Steel Wool Studios has picked up a $5 million investment from HTC. The studio was formed in 2011 by Pixar and LucasArts alumni.

Steel Wool Studios, which today announced a $5 million Series A investment from HTC, was founded in 2011 and shifted their focus to VR in 2014, eventually launching Quar: Battle for Gate 18, a virtual reality RTS for the HTC Vive. Among the company’s future projects is Mars Odyssey, a “simulation” for the HTC Vive that’s set to launch on September 9th.

“The Steel Wool Studios team carries an impressive pedigree of creative talent that has already proven its ability to build cutting-edge content for the nascent VR category,” said HTC CEO Cher Wang. “Taking a look at Mars Odyssey and Steel Wool’s other projects under development, it’s immediately clear that this studio will drive VR adoption with great content that balances amazing visual fidelity with strong storytelling.”

See Also: HTC-led Venture Capital Consortium Represents $10 Billion Earmarked for VR

In Mars Odyssey, players will head to Mars to repair some of the many robot emissaries that have been sent to the planet. The rovers will be in their actual location on the planet according to NASA data; players will learn more about the planet as they progress through the experience, the company says.

While HTC recently launched the HTC Vive X accelerator—a $100 million VR investment fund and accelerator program—it’s not clear whether or not the investment in Steel Wool Studios is being drawn from the same fund; the studio wasn’t listed among the first investments made by the accelerator. We’ve reached out to the company for clarification.

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Steel Wool Studios says that beyond Quar and Mars Odyssey, they’ll soon be talking about upcoming projects which “span game, simulation, and narrative-based concepts.”

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Zobeid

    I had fun with Quar. The “grimsical” attitude tickled me, and among the early Vive games it stood out as being well-finished rather than an experiment, or a demo, or a beta, etc.

  • Scott C

    The silence from the Oculus-is-buying-exclusivity crowd is deafening.

    • Full_Name

      Unlike when Oculus does this, Steel Wool Games has promised there is no exclusivity deal for this investment

      • Andrew Jakobs

        BS, as you can only get this funding if you are specifically targetting the HTC Vive, with that you know it’ll be a timed exclusive for the Vive.. It’s not much different from what Oculus offers..

        • ummm…

          is this true? can you show me the statement from HTC or SWS that says as much? Or maybe several examples of this already happening? Granted there are games on the steam store that may not be officially oculus supported, but does that mean oculus users can’t run them? I’m actually curious to know if htc is doing the same thing that many blamed oculus for.

          • DougP

            No, he can’t.

            He’s lying and is a Oculus-fanboi troll.

          • Scott C

            Well, ummm…, Steel Wool Games’ previous VR game, Quar, is Vive-only on Steam.

            You can make the argument, I suppose, that this is “only” because it uses Vive wands as input. But it uses those as laser pointers in an RTS, so I have zero idea why a quick adaptation to use a cursor system with, say, a mouse or gamepad, wouldn’t allow them to support Rift. It’s not like the Vive wands’ interface is there to promote presence or something.

            So where do you draw the line between “feature support” and “exclusivity” or “timed exclusivity”? Is there really a qualitative difference to the consumer?

          • ummm…

            its an interesting question. one i had overlooked in fact with the aggressive exclusivity model that oculus had. I’ll say this. I have games that ive bought through steam that are only rift supported that i can’t use on my vive, bummer. There are games that are supported by both – and then the room scale and touch control games only supported by vive.

            I’d say that htc isn’t locking in developers, but sometimes they choose (for practicality) to develop for one or the other or both. WIth oculus it was a different story – or appears to be. Your point is taken, but i think it is apples to oranges.

        • Full_Name

          BS back to you. Read up on the technology for Christ’s sake. I can easily support both the Vive and the Rift on DAY ONE by using OpenVR. This already works (even ahead of Touch actually being out for sale), so a VR game bought on Steam can play on the Rift just fine, with Touch.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      LOL, yes, yet again another (timed) exclusive for the HTC Vive, steam is filling up with it..

    • DougP

      Not even remotely the same.

      So can you show some examples where a company was developing for Facebook’s headset & HTC swooped in & offered cash to STOP & release exclusive on theirs?

      What – no?!
      Of course not, because it hasn’t happened.

      So please stop with the Facebook-fan-troll BS.
      @disqus_puZMl9lgZB:disqus = fanning-flames-fact-free.

      • Scott C

        No, I’m just making the observation that the crowd that was raging against fragmenting the VR market and userbase when it was Oculus (or Facebook, if you prefer) throwing money at people doesn’t seem to be upset now that HTC is doing it.

        Do I know for a fact that Steel Wool Studios was going to target multiple platforms before receiving money? No, I’m not privy to their business plans. Does it seem like a reasonable assumption? Yeah — even if they don’t opt to publish on the Oculus Home platform, by the time their next project is out, Touch will be, too, so there’s absolutely zero reason to not develop simultaneously from a practical feature support perspective.

        So I wouldn’t say I’m fanning flames fact-free. I’d say I’m posing rhetorical questions for those people to consider about their reactions based on reasonable assumptions I’ve drawn from available information that I’ve seen no evidence to contradict.

      • Will Cho

        What’s good for one company isn’t necessarily good for the other. HTC is making investment after VR paid off and Oculus while developing VR. Steam is not interested in exclusivity because it will lose sales. HTC and Steam had natural exclusives via Vive’s wand.

        • DougP

          Re: “natural exclusives”
          Hehe – that’s rich. A new one.

          Like Crysis is a “natural exclusive” as it only runs on high end video cards.
          Seriously, “natural exclusives” because of motion control support. Wow, just wow – that’s a serious stretch.

          Re: “HTC is making investment after VR paid off”
          Again, pure BS. HTC was making HUGE investments in VR, alongside Valve. In both support, marketing (public exposure) & iterating through the tech.
          But you are correct that they weren’t investing in “paying off” game developers, so they’d NOT support the competition.

          Re: “Steam is not interested in exclusivity because it will lose sales”
          That’s another ironic point – Facebook claiming they’re not being anti-competitive. Well, if these titles (devs) they’re paying for are going to “win sales”, they should be put out on BOTH platforms = more consumers & more choice.
          But that’s the rub, isn’t it. HTC & Valve are interested in the future & growing the market, reaching the most consumers, for not just THIS generation, but future iterations.
          Facebook wants to:
          1) use $ to avoid competition to hawk their wares
          2) take over Valve’s biz & become the de facto distribution platform for VR (again using their near unlimited cash/resources to do it, again squashing competition)
          Neither of those motivations benefits the consumers.

          • Will Cho

            I get what you are saying.