Space Pirate Arena is an upcoming pseudo-sequel to VR classic Space Pirate Trainer (2017). All your training, it seems, was leading up to going head to head against other players in a huge virtual arena… and you’ll need an equally huge playspace in real life to play.

Space Pirate Trainer from developer I-Illusions was one of VR’s first killer apps, and after all these years it’ll soon be getting a follow-up in the form of Space Pirate Arena.

I-Illusions developer Dirk Van Welden said recently that the game will launch “soon” on Quest, and he confirmed the game will require a whopping 32 × 32ft (10 × 10m) playspace.

The reason for the huge playspace requirement is because the game will put players inside of a virtual arena that they must navigate entirely with real movement. While the virtual arena has lots of corridors and cover to hide behind, players will of course just be running around an empty space trying to spot each other (which can look pretty hilarious from the outside).

Given the playspace requirement, the game is almost certain to not launch on any tethered headsets since their cords wouldn’t reach far enough to cover the arena.

Van Welden acknowledges that the huge playspace requirement isn’t going to be something everyone will have access to, but says it’s necessary if you want to play Space Pirate Arena “the way it should be.”

In a lot of ways, this feels similar to releasing Space Pirate Trainer [early access] back in 2016. Back then we didn’t know if people would go out and buy a VR headset. There are a lot of Quests out there now, but we’re asking those people to find a safe 10 × 10m spot to play Arena. Similar to SPT, once you have played Arena the way it should be, you’ll be introduced to a whole new kind of experience, and it’ll just sell itself.

To make sure Arena is played the right way, it won’t boot unless you found a 10 × 10m space. That’s actually the only threshold, since we’ve added a single player mode to give you a taste of the gameplay. (If you don’t have friends with a Quest). In the process of creating Arena, we had to come up with a whole bunch of original solutions for problems that arise with 1-to-1 movement based gameplay. Let’s hope these set the bar for future similar experiences.

He goes on to say that the studio is in its “final push” of development, and that a release date announcement and more details are due “very soon,” so it seems that we can expect a launch before year’s end.

Space Pirate Arena isn’t the first game to use a large playspace with purely physical movement. This kind of arrangement is regularly seen in out-of-home VR arcades, but hasn’t come to Quest because of the clear space limitation for average users. It’s an intriguing gamble for I-Illusions and reminds us a bit of Everslaught which is trying to be the best it can be for a subset of hardcore VR users rather than everyone.

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  • Having worked on a similar experience myself, I can tell you that it is incredibly cool… but the problem is finding the right space. I guess this game will sell well inside VR Arcades

    • mirak

      that doesn’t seem a good business model

    • Sven Viking

      Deciding on pricing seems like it could be awkward considering the main audience is probably people who might get the chance to try it one or so times in uncertain conditions, and people who plan to make a lot of money from it in arcades.

      Actually seems like something where a rental-style subscription model might be warranted.

  • 3872Orcs

    Should not really be that big of problem finding somewhere to play.. There’s free spaces everywhere outside. And if you’re three people one person can keep watch while the other two plays on a empty parking lot when the sun has gone down.

    What is missing here though is a Quest competitor :( I’m not getting Quest 2 and so is not most of my friends. We need a real alternative!

    • gothicvillas

      Yes im holding off too. My wife has Quest 2 and its not bad but id rather stay with pcvr (index in my case) and wait on Quest 3 or something. Q2 just barely scratches my VR itch, i think next FB headset might just convince me to get it finally.

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    • sebrk

      Right. Not getting a Quest or any Facebook hardware. Shame my original Quest will soon just be collecting dust. Zuckerberg can suck it.

    • mappo

      It also requires good wifi in that big open space.

  • NL_VR

    I might just buy this to support developers brave to do something special like this and release it for “consumers”.
    I bet i can find an area to play on, just need to convince a Friend :)

  • Collin Drennen

    Wish a few questions could be answered:
    – For the Single Player Mode (Yes!), is an internet connection required? Since I would have to be outside, I have confidence my wifi would get spotty.
    Would a cellphone hotspot be required?
    – Does the 10mx10m area have to be flat? Even though I have a yard that would accommodate that, my house is on hilly terrain.
    Try telling the wife you are driving to the school/church parking lot to play a VR game (I really don’t see playing on an open street as being viable).
    Wonder if the empty parking lots are monitored by security cameras at all, and if you’ll get in trouble.

    It is a promising concept, but I wish they would start off with something smaller (say a 5m x 5m) with some Tea for God gameplay that would combine both open space and confined space.
    Make the base game playable to the majority; make the 10m X 1010m requirement an ‘elite upgrade’.

    It took the Quest to drag the VR user base into numbers that barely elevates it among a niche category, and now we’re introducing a playground requirement that almost matches (my opinion only) that of folks asking ‘but I don’t want to buy a computer to play VR’.

    • The Mogget

      Good point. Having low space requirements but high WIFI data requirements is not a big deal at home. If you require so much space that people have to go find it, then they probably won’t also have top notch internet.

  • JB1968

    This game will fail in terms of sales big time. 99.9% of vr players are happy to find 6×6 ft to play.

  • Their next game after this will be “Space Pirate Stadium”. It will be played in full 3D locomotion (like Quidditch) and require a jetpak for every participant. Developer quote below:

    “In a lot of ways, this feels similar to releasing Space Pirate Arena back in 2021. Back then we didn’t know if people would go out and find a safe 10 × 10m spot. There are a lot of people out there now who own their own spare warehouse, but we’re asking those people to buy a jetpak to play Stadium. Similar to SPA, once you have played Stadium the way it should be, you’ll be introduced to a whole new kind of experience, and it’ll just sell itself.”

    • mappo

      Then Space Pirate Space. Only Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos will be able to meet the requirements tho.

      • XRC

        Don’t forgot Richard Branson, already looks like pirate?

      • Wouldn’t that just be “Space Pirate”, period? :) But we can go further! After the string of hits bringing warehouses and jetpaks to the mainstream, the highly anticipated sequel: Space Pirate 5D!

        To play this, you have to locate a 10x10x10x10x10m tesseract, which is theoretically to be found in the other end of a black hole. Once you try it, you’ll never go back! (I mean, good luck even if you WANT to come back from a trip to a black hole). Player retention is eternal!

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  • kontis

    Respect to devs for trying to push the boundaries – literally and figuratively.

  • mirak

    Hover Junkers was a very good game that didn’t needed huge space, but it died because it was multiplayer, and there is not enough VR players, to make just one single lobby.

    I don’t see how this one will survive with such big constraints.

    • Colin Parnell

      This is aimed at arcades I think where it will do well. We pay per minute for licensed games and that includes Space Pirate Trainer, so they know how it all works and are set up with all the major suppliers to arcades. We have 2 x play areas in our facility and will be offering this to our customer base.

      • mirak

        Yes, that seems great for your business, but the communication seems to indicate they also target regular users, not just arcades.

    • ViRGiN

      What?
      Hover Junkers died, because it was released in 2016 – and it was “its fun cause its in VR”, and it wasn’t fun at all.

  • Jeff Axline

    Hopefully you can play with multiple headsets on one account. That would be nice for multi-headset families.

    • Oculus already introduced secondary accounts and app sharing awhile back to address that.

  • CIR

    BRB, buying large warehouse space.

    • The Mogget

      How about a time-share?

  • Colin Parnell

    FYI guys this is being welcomed by the VR arcade community and it is designed for that kind of use, as SPT is already a very popular title in arcades and they are set up on all the major platforms for it. You will need a decent flat space, with nothing breakable and good wifi and probably good markers all around for the tracking to work. We have been experimenting with 8 x headsets in our place with similar titles and they are quite tricky to set up and get working reliably, but when you do, its really worth it, its an empowering feeling to be running around in a VR headset.

  • mpaforoufakis tsiou

    Perfect for my new arcade flat conversion..

  • Carmelia

    Sounds like one might want to play that outdoors.

  • mappo

    What are they doing to make the players honor the virtual barriers? What stops someone from just running away through the walls when they get shot at?

  • Jim P

    Well thank goodness it’s on the Quest. Like moms use to say in the 80’s “Now go outside and play”.

  • Skippy76

    I like the idea but it will fail if they don’t add joystick locomotion. This sort of playspace requirement is meant more for Arcade type scenarios.. unless people have a basketball court in their homes. I was hoping that it would be a similar wave shooter but with heavily upgraded environments and visuals.. sadly.. another company selling out to the inferior VR hardware company for easy money!
    VR Devs have the opportunity to push the grafx and immersion with PC VR yet they settle for crappy mobile processing and mediocre tracking/audio!!

  • The Mogget

    I am so excited for this. As someone who gets violent motion sickness from joystick motion and is getting tired of teleporting everywhere to then stand still, this is a breath of fresh air. As long as it isn’t too expensive, I don’t mind buying a game that I can only play on a weekend when I can find space to play it.

  • Alberto Zanot

    I own a Quest 1, and i bought a Quest 2 day one just because i heard about this game, so i can play 1vs1 with my friends with two quests. Since the annnouncement passed more than 2 years and i’ve lost almost every interest, I am also quite sure it will not be out “soon”. Probably never.

  • CalcCalcCalc

    Interesting.
    Maybe there could be a way to hack together a cheap waterproof tent to play this game in??
    lol, two people getting a 10x10m indoors play-space for a game is just uneconomical.