Jason Bral was the executive producer for over a dozen digital video series and, after deciding to explore the growing virtual reality gaming space, became the CEO of Well Played Studios. With a lifelong love of gaming, Bral and everyone at Well Played Studios are working on developing incredible VR video game experiences. Wanting to learn more about Bral’s background and Well Played, he allowed me to interview him for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: Growing up, what were some of your favorite video games?
Jason Bral: Growing up, my favorite games were Warcraft 3 and Diablo 2. Essentially, I’m a huge Blizzard fan. Even now, I spend hours playing Overwatch on my free time.
Yanes: Are there any classic games that you’d love to see turned into a VR experience?
Jason Bral: So many amazing games to choose from! We do internal development brainstorms where we come up with a myriad of ideas on what we’d love to transfer over to VR. In fact, we’re toying with the idea of bringing a version of Pacman and Frogger to VR. We’ll see!
Yanes: You are the CEO of Well Played Studios. How would you describe Well Played’s mission statement?
Bral: Well Played Studios aims to create immersive and fully interactive virtual reality for brands and consumers alike. Our core mission is to make these experiences accessible and within one ubiquitous setting for the general public… which is why Ripple Effect is free for all premium desktop VR consumers. We plan to do something similar in the mobile and AR arenas. The other part of our mission is to solve for the general low VR replayability issue by releasing a new game every week. We hope to keep consumers engaged!
Yanes: Given that Well Played is a VR focused company, what are some of the big bottlenecks you think VR technology is facing at the consumer level? For instance, do you think the additional hardware VR might require people to purchase will be a deterrent?
Bral: Good question. We do speaking engagements where we like to get real on this subject. The biggest issues with premium VR is the low general market penetration due to the high cost of hardware and computing capabilities. This is certainly a deterrent for our gaming platform. However, we also believe in ‘if you build it, they will come’. Hopefully, as mobile capabilities go up, and prices on premium desktop experiences come down, we’ll have built out a sustainable ecosystem that will lead to more consumer adoption.
Yanes: With eSports growing by leaps and bounds, how do you think eSports might impact VR? On this note, do you see eSports influencing Well Played Studios?
Bral: We love eSports and it is definitely a part of our long-term plan. We think the next iteration of eSports will become more synonymous with actual sports and become physical in nature. And just like the most successful eSports franchises are free2play titles, we think Ripple Effect stands a fair chance at making an impact.
Yanes: Well Played Studios is developing Ripple Effect. How would you quickly describe what Ripple Effect is?
Bral: Every universe started with a big bang. From the first spark of creation, a wave of energy expanded out and spawned a multiverse of new environments and infinite possibilities. This is the Ripple Effect. Within each Ripple, there is a diverse landscape of “Worlds” to be discovered. Users can explore each world, interact with one another, and discover portals that will transport them into a multitude of games and multiplayer experiences.
Yanes: What was the origin of Ripple Effect? While developing it, what obstacles did you and dev team overcome?
Bral: The origin of Ripple Effect came from a conversation myself and my co-founders Elliot Ordower and Kayvon Boudai had about a year ago. We realized that VR had a huge replayability issue and so we decided to start a gaming platform that would help alleviate and solve for this problem. We saw it as a huge business opportunity ahead of the real explosion of VR years from now. The biggest hurdles we’ve run into is creating photorealistic elements in a virtual world, but we’ve managed to do more than we imagined up to this point.
Yanes: What features of Ripple Effect do you enjoy the most?
Bral: We really enjoy our Mountain King multiplayer game. No matter how many times we play it, we still have a fun time competing against one another.
Yanes: When people finish using Ripple Effect, what feeling do you hope they take away from it?
Bral: We hope people feel like they’ve done something in VR that simply cannot be replicated elsewhere, and so they’ll keep coming back for more.
Yanes: Finally, what are some projects Well Play Studios is working on that people can look forward to?
Bral: People can look forward to a new game every week! On May 31st, Ripple Effect goes live on Steam with 5 free games. In fact, we already have 7 more completed games ready to go. Of those, we really think they’ll enjoy Asteroid Belt!