A look at Montana 17, a licensed VR Football experience for Google Daydream from small town Florida kid done good Damon Grow.
So last week was a pretty busy week for me with GDC17, Stanford Sports Innovation Expo, Starters VR In Sports, and general work week things. That all being said I decided to make one more trek into the world of VR networking to check out the VR Gaming Summit put on by SF Beta. As much as I like VR networking it was not what I wanted to do with both Resident Evil VR and Breath Of The Wild at home.
Well I am glad I went because Damon Grow CEO of Superstar Games really delivered one of the best gaming presentations I have seen from a smaller scale VR event.
In about 30 minutes Damon went through the transition from console to mobile to VR, the value and caution of working with "Valuable" intellectual property, the importance of branding and finding the right partners, and the future of VR monetization including his own strategy for the upcoming Montana 17. Originally a GearVR title, Montana 17 will now be an important title for Google's Daydream VR platform. I am actually hoping Google supports the team as Superstar Games have done some excellent biz dev to get to this point.
Damon said it was very difficult to get a full NFL license due to the relationship with EA and the NFL due to a up and coming game called Madden. I know these issues first hand from my own experiences working on a VR Football Fan Experience in the past. http://www.catsandvr.com/blog/catsandvrsuperbowl
However Damon and his co-founder Joe "F'N Legend" Montana, were able to make some very biz savvy moves and get get Montana 17 to be the first VR game to be licensed by the NFL Players Association. This is a big deal and allows for NFL superstars like Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Odell Beckham Jr, and one of my my favs Carson Wentz to be involved. In the video above you can see some of the players who got to try out Montana 17 and the great reaction it got from them.
I have a little expereience myself demoing VR to NFL stars and from first hand expereience I know they are very excited to see where the tech goes.
My point is I have a vested interest in VR and Football from a business and a gamer perspective and Damon's presentation made me believe in his company and product vision. No wonder Superstar Games has raised $2.3 million from investors like New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, former Electronic Arts CFO Stan McKee, and several ex-Zynga executives in order to be first to market with a full featured VR Football game.
“We are happy to team up with Superstar Games and Joe Montana to license this game so that a new generation of gamers can connect with their favorite players in a unique and authentic way,” -NFLPA VP of Licensing and Business Development Steve Scebelo
That is some strong hustle from the Superstar Games team, even the way Damon Grow and Joe Montana started working together is a bit funny and lucky. Damon tells a little of it in the video at the top of the post.
From a press side I have heard that Superstar Games did not get the best press out of GDC16 but I was very surprised to not see them at the Daydream booth during GDC17 given the fact that having strong product with a great potential would have helped a Google Daydream booth I felt was lacking a Killer App. I'm not saying that DaydreamVR will not succeed I am just saying you may need something stronger that Rabbids to hold my attention. I am not a Stanford MBA or anything but I do think the millions of people who enjoy the Super Bowl would probably be more open to Montana 17 as a first time VR experience. I know this from experience. I hope Google is helping the Superstar Games team out quite a bit.
The team may be taking an under the radar approach but I respect them with the lead that they are taking to take on the EA cartel (inside joke) and the strangle hold on American Football in gaming that they have. The gaming press might say what they want about the final Montana 17 game when they get it but from first hand experience I tell you NFL players, young kids, and those just getting into VR will find it as a palatable first step. I wish the Superstar Games team well with Montana 17 and know that 18 and 19 just like the future of VR will continue to innovate and impress as time goes on. To be buzz wordy with my paradigm shifting, Montana 17 is actually something disruptive in VR as a first to market full featured VR Football game featuring players.
Disclaimer: Superstar Games CEO Damon Grow is from Port St. Lucie, Florida. I went to High School there, no way would I not want his game to succeed. #HustleHard