Maze Theory’s Ian Hambleton on how the licensing business can benefit from the technology.
Firstly, can you explain the background to the company?
Founded in 2018, Maze Theory is a VR studio brought to you by Mark Hardy (ex-vp marketing at PlayStation Europe), Geoff Heath (ex-European md at Activision) and Ian Hambleton (co-founder of Output Group – an award-winning creative agency). We redraw the lines of storytelling and create truly awesome immersive gaming experiences.
We’re focused on ‘Evolutionary Storytelling’ Experiences – our stories unfold gradually with unexpected and immersive scenarios that lead to limitless possibilities.
We create narrative experiences that combine improvisation, theatrics, characterisation and active participation.
We aim to push the boundaries of the VR experience.
What projects is Maze Theory currently working on?
We have a couple of big projects in production. One is a major global IP franchise which we have just signed and will be announced next month. This is due to launch in May 2019.
The second is our own IP project, The Vanishing Act (pictured below). It is the story of a scientist who’s found a way of recording dreams and memories in VR. He’s been murdered, and you play the role of a technical assistant working on behalf of a sinister future healthcare corporation. You need to dive down through his memories and thoughts in an effort to uncover the secret of his technology.
It’s a real mix of theatrical storytelling, high end production, nostalgia and escape room problem solving.
Why did you decide to exhibit at Brand Licensing Europe? How was the show for you?
We are looking to sign a number of IPs, so that we have a minimum of two further experiences in development for 2019. We are working with Libby Grant at We Are Bloom to help us navigate the licensing industry and identify and speak to the right brand owners.
BLE was a great launchpad for us and gave us the opportunity to meet all the major film studios and big entertainment brands as well as showcasing our production quality and unique development approach via our demo.
We have numerous publishers looking to fund our next projects, so we’re looking to work with a number of internationally recognised IPs which match our evolutionary storytelling positioning, are current (well-established franchises or IP that’s airing or about to air) and ideally matched to the current biggest share of VR audience (predominantly 25-40 slightly male skewed gamers).
What can Maze Theory offer to the licensing industry?
We see VR as a mainstream entertainment proposition. Currently it’s in the hands of gamers as the technology is quite new, but it’s future is very much as a family entertainment experience.
It’s a unique medium that brings together cinematic production, immersive theatre and interactive gaming. In VR you’re able to put consumers inside the story in a way no other medium permits you to do.
For IP holders looking to embrace the next wave of brand experience, VR is the most powerful method of doing this. Way ahead of AR even or other mixed reality mediums. Only in VR can you have truly 100% focus without distraction, plus in VR you can give people transportive experiences they could never imagine were possible.
By 2021 Superdata estimates that consumer VR Revenue will be worth $19bn* so understandably brand owners are really starting to look to secure their share of this.
Are there any upcoming licensed partnerships you can talk about?
We have just signed with one major IP owner and are in advanced stage conversations with a number of others so watch this space…
What is your main aim when it comes to working with licensed companies? What would you like to have achieved by the end of the year?
- Within the next 18 months we want to have had two massive hits – both critically and commercially acclaimed.
- To have proven to brand licensors that VR is a fast-growing market and that significant revenues can be achieved with the right development partner and team behind it.
- We want to create the killer app, that fast forwards VR as a technology platform and encourages mass, mainstream adoption.
Consumers are increasingly looking for more immersive and interactive brand experiences and with its innovative development, wealth of experience and passionate and nimble team Maze Theory is helping to lead the way in interactive VR experiences. If we haven’t spoken to you already and you think we may be a good match get in touch. We promise to challenge your imagination.
*SuperData, Nowhere To Go But Up: The Future of XR (February 2018)