One the leading game developers for the PlayStation 4 and Oculus Rift platforms, Insomniac Games, is finally releasing its first major augmented reality title: Seedling for the Magic Leap One.
Back in November, we gave our impressions of the game after sampling it at the L.E.A.P. conference in Los Angeles, but the big surprise this month is that Seedling will be Magic Leap's first paid app.
That's right, unlike Angry Birds and Dr. Grordbort's Invaders, which are free to download by anyone with a Magic Leap One, Seedling costs $9.99.
But rather than buy the app via the Magic Leap One, users will need to visit the Magic Leap website and enter their credit card information first, which will then unlock the experience on their device.
For the uninitiated, the premise of Seedling involves a science-fictional universe in which many worlds have been destroyed and you're tasked with helping to rebuild things by cultivating an array of alien plant life. In the era of real-world concerns about global warming and a pollution-challenged environment, Seedling is a game that doubles as a message from one our possibly perilous future realities.
Plants can be situated anywhere your Magic Leap One can scan and, after taking root, the plants can be curated over weeks as their vines and branches grow around the objects and furniture in your real-world rooms.
Along with the alien plant life are tiny alien creatures that populate each mini ecosystem and react to your presence. Over time, Seedling is a meditative experience that provides a unique look at what's possible with high end augmented reality.
It's no surprise that Seedling's world building and graphics are top notch, as Insomniac is also the studio behind incredibly polished immersive games such as The Unspoken and Stormland for the Oculus Rift, and Ratchet & Clank and Marvel's Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4. What may be surprising is why Magic Leap decided to make this its first paid app.
While incredibly beautiful and well done, the app doesn't immediately come off as a must-play experience that will garner many repeat plays from obsessed users. Rather, the meditative nature of the app seems more like a great demonstration of Magic Leap's spatial computing technology, similar to Tónandi, rather than a paid app with a real chance at snagging major revenue.
In the short term, what Insomniac and Magic Leap appear to be hoping for is less about revenue and more about testing a paid app model for the currently small number of Magic Leap One users. Also, the app's elaborate world-building and interaction with the real world could serve as a strong example of what other developers can shoot for when developing and selling games and other experiences on the Magic Leap One.
Seedling is available now in the Magic Leap World section on the Magic Leap One (after you buy it on the website) and, according to Nathaniel Bell, creative director at Insomniac Games, in the not too distant future, users may get yet another Magic Leap title from the studio, linked to the Seedling universe.
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