With the development of virtual reality systems, the future truly is now. Sinn Studio, a VR company based in Toronto, discusses their company and how they made it big amongst other large organizations.
“I found a Craigslist ad while I was in college that looked for independent artists to create short VR films,” explains Alek Sinn, the CEO of Sinn Studio. “I’d never done this before but signed a contract anyway. My plan was to use what I already knew of 3D, rendered in 360 instead. It worked and the potential for VR became immediately obvious to me.”
Sinn says that the unknown territory of the early days of VR allowed him to pioneer without rules and discover what works and what doesn’t.
“Sinn had invited me over to try out what he referred to as ‘the future of gaming’. Immediately after trying VR, I knew that this was going to be the future of not only gaming, but also communication,” says Almir Brljak, the COO of Sinn Studio.
Brljak explains that he had offered to join Sinn as an investor and partner during their gaming sessions, ultimately leading to the founding of Sinn Studio in June 2017.
Sinn Studio’s Swordsman, a realistic sword-fighting game, became the fifth best selling title in 2021 in Europe and North America on the Playstation VR network and has built one of the most active VR communities of around 30,000 members.
“Swordsman is the first of its kind to focus this heavily on artificial-intelligence and sword-play. It’s inspired by Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) but designed for any skill level, beginner to expert,” says Sinn. “In addition to being a realistic sword-fighting game, it still offers realistic physics and a variety of themed maps and enemies, such as knights, Vikings, Mongols, samurai, pirates, and many epic boss fights. You can even encounter a Kraken while fighting pirates in the Caribbean. It’s an epic experience and truly one-of-a-kind. We’re in a great position to lead the charge on this type of combat and are continuing to innovate with some really exciting things already in the pipeline.”
Competing with studios that had over 50 employees, they agree that their success didn’t happen overnight — it also didn’t come easily.
Brljak comments that, “we had a small team. Sinn was the only full-time employee until I switched over to full-time in September 2020.
“A small budget often slows down game development and limits game exposure, as we didn’t have the luxury of running paid advertising on multiple channels,” adds Brljak.
Sinn and Brljak had decided that Swordsman would determine their faith in the VR gaming industry, setting out success metrics that they needed to meet to stay operational.
“Swordsman needed to succeed on week one, or our journey was over. On the day of the Swordsman launch, we had almost no capital left in the bank, and our small team size only had another week of operating capital. Thankfully, it became a best-seller, and the tough challenges of the previous years were all worth it,” says Brljak.
There are additional challenges with VR as it, “doesn’t play by the same rules as flat video games.
“Players don’t press buttons to make things happen — they use their real-life bodies to make things happen,” adds Sinn. “This is a unique challenge because it’s very difficult to predict what a human being will try to do in a game when they’re free to touch anything and do anything in any way they want.”
The possibilities of movement are endless, but they don’t want to restrict players and take away from the immersion experience.
“Finding this balance has, and always will be, one of the biggest challenges in what we do,” continues Sinn.
Brljak adds, “we’re proud that we were able to grow our company this way and we’re hopeful that our approach will showcase to other tech entrepreneurs that you don’t need to raise capital immediately. Identifying when you should raise capital is an immensely important skill — we’re about to begin the fundraising process for our first round.”
Click here to learn more about Sinn Studios and their hit game, Swordsman.