Beat Games is working with Subpac to try and make Beat Saber accessible to gamers who are deaf. Beat Games’ Chief Executive Officer, Jaroslav Beck, discussed and showed off some early testing of this product, specifically made for Beat Saber, in the video above.
Subpac is both the name of the company and the product. To put it simply, Beck describes it as “[basically a] subwoofer that you put on your back [so] you feel the vibrations from the bass.”
Below is the company’s official mission statement.
Subpac is pioneering a revolution in physical audio by enabling experiential sound to improve all forms of entertainment—not only music, but also video games, virtual reality, and cinema. While busy building the next generations of our patent-pending technology, we also actively work at a grassroots level with producers & sound designers of all types to create, share, and promote a deeper connection to music, entertainment, and the world around us.
Also in collaboration with Oculus, the team had players who are deaf test out Beat Saber with Subpac. Beck asked every player if they thought they’d get better if they played the game over time. This question seemed a bit odd but, later in the video, it made more sense. Beck further contextualized the situation.
The important thing will be to find out if [those testers] will be playing the game and try[ing] to get better at the game at their own will. This is the most important thing… I[‘m] interested [to see] if the retention will be [the same] because our retention is almost 50% of people who bought the game are [still] playing it even after three months.
Feedback from testers was pretty positive, but even if Subpac’s Beat Saber collab increases accessibility, it won’t mean much if players can’t afford it. Currently, there are two general Subpac products on the company’s website and both cost about as much as VR itself: Subpac S2 costs $299 and Subpac M2X costs $349. No price has been revealed for the Beat Saber Subpac, but due to the technology’s sophistication, it’s hard to imagine it costing much less.
Still, Beat Games’ efforts here add to the growing narrative surrounding accessibility in games. While these conversations have always existed, they are now becoming more mainstream which is an important step.
It’s unclear when the Beat Saber Subpac will be available for purchase and whether or not the team is considering deaf accessibility options for the PlayStation VR version, but we will keep you posted as the story develops.
Beck ended the vlog by saying he was going to “mee[t] a lot of musicians in L.A. soon” to close on the “next music packs,” so those eager for more Beat Saber tunes won’t have to wait too much longer.