Joe Montana is getting back into video games.
The Hall of Fame quarterback who won four Super Bowl rings is behind a new studio called Superstar Games that will soon launch Montana 17, the first virtual reality football game that will launch on Google Daydream and Samsung Gear.
Montana 17 gives users an immersive on-the-field experience from the quarterback’s perspective. The game is passing-only and featured seven-on-seven gameplay with four quick quarters. For Daydream, you control the QB with an external controller; on the Gear, you use the pad on the headset itself.
Montana 17 is also the first VR game to be licensed by the NFL Players Association, which allows gamers to play as NFL superstars like Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Odell Beckham Jr., and of course, Montana himself.
“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 said in a statement.
In an interview with GeekWire, Montana said he sees big potential for VR. That echoes what the NFL legend said at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month when he talked about using VR for football training.
“I like VR and believe we are just scratching the surface of its uses,” said Montana, who is also an active venture capitalist. “Right now content is limited as it’s in its infancy.”
Montana, whose interest in video games goes back to the 1994 Sega Genesis arcade-style game “Joe Montana Football,” was involved with the creation of Montana 17 from the beginning. However, the development work was done by his partner Damon Grow.
Montana called himself “quality control.”
“I know my limits,” Montana said. “They don’t want me trying to develop the game as I wouldn’t want them taking a snap in a game.”
Grow said that the biggest challenge when creating the game was developing animations and applying algorithms for a VR game on mobile.
“Phones are certainly getting more powerful, but you have the double problem of needing to render all characters on screen twice for each eye,” he explained. “We came up with many workarounds and discovered a lot of new technology to get the game working smoothly for mobile.”
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. The company, which is among 50 pre-approved developers on Google’s Daydream platform, has eight employees and is based in San Francisco.