New collaboration between the startup Virtual Rangers and BIL during the Student Fair, which will be held this year virtually from 9 to 13 November. It is a downloadable game called BIL Runner that has been specially designed by Virtual Rangers for the young Luxembourgish customers of the BIL. Pierre-Olivier Rotheval, Head of Marketing & Innovation at BIL and Matthieu Bracchetti, CEO and founder of Virtual Rangers tell us more about this energetic project!
What was your need when you called upon Virtual Rangers?
P-O R: It was to reach a younger target on a recurring basis, in a dematerialized health context, by going beyond the simple virtual stand, while having a real impact. We were used to opportunities for more direct contact with students at physics fairs, which allowed us to meet them on a massive scale. It’s a marketing operation, but we wanted something offbeat, fun, challenging to arouse their interest, and at the same time rooted in references specific to the Grand Duchy. Matthieu represents this new generation of entrepreneurs. It’s a way for us to highlight a startup from the new Luxembourg economy that we support and believe in. It is also our vocation as a bank.
What does the project you created for BIL consist of?
MB: Designing virtual reality experiments is our core business. We had in mind a video game project that highlights Luxembourg with a strong and symbolic character. BIL Runner is a game that allows you to challenge yourself and is accessible to all levels, all audiences where the player plays the Roude Léiw, pacing the streets and bridges of the city to collect flags bearing the BIL effigy and tries to avoid obstacles, such as municipal buses. It is a game with merit, the objective is to stay alive as long as possible!
P-O R: By the way, I should mention that there’s a great prize for the best players: a PS 5 console, which will be officially released barely a week after the end of the contest game. A gift that fits the game’s universe and the target audience. Gamers can download the BIL Runner app at www.bil.com/BILRunner, enter the contest and access the virtual booth at the student fair today.
This is not your first collaboration…
MB: Pierre-Olivier and François (Giotto, Senior Innovation Officer, BIL, editor’s note) were the first two people to support me when I created Virtual Rangers, and this continues today, in a relationship of trust that has been renewed several times. For me it’s more than a partnership.
P-O R: We know each other well, yes! Matthieu has been used to creating playful experiences in virtual or augmented reality for a long time with the BIL brand. A game on cell phones was the first time. We collaborated together on several student fairs. Matthieu was present at our first Startuppers Night, proposing a virtual reality animation, even though his company had not yet been created. He has always been super reliable and even delivered beyond what we expected because he has a total master of the subject. He runs a company that we have seen evolve and that we are proud to support since the beginning. Afterwards, we can imagine making the BIL Runner game evolve and propose other contests for wider targets.
For the uninitiated, what difference do you make between virtual reality and augmented reality?
MB: I have two concrete examples to illustrate my answer:
– Virtual Reality: using a virtual reality helmet to immerse oneself in a situation, with motion sensors. An example of VR with BIL: we could imagine hot-air balloon games during events where the player physically climbs into a real balloon gondola, puts on the helmet and flies away, while having to shoot balloons filled with BILenium, a fuel to be able to continue flying…
– Augmented reality: it enriches reality with virtual elements. It is for example the modeling of the BIL building in 3D, which appears as a hologram and around which one can rotate.
Is it complicated today to reach young people as a marketing target?
P-O R: Sometimes yes, young people are hyper-connected, but it depends on the use. This is the case for communication and entertainment. But this is not a rule that applies to all mobile services. For example, they always want to meet people at the bank, it’s not the 100% digital disembodied youth at all – a somewhat hollow cliché in use – that is presented too often. The gaming environment in the Grand Duchy is in full evolution, there is an ecosystem that is also developing around e-sport, and we find it interesting to support it. I would like to add that we are all gamers ourselves, which also explains our enthusiasm for this challenge!
There are other professional uses for virtual and augmented reality. What are they?
MB: Indeed, our activity is not limited to the creation of games. The user experience is the thing we put forward the most. Our goal is for everyone to be able to use virtual reality without any pre-requisites. But with the health crisis, we all have to rethink our business model and adapt. There may be a new market to conquer with gaming at the moment… Our main activity is the creation of 3D tools for training through virtual reality, and we are now addressing a professional audience that does not gamble. This activity had to be readapted during the health crisis because of social distancing and because the use of helmets is complicated… Meanwhile, we propose solutions that can be deployed on mobile and PC. We are also developing the use of virtual reality in the medical field to improve pain management. Finally, we have a cultural component in virtual or augmented reality, which is currently on standby.
P-O R: We all have to reposition ourselves. The field of pure mobile gaming is a vector that we’re using for the first time, but it’s also a starting point. We have to rethink events, customer itineraries, touch points, which are becoming more digital… We can see that in this period of crisis, everyone is doing the same things (an FB page, an ad, a webinar…) We didn’t want to settle for the status quo or a “degraded” trade show. It is in the constraint that creativity is liberated!
* The Roude Léiw is the emblem of Luxembourg, used for the Luxembourg pavilion, the inland navigation and aviation pavilion.