Hands-on with Boule Petanque: A faithful and charming VR recreation of the French sport

Hands-on with Boule Petanque: A faithful and charming VR recreation of the French sport

Boule Petanque is a social sports game for Meta Quest. I met the German producer at Reboot Develop 2024 and had a chat with him.

I met Kai Kramhöft in Dubrovnik last week and he introduced me to his Meta Quest game Boule Petanque.

The VR game takes you to a fictional boules court in the middle of an idyllic village in the south of France. A romantic café, the sounds of a chanson and the chirping of cicadas create an authentic atmosphere.

The game is played according to the official rules of competitive Pétanque. In a first step, the "jack", a small ball, is thrown onto the field. Then each player throws three metal balls or boules ("boules" is the French word for "balls"). For each metal ball that is closer to the jack than the opponent's best ball, you get one point. The first player to reach 13 points wins.

Boule Petanque can be played against an AI or against humans. As with real Pétanque, you can play 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2 or 3 vs. 3.

The VR game has a loyal fan base

Computer scientist Kai Kramhöft and his girlfriend Claudia Bölling are big Pétanque fans and have a group they play with in their spare time. When the pandemic hit Germany and prevented them from playing together, Kramhöft decided to create a VR game that would recreate the sport as authentically as possible. He hired developer Frank Schönhofer, who created a Unity game based on Kramhöft's design. Bölling is helping with the marketing.

Although Schönhofer lives not far from the couple near Cologne, Germany, they only met in the actual game during the pandemic. "We discussed the new features and requirements in the game. We met there, threw a few balls and discussed what needed to be improved and what bugs needed to be fixed. This way, we were able to directly see the bugs," Kramhöft tells me.


Boule Petanque was released on App Lab in the summer of 2021. Since then, it has received nearly 100 reviews and an average rating of 4.6 out of 5. According to Kramhöft, the VR game is mainly played by French and German players, while players from the US are in the minority. According to Kramhöft, Boule Petanque has a high retention rate and many people who find the game online or try it out go on to buy it.

A VR game reminiscent of Walkabout Mini Golf

After returning from the conference, I met Kramhöft in the game. Boule Petanque immediately reminded me of Walkabout Mini Golf: it offers intuitive play, a relaxed atmosphere, and plenty of room for social interaction.

Since its release, the game has been continuously improved through updates. A spectator mode, different surfaces with varying physics and support for portée throws are currently in development.

The goal is to release the game on the Horizon Store one day. "The project is a hobby, but we still want to expand the game and make it more popular," says Kramhöft. He dreams of one day launching a new boules court on the Seine with a view of the Eiffel Tower and passing boats.

Boule Petanque is available for $10 in the App Lab. You can try the game for free as part of a free trial.