GDC Day Three Roundup: Epic's USD$100m 'MegaGrants', Oculus' New VR Headset & Keyword's €100m Acquisitions Pot

As GDC continues to thunder forward, Fortnite and Unreal outfit Engine Epic has revealed a USD$100m (£76.6m) fund for developers that use its tech.

The MegaGrants initiative has been launched alongside a new suite of online multiplayer dev tools; but the funding pot isn’t reserved purely for games makers.

As reported by GamesIndustry.biz, studios can apply for grants that range from USD$5,000-to-USD$500,000 (£3,800-to-£383,000) – and here ‘studios’ refers to game makers, TV and film production firms, enterprise developers, education specialists, and even tool and tech builders.

“Thanks to Fortnite’s financial success, we’re launching an entirely new grant program”, said Epic CEO Tim Sweeney at the company’s GDC keynote (as quoted by GamesIndustry.biz). “This is an expanded fund, it’s a five-year program that continues to provide no strings attached grant funding – meaning there are no commercial hooks back to Epic, meaning you don’t have to put your game on our store, you don’t have to commit to any deliverables.”

GDC also saw the reveal of the new, improved VR headset from the Facebook-owned Oculus, the Rift S. If consumer and entertainment VR has struggled to gain sensational traction, it is in part due to the high combined cost of headsets and supporting hardware (affordable phone-based VR options exist, of course, but they deliver much less immersive, less nuanced results).

The Rift S seems to be pitched in part to address the cost issue, while delivering a significant upgrade in terms of the specs of the outgoing model. At USD$399 (£305), it is the same price as the existing Rift, so you’d be forgiven for wondering how it offers much of a saving. However, the Rift S – due this spring – also includes two Oculus Touch motion-sensitive controllers as standard. Recently, the outgoing Rift would retail at USD$599 (£459) with Touch controllers included. MCV predicts that the Rift S could cost consumers around £399 in the UK, taking into account the likes of taxes.

And Epic wasn’t the only one at GDC that has revealed a sizeable pot of money to spend. As reported by PCGamesInsider, the sizeable games services company Keywords Studios has amassed €100m (£87m) to acquire game outfits.

“I don’t think we’re going to be spending €100m this year unless we find something nice and chunky”, Keywords CEO Andrew Day told PCGamesInsider. “But for the kind of sweet-spot acquisitions we do, which are USD$5m (£3.8m) to USD$10m (£7.7m) to USD $20m (£15.3m) range, we’ll have plenty of firepower for those.”

Check back in tomorrow for more news from GDC.