Seattle start-up Against Gravity has raised USD$24m (£18.9m) of VC funding. The money will help bolster Rec Room, the studio’s blend of social space, game compilation and user content generation platform.
As reported by TechCrunch, Against Gravity raised the investment over two rounds of funding. The first Series A funding round was led by Sequoia, while Index Ventures spearheaded the second, Series B, which concluded recently. Investors in Against Gravity include Acequia Capital, Anorak Ventures, Betaworks, DAG Ventures, First Round Capital and Maveron.
Virtual reality has seen its fair share of ups and downs since the infamous 2012 Oculus Kickstarter campaign thrust the technology back into the spotlight. For all the hype, successes, predictions, and column inches generated, VR has not yet become the everyday technology some feel it has the potential to be. And neither has it been a failure, gaining traction across enterprise, industry and even gaming.
Rec Room, for example, has continued to thrive as a leading focal point for the devoted consumer VR audience that exists today, seemingly proving that there is interest in VR as a social and gaming platform. As an online multiplayer experience, Rec Room is built around a central hub, where players can meet and interact. Equally, users can build their own games within the platform, presenting them as ‘Rooms’ that can be visited by other players through the main hub.
Those Rooms can contain puzzle games, sports games, shooters and much more besides, as well as ‘non-gaming’ experiences, such as hangout spots. Presently, Rec Room is poised to see its millionth player-generated room. That fact, combined with the interest from investors, seems to suggest that VR as a social and gaming entity continues to have commercial value and the opportunity for growth. That growth may have been slow, but Rec Room’s consistency with regard to users clearly demonstrates that VR has not gone away.
A key to Rec Room’s success has been its cross platform nature; already available for PS4, PC and Android (via the Oculus Quest headset) it is soon coming to iOS. And users don’t have to use VR to play it. Rec Room is certainly a VR-centric platform, but Against Gravity have been incredibly smart in not ostracising the user that doesn’t own – or can’t make use of – VR hardware.
Rec Room is also free-to-play, and currently does not monetise aggressively, instead focusing on customisation of player avatars. Going forward, the team are still considering the best way to monetise their creation appropriately.
“I think a direction that we’re actually excited about is that we want to let the users creating some of this content charge tokens to play them,” Against Gravity CEO – and former Microsoft principal program manager on the HoloLens AR platform – Nick Fajt told TechCrunch. “I think that’s one that we’re kind of on the cusp of doing and we’re hoping to get that out later this year.”