Against Gravity Announces $24 Million in New Funding for VR Development
Against Gravity, the makers of the virtual reality hit game ‘Rec Room’, have raised $24 million over two funding rounds. The Series A and Series B funding rounds were led by Sequoia and Index Ventures respectively according to a report by TechCrunch. Other participating top investors in the funding rounds included Anorak Ventures, First Round Capital, Betaworks, Maveron, DAG Ventures and Acequia Capital.
Against Gravity hasn’t broken down the specific details of the funding rounds. In its Series B funding round, the VR startup was authorized to raise a total of $15.4 million at a post-money valuation of $126 million. This is based on the information in the Delaware stock authorization docs from PitchBook.com. However, the virtual reality studio is yet to comment on the valuation.
Although it isn’t a household name yet, Rec Room has been a huge virtual reality hit. It is one of the major launch titles in Oculus Quest and has grown increasingly popular with VR enthusiasts thanks to the diversity of gameplay it provides along with its wide support for various virtual reality hardware. Rec Room is a virtual reality social auditorium app that enables users to create virtual experiences or “rooms” which can be accessed by other headset-wearing users. It’s one of the top social VR platforms currently. Users don’t need any technical or coding knowledge to create these virtual rooms inside the walls of Rec Room. The room-creation happens inside the VR game and multiple users can participate in the process simultaneously.
Rec Room has been quite robust. More than a million rooms have been created so far by users on the virtual reality platform. According to Against Gravity, these VR environments cover diverse experiences including club houses, sports games, escape rooms, shooters and adventure quests among others to cater to the diverse user preferences.
There are some virtual reality studios such as Linden Labs (Second Life creator) whose efforts have been focused on user-created environments that are unrealistic but unvarying. Against Gravity has upped the ante by focusing its VR efforts on dynamic gameplay modes where the emphasis is placed on the user interactions as opposed to the graphic fidelity.
The Seattle-based augmented and virtual reality studio was founded in 2016 and has 35 employees that build and maintain Rec Room. Rec Room can be played on multiple platforms and plans are currently underway to roll out iOS support, a development that will take the game to a much broader user base beyond its current VR-centric platforms.
Against Gravity hasn’t monetized Rec Room as aggressively as it should. The studio believes its vast user-generated rooms or environments will expand the scope for monetization down the road where users will be spending in-game tokens on multiple purchases beyond the upgrades into the Playmobil-like avatars on the platform.
Given the slow growth of the VR market, Against Gravity is content to bide its time and enter the market at the right time. The company’s strategy is to stay lean and wait for expansion of the market instead of simply flooding the market with experiences that still don’t have a critical mass of users. Against Gravity believes that the coming rollout of the standalone mobile virtual reality headsets which will have positional tracking and motion controllers will spell out a watershed moment for the industry. The recently released Oculus Quest headset is a pointer to the kind of virtual reality future that we might have.
So far, more than $5 million of Oculus Quest content has been sold in the Oculus store during the first two weeks of the headset launch, a pointer to the pre-existing high demand for virtual reality content. For free-to-play developers such as Against Gravity, the maturation of the VR market will certainly spell good tidings in the future.