GREE, which operates a social network that users interact with through mobile games, has launched a $12 million fund to support early-stage virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) companies in both gaming and non-gaming sectors.
The fund is managed by San Francisco-based GREE VR Capital LLC, and has already invested in two VR-related companies – VRChat Inc, a platform that allows users to create, publish, and explore VR worlds with users around the world, and interior architecture firm SPACES, Inc.
This news comes hot at the heels of Mark Zuckerberg emphasising that VR will be a key component on the world’s largest social network over the next 10 years.
In a press release, GREE noted that the virtual reality market is expected to hit $80 billion by 2025, indicating that the industry today is in a ripe position for investment and growth.
“The GVR Fund highlights GREE’s commitment to the potential of virtual reality as an emerging platform. We not only see ourselves as a content developer but as an investor as well. We want to create the same values we successfully did in the past through investments in companies when the mobile platform took off,” senior vice-president at GREE Inc, Naoki Aoyagi said.
GREE VR Capital managing director Teppei Tsutsui commented that GREE VR’s experience in working with major industry players such as Oculus, Samsung, HTC and Google prove that the firm has the expertise and relationships to make a significant impact in the market.
“In addition, our LPs are a selective group of strategic investors who can bring significant value to companies. We can’t wait to see what unique experiences early-stage companies are creating, and to identify how the GVR Fund can help bring their ideas into the hands of consumers worldwide,” he said.
GREE had previously set up a $10 million fund to invest in mobile games, when the smartphone gaming was gaining traction in North America. It was primarily to jumpstart games on the GREE platform, which needed a lot of content
GREE has studios in Tokyo, San Francisco, Berlin and Melbourne and is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
It has showcased its first VR title – Sarah and the Viper’s Crown – at the Tokyo Game Show in 2015 and launched GREE VR Studio, its internal VR production studio shortly after that in November 2015.
The first game from the GREE VR Studio, Tomb of the Golems, will launch this month, and will ship soon at the Gear VR Oculus Store.