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Enterprise VR Hardware Specialist Varjo Raises $54 Million in Latest Funding Round




Varjo, the Finnish virtual reality (VR) company behind headsets like the mixed reality XR-1 and the new VR-2/VR-2 Pro has been enjoying an influx of investment in 2020. Last month the company announced it had been awarded an Epic Megagrant and today it has confirmed the closure of a Series C funding round of $54 million USD.

Varjo products

Existing investors including Lifeline Ventures, Atomico, EQT Ventures and Volvo Cars Tech Fund participated, whilst the round also saw Tesi, NordicNinja, and Swisscanto Invest by Zürcher Kantonalbank invest for the first time. Varjo also announced that Timo Toikkanen (previously COO of Varjo) has been appointed as the new CEO with co-founder and previous CEO, Niko Eiden, staying on as CXO and board member. 

This brings the total investment in Varjo to over $100 million as the company continues to expand its global presence and improve its hardware lineup. Companies including Volvo Cars, Boeing, Audi and Siemens already use its range of headsets, from training to design.

“We are seeing tremendous demand for virtual and mixed reality use cases, particularly as much of the world continues to work remotely,” said Toikkanen in a statement. “When you combine the photorealistic resolution and accurate, integrated eye tracking found in our devices with the broad software compatibility we offer, the possibilities for creating, training and running research in immersive environments are endless. With support from our growing group of investors, we look forward to scaling our operations and delivering the cutting-edge technology our customers need to transform the way they work.”

Varjo XR-1

Varjo’s headsets are known for their unique display design – called the Bionic Display. Its made up of two screens, a small 3000ppi display for fine, close up detail and a larger, lower-resolution ‘Context Screen’ to provide a wider field of view (FoV). The Varjo XR-1 Developer Edition – which is based on the original VR-1 – arrived earlier this year and retails for $9,995.

The Varjo VR-2 and VR-2 Pro both launched last year, updating the original VR headsets will better screens and features such as improved peripheral vision and colour consistency. Like all the company’s products, these are purely focused on the enterprise market, the Varjo VR-2 starts from $4,995 while the VR-2 Pro starts from $5,995. For further updates from Varjo, keep reading VRFocus.



Microsoft to Acquire Bethesda’s Parent Company ZeniMax for $7.5B




Microsoft today announced that it’s entered into an agreement to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of game studio Bethesda Softworks. According to TechCrunch, the price was set at $7.5 billion.

The acquisition is slated to include all of ZeniMax’s properties including Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios.

Once approved, this will make Microsoft the owners of some of the most influential titles in modern gaming, including franchises such as The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Dishonored, Prey, Quake, and Starfield.

ZeniMax’s fleet of studios have also been responsible for a number of VR titles such as DOOM VFR, Fallout 4 VR, Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot, and Skyrim VR.

Image courtesy Bethesda Softworks

Microsoft says in a blog post that the inclusion of ZeniMax’s studios will help continue the company’s commitment “to deliver a breadth of amazing games to discover and play on Xbox.”

Although Microsoft hasn’t said as much, it’s likely Bethesda will be narrowing its focus to develop their long-standing franchises for Xbox—an expensive weapon in the coming battle with Sony’s PlayStation 5.

“One of the things that has me most excited is seeing the roadmap with Bethesda’s future games, some announced and many unannounced, to Xbox console and PC including Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios,” says Phil Spencer, head of Xbox.

Although it’s still unclear how the acquisition will affect Bethesda’s future VR aspirations—Microsoft still has no clear plan for VR headset support on its Xbox platform—Oculus’ Consulting CTO John Carmack says the acquisition may be a good thing for him at least.

Carmack co-founded id Software and was lead programmer of titles such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake. Ever since ZeniMax and Facebook’s Oculus were engaged in a lengthy legal battle over the alleged theft of intellectual property developed by Carmack back when he was employed by id Software, he was understandably unable to publicly engage with the games he developed.


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Fallout & Doom Creator Bethesda is Being Acquired by Microsoft




Microsoft is in the habit of buying developers to bring under its Xbox brand, doing so in grand fashion today by announcing the acquisition of Zenimax Media and its videogame publisher Bethesda Softworks, which is behind big IP’s like Fallout, DOOM, Skyrim, Wolfenstein and many more.

DOOM VFR screenshot
Doom VFR

The agreement sees Microsoft purchase Zenimax Media for $7.5 billion USD (£5.85bn GBP) in cash. This will mean Microsoft has 23 studio teams under its banner – up from 15 – with Bethesda’s franchises now guaranteed to be added to Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft has stated plans to bring: “Bethesda’s future games into Xbox Game Pass the same day they launch on Xbox or PC.”

This may make quite the difference to fans of Bethesda’s franchises planning their next console purchase, with both Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 on their way this holiday season. “Generations of gamers have been captivated by the renowned franchises in the Bethesda portfolio and will continue to be so for years to come as part of Xbox,”  said Phil Spencer, executive vice president, Gaming at Microsoft in a statement.

So what does this mean for virtual reality (VR) gamers? Bethesda has supported the VR community with a range of ports and original content over the years, from Fallout 4 VR to Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot. At this stage, there’s no reason to believe that support for VR will stop, even if Xbox Series X doesn’t support the technology. Microsoft previously acquired inXile Entertainment in 2018 and by the end of 2020, the studio will be releasing multiplayer shooter Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds.

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot
Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot

There is a greater possibility going forward that Bethesda and its subsidiaries won’t be releasing any content for PlayStation 5 and therefore future PlayStation VR headsets. But this won’t be happening right away, as this type of process isn’t quick with Microsoft expecting the acquisition to be completed in the second half of 2021. “We’re still working on the same games we were yesterday, made by the same studios we’ve worked with for years, and those games will be published by us,” adds SVP of PR & Marketing Pete Hines in a blog posting.

The announcement continues a selection of acquisitions affecting the VR gaming landscape, with Koch Media purchasing Vertigo Games this month, the team behind Arizona SunshineSkyworld, Ghost Patrol VR and A Fisherman’s Tale. Whilst Facebook picked up Ready at Dawn, the creator of Lone Echo and Echo VR, currently working on Lone Echo 2.

VRFocus will continue its coverage of Microsoft’s acquisition of Zenimax Media, reporting back with further updates.


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Play Puzzle Title Tsuro: The Game of the Path on Oculus Quest in October




Tabletop board game Tsuro: The Game of the Path arrived for Oculus Rift last year thanks to Thunderbox Entertainment, offering a tactile yet zen-like experience. Today, the developer has announced the videogame is coming to Oculus Quest next month.

Tsuro: The Game of the Path

Playable solo or as a multiplayer, Tsuro: The Game of the Path provides a simple gameplay mechanic, place tiles on a board to move your stone, keeping it in play for as long as possible. As the number of tiles increase so do the chances of your stone following another player’s path which could very well lead to your stone leaving the table and ending your game.

Tsuro: The Game of the Path is set in a tranquil Japanese garden with animals wandering through and the idyllic sounds of nature in the air. So you can take a stroll whilst the other players take their turns – the videogame supports up to 8 across platforms – or to get a better viewpoint of the evolving board, teleporting up to a roof for example.

The aim of the puzzle title is to make sure your stone counter is the last on the board, not an easy task when their are many paths for it to follow.

Tsuro: The Game of the Path

Thunderbox Entertainment will release Tsuro: The Game of the Path for Oculus Quest on the 23rd October, priced at £7.99 GBP/$9.99 USD.

October is set to be a big month for Oculus Quest content thanks to the launch of Oculus Quest 2 on 13th. Title confirmed during Facebook Connect last week include The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners from Skydance Interactive, Resolution Games’ BlastonLittle Witch Academia: VR Broom Racing and Enhance Games’ Rez Infinite. As further VR videogames are announced, VRFocus will keep you updated. 


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