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Moss Developer Polyarc Secures $9M Series B Funding For AR Game Development

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Today the developers of Moss, Polyarc, announced a $9 million Series B venture funding round led by Hiro Capital to expand into AR game development. Even still, the developer tells us they’re still committed to making a sequel to Moss.

Anyone that has spent any time inside a VR headset and browsed any of the major storefronts from Oculus Home and Steam to the PSN store have likely seen Quill, the main character from Polyarc’s Moss advertised somewhere. She’s cute, charming, and full of character despite never speaking a word and is the cornerstone of what made Moss such a great experience.

The Series B fund raise is led by Hiro Capital, followed by Vulcan Capital, an existing investor, and Galaxy Interactive via its Galaxy EOS VC Fund, a partnership with EOSIO blockchain software publisher Block.one.

Notably, this fund raise is specifically announced as being targeted at AR game development. This seems odd at first given their experience in VR development, but sounds like it’s all part of their vision for the industry.

“We see VR and AR as a continuum, and there are great games to be made all along that spectrum,” says Lincoln Davis, Publishing Director at Polyarc, in an email to UploadVR. “We’re excited for the opportunity to keep pushing the industry with new ways to experience physical interaction, emotional feedback, and object persistence.”

Since we’re still waiting on an official reveal for their next VR game, presumably Moss 2, it still came as a bit of a surprise. Will this impact Moss 2’s development at all? Is that an AR game now?

“As you covered in the past, the team is excited to continue Quill and the player’s story in the world of Moss,” says Davis. “And we can’t wait to share more.”

That’s reassuring then. There hasn’t really been a big, breakout success in the AR space for gaming yet. Pokemon GO isn’t really true AR and the small games developed for Hololens were mostly just tech demos. Magic Leap has a handful of games, but it was never really designed as a gaming platform.

I asked for more details on their AR plans regarding whether it would include a Moss AR game, new IP, which platforms, etc., but Davis simply said that “has yet to be determined” at this time.

Let us know what you think down in the comments below! For more on Moss, check out our full walkthrough video series.

Source: https://uploadvr.com/moss-developer-polyarc-9m-funding-ar-games/

AR/VR

What the VR is Going on at Facebook? Accounts, Store Content and the Splits

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The launch of the Oculus Quest 2 has largely been a success with Facebook Reality Labs’ Chris Pruett reported as saying its: “beyond what we expected.” But that doesn’t mean to say it’s been entirely plain sailing as there has been a backlash from consumers over a range of issues, some more concerning than others.

Oculus Quest 2

A lot of the grievances stem from Facebook’s new policy of either needing a social media account or merging an Oculus and Facebook one together if you’ve bought the Oculus Quest 2 – no need to just yet if you haven’t. With the two intertwined this has brought worries such as banned accounts, what happens to bought content if you don’t want Facebook and using multiple headsets with the same account.

As widely reported Facebook can ban an account depending on how its used or whether it appears suspicious – no real activity for example. Vice President of Augmented and Virtual Reality at Facebook, Andrew Bosworth held an Instagram Q&A a couple of weeks back addressing that concern saying: “people should continue to make sure their Facebook accounts are in good standing before they buy the headset.” He went on to say that they are trying to resolve issues as soon as they appear. This isn’t likely to appease that have had an account ban.

Then last week the account subject continued to boil as it was revealed that should you delete your Facebook account this will also delete your Oculus information including any Oculus Store purchases – deactivating the account will also stop Oculus access. Whilst this isn’t great news for those who love their Oculus Quest 2 but don’t want a Facebook account anymore, just remember that this practice is common. Most online services like this – Steam for example – require an account to access paid content. Delete the account and away goes your stuff. You only really own it if it’s physical and that’s only possible with PlayStation VR content – GOG.com being the exception.

Oculus Quest 2
Oculus Quest 2 with Elite Strap + Battery accessory

And then there’s this weekend’s furore into using the same account on two headsets if you own the original Oculus Quest and Quest 2 for example. This blew up due to Oculus Support telling someone that doing so could get them banned. Thankfully, this turned out to be wrong with Oculus Support tweeting: “Using the same Facebook account on two or more Oculus headsets simultaneously will NOT get your account “banned.”” Going on to say: “we plan to introduce the ability for multiple users to log into the same device using their own Facebook account.” So at least that’s some good news.

Lastly, there’s the Elite Strap problem. There’s been a massive amount of discussion (and images) over on the Oculus Quest sub-Reddit with customers reporting straps cracking, splitting and simply breaking all in the same spot, the plastic arms which connect the front to the back. A small number could be down to misuse yet the breaking trend continues to grow, very concerning for those with the more expensive battery option. Tellingly, on the Oculus website, both Elite Strap options are now unavailable in every country so this is a major issue needing to be rectified.

These first few weeks have been quite the thunderstorm for Facebook and its Oculus Quest 2 launch. Many will be happy with their new headset – VRFocus’ Oculus Quest 2 review praised the device – with new and improved content but the release hasn’t been plain sailing. Facebook is a dominant force in VR so love it or hate it all you can do is vote with your wallet.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/10/what-the-vr-is-going-on-at-facebook-accounts-store-content-and-the-splits/

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LBE VR: Past, Present and Post Civid Future

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As part of VRFocus’ current Better-Than-Reality-Awards, each category features an industry ambassador to delve into a particular aspect of their subject. Today, Apex Construct developer Fast Travel Games discusses location-based entertainment (LBE) VR gaming. Of course, don’t forget to cast your vote in The Better-Than-Reality-Awards now.

LBE virtual reality (VR) is an experience taking place within simulated environments, which operate in a specific location like theme parks, arcades, entertainment centres, and even movie theatres. While home VR gaming already offers highly immersive experiences, LBE VR raises the bar by offering streamlined options to play with a group of friends in the same physical location, allowing you to use your whole body while engaging with the content and often provides an unmatched level of graphical fidelity to further boost the quality perception.

Wraith: The Oblivion - Afterlife
Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife | Fast Travel Games

Alongside home VR gaming, the LBR VR industry grew rapidly from 2016 onward. According to Greenlight Insights, which focuses on augmented and virtual reality market research, the LBE VR market amounted to $3.6 billion with a growth rate of 44% worldwide in 2019. This year, LBE VR was in a position to quite literally “explode”: Greenlight initially estimated that the market would grow to a $34.6 billion business, almost a x10 increase vs the year prior which would have been a fantastic performance for such a relatively young industry.

However, just like with cinemas and sport arenas, the situation with COVID-19 has massively impacted LBE VR companies in 2020. Not only completely halting the expected growth, but the impact the virus has had on our behaviour in regards to crowd gatherings and health precautions has also led to many LBE VR companies shifting focus towards home VR entertainment or completely new business areas. “We went from a relatively healthy business to zero revenue”, SandboxVE CEO Steve Zhao said in June this year. “We have to rethink our strategy.”

The Void is considered to be one of the most prominent companies in the LBE VR industry today. Operating since 2015 and running VR centres in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, The Void is known world-wide for their LBE VR experiences based on popular franchises like Ghostbusters and Star Wars. Still closed due to the coronavirus, on the official website you can now read: “COVID-19 is affecting all of us – as employees, travellers and communities – in a constantly evolving environment and in unprecedented ways. As a result, our terminals are remaining closed for everybody’s safety and to support our local health officials and government leaders.”

Star Wars Secret of the Empire

Most businesses, not only LBR VR, are affected negatively whenever there is a high level of uncertainty on the market and it is safe to say that COVID-19 has brought a kind of uncertainty we have rarely seen before, changing our everyday lives and how we go about the most mundane of tasks – like going to the food store or greeting someone on the street. I for one hope for a day when LBE VR can pick itself up again and keep building on the already impressive experiences offered. All the nominees in the ‘Best LBE Experience’ category have brought highly immersive content to life in an industry currently suffering badly. Given this, they are all winners in my book.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/10/lbe-vr-past-present-and-post-civid-future/

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Lenovo to Sell Varjo’s Enterprise VR Headsets

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Computing giant Lenovo may have been interested in consumer virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) in the past with devices like the Mirage Solo and Mirage AR but now its firmly focused on enterprise use cases. Today, the company has announced its become a reseller for Varjo‘s high-end, enterprise-class headsets.

Varjo’s latest range of headsets includes the mixed reality XR-1 and the new VR-2 & VR-2 Pro, with pricing starting from €4,995 EUR for the VR-2. They come with Varjo’s unique display design, the Bionic Display. It’s 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). While the VR-2 Pro features Ultraleap hand tracking.

Enterprise customers will now be able to purchase the headsets directly through Lenovo, either by contacting a local Lenovo representative or via the “Contact Us” link on Lenovo.com.

“Many existing VR offerings in the market today are enterprise versions of a consumer designed product,” said Mike Leach, solution portfolio lead, Lenovo in a statement. “However, Lenovo’s professional workstations and Varjo’s VR and XR headsets are specifically engineered to perform in the most sophisticated and demanding enterprise use cases. Our ability to offer customers a single point of purchase for certified workstations and VR/XR devices streamlines access to the tools needed for immersive workflows that are changing the way we work today.”

Varjo XR-1 Developer Edition

The announcement also adds more certified Lenovo workstations to the Varjo compatible catalogue for companies looking for a suitable pairing. These are:

Optimized to support the VR-2, VR-2 Pro and XR-1 devices:

  • ThinkStation P520
  • ThinkStation P720
  • ThinkStation P920

Optimized to support the VR-2 and VR-2 Pro devices:

  • ThinkPad P53
  • ThinkPad P73
  • ThinkPad P15
  • ThinkPad P17

“One of the biggest obstacles in accelerating the usage and growth of professional VR/XR is getting all the right equipment sourced for an enterprise-grade set-up and ensuring compatibility between computers and headsets,” said Timo Toikkanen, CEO of Varjo. “With Lenovo becoming a Varjo reseller, we eliminate a lot of this complexity, making it even easier for customers to adopt VR/XR in the workplace for increased productivity and ROI.”

When it comes to Lenovo’s own XR solutions the company has partnered with Pico on the 3DoF Mirage VR S3 headset and its ThinkReality A6 AR device is primarily used for training and education solutions. For further updates from Lenovo, keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/10/lenovo-to-sell-varjos-enterprise-vr-headsets/

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