Varjo, the Helsinki, Finland-based creators of high pixel density VR/AR headsets for enterprise, today announced it’s closed a $54 million Series C funding round. The company says it will use the funds to accelerate the global expansion and development of its XR hardware and software products.
Investors include Tesi, NordicNinja, Swisscanto Invest by Zürcher Kantonalbank, Lifeline Ventures, Atomico, EQT Ventures and Volvo Cars Tech Fund.
The Series C financing brings the company’s overall total funds to $100 million to date.
In addition to the latest funding round, the company’s COO, Timo Toikkanen, will be leading Varjo as CEO. Co-founder and previous CEO, Niko Eiden, will be continuing as CXO and as a board member.
“We are seeing tremendous demand for virtual and mixed reality use cases, particularly as much of the world continues to work remotely,” said Toikkanen. “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 is known for its enterprise-level “human-eye resolution” VR/AR headsets, including the XR-1 Developer Edition, VR-2 and VR-2 Pro. Companies such as Volvo Cars, Boeing, Audi, and Siemens use Varjo headsets for industrial applications including training and simulation, design and engineering, and research and development.
Since its founding in 2016, Varjo has expanded its global operations and reseller network to over 40 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with the launch of sales and direct shipping to markets such as Singapore, Israel, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
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.
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.
Great! I think Microsoft has been a good parent company for gaming IPs, and they don’t have a grudge against me, so maybe I will be able to re engage with some of my old titles. https://t.co/GijQGEL4tZ
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) September 21, 2020
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.
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.
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.
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 Sunshine, Skyworld, 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.
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.
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.
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’ Blaston, Little 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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