This week marks the start of the long-awaited merger of Etherium with the Beacon blockchain. ETH, the basis of many in-game economies, is transitioning to a “proof of stake” versus “proof of work” validation method, which will now be much more energy efficient and significantly reduce transaction fees. This could mean the beginning of the end of the “crypto winter”, or further proof that the skeptics were right.
HaptX today announced $23 million in strategic funding round led by AIS Global and Crescent Cove Advisors, with participation from Verizon Ventures, Mason Avenue Investments and Taylor Frigon Capital Partners. This investment brings HaptX’s total funding to over $58 million. Centerview Partners acted as financial advisor to HaptX. The new cash will allow the company to expand the commercialization of its haptic gloves in business, where they are used for remote telepresence robots, often combined with virtual reality.
Cognitive3D raises $2.5 million for spatial analytics The Vancouver-based company collects and measures user behavior in immersive 3D environments. The round was led by Konvoy, the Denver-based venture capital firm that recently launched a new $150 million fund, with participation from Space Capital and Boost.vc.
The Roblox Developer Conference showcases the development of the Metaverse. Roblox has come a long way from kids begging their parents for Robux to becoming a true adult platform. Boxy avatars will soon give way to more expressive avatars that mimic our expressions and movements. The company will launch announcements next year. Additionally, the company plans to invest heavily in its developer community, adding an additional $10 million to its existing gaming fund, now a $35 million fund that provides developers with the resources they need to create the next generation of experiences on Roblox.
Meta’s Hyped VR Headset may have been leaked by a guy in a hotel. In what looks like a publicity stunt, hotel worker Ramiro Cardenas claims to have found a pre-release boxed Meta Cambria (for sale as Quest Pro). Supposedly he returned it to its owner, but not before taking a video of the unboxing and uploading it to Facebook.
StatusPro launches the first officially licensed NFL VR game, professional era and if it’s really like the trailer above, it’ll be the best football sim yet, and just in time for the start of a new season. StatusPRO was founded with a $5.2 seed round that included professional sports investors like LeBron James, Drake and Naomi Osaka. 2019 NFL MVP Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is on the cover. The game features players from current rosters and all 32 NFL teams and locker rooms. The new NFL title is $29.99 from Quest and PSVR stores.
Practice with PSVR2 Road To VR founder and EIC Ben Lang visited Sony in San Mateo, where he spent several hours in the new device. “There is no doubt in my mind that PSVR 2, combined with the power of PS5, is a real generational step forward for virtual reality on PlayStation, while offering some lessons for the rest of the VR headset market” , Lang wrote in his in-depth review. The new PSVR2 headset is slated for 2023. Pricing has yet to be disclosed.
Disney and Niantic announced MARVEL World of Heroes at Disney’s D23 exhibition. The game is designed to be a social gaming experience in PvP and cooperative social action. Players will be able to create their own superhero identity and origin story, complete superhero missions, and thwart interdimensional threats. As players level up, they will unlock gear and abilities. The game is expected to launch next year.
The Disney+ short “Remembering” features AR EFX. Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) stars in the short which has a prominent sequence where the user must augment with a smartphone (iOS only) in order to experience the full effect of a cascading stunt from the TV in their living room.
So Real to Open Massive VRcade at Shanghai Disney Dubbed “The VR SuperSpace,” the venue will feature two floors of immersive games and entertainment based on the popular Chinese stories “Journey to the West” and “The Monkey King.” Experiences include a weightlessness simulation and a VR motorcycle experience.
AWE Asia ended two weeks ago. Two thousand people attended the Shanghai event, and another seven thousand participated remotely. Keynote addresses were given by AWE Co-Founder Ori Inbar and Alvin Grayling, President of HTC China. Then, AWE Europe, in Lisbon, on October 21 and 22.
Meta teams up with March on the 2022 Washington Film Festival (MOWFF) which will run from September 28 to October 1 in Washington, DC, to debut from its first cohort in the inaugural Virtual Reality Equity Lab & Fellowship. Participants will launch new immersive VR projects that advance civil rights goals. MOWFF and Meta provided virtual reality tutelage to storytellers historically underrepresented in emerging media.
This week in XR is also a podcast hosted by the author of this column and Ted Schilowitz, head of future technologies at Paramount Global. Our guest this week is Tipatat Chernavasian, General Partner of the VR Fund, whose investments include Rec Room (a unicorn worth over $1 billion) and 8th Wall (sold to Niantic last year). We can be found here Spotify, itunesand Youtube.
What we read
Check in at Virtual Reality Kmart (Megan Farokhmanesh/Wired)
Teenagers still love Snapchat. But his business is struggling to grow. (Will Oremus and Naomi Nix/Washington Post)
Mark Zuckerberg ‘keeps derailing’ Facebook, Harvard expert says: ‘He’s really gone astray’ (Annika Kim Constantino/CNBC)