Mobile Gaming Giant GREE Launches $12 Million VR Fund

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a1One way to tell that an industry is about to explode with innovation is by looking at the number of large investments that are being poured into startups within that industry.  While the virtual reality investment space has been strong over the last couple of years, recently we have seen things pick up quite a big.  Today yet another VR investment fund has popped up, this time from the Tokyo-based mobile gaming giant GREE.

While you may have heard of GREE from one of their popular games such as Crime City, Modern War, or Knights & Dragons, soon the company could become a giant within the mobile VR gaming and experience department as well.  This morning the company officially announced that they have set up a $12 million investment fund, called the GVR Fund, for the purpose of fostering growth of early-stage virtual reality content companies.

“We believe that VR will soon become a platform and a new medium with which people will spend a large amount of time,” stated Teppei Tsutsui, director of investment at GREE International. “We want to create the same value for the VR space that we have successfully done in the past through investing in the mobile ecosystem.”

While the fund will certainly put GREE on the map when it comes to virtual reality, the company is not a VR virgin per se.  In fact, if you recall, they have already invested into two startups related to the VR space.  This includes Spaces, which is basically a portal for VR, and VRChat, which allows users to create their own VR worlds and then share them with others.

“We see the opportunity of VR as an emerging platform, so we plan to invest in the entire spectrum of the industry—from gaming to other nongaming contents to tools and software to underlying technologies,” Tsutsui stated. “The only exceptions are hardware and equipment; we won’t invest in those. Right now we see mostly the pay-to-play model, where you need to pay $3 to $10 to purchase each app or game,” Tsutsui says. “Just as mobile has moved from pay-to-play to free-to-play as it attracted more users, we believe the same thing will happen with the VR space.”

While the GVR Fund certainly wants to choose a bunch of winners within the VR space, their time horizon seems to be more geared towards the longterm rather than short term, as they envision the mobile VR gaming market needing around five years before it becomes mainstream.  It will be interesting to see which companies they decide to take a stake in over the coming months ahead.  Let us know your thoughts on this story in the GVR Fund forum on VRTalk.com