Thirdverse, a Japanese VR game developing startup, has raised $8.5M in series A funding.
About the funding round
Investment Management company Japan Associated Finance Co., Ltd (JAFCO) Japan led the round. Other investors included Presence Capital, Incubate Fund, Sisu Game Ventures, and KDDI. Masaru Ohnogi, the founder of Thirdvise, confirmed that the investment would go towards expanding the company with new hires.
This funding depicted continued trust of investors in the VR industry. “In the rapidly growing VR gaming landscape, Thirdverse stands out as having strong leadership, deep relationships, and a big vision to become the category leader in this market,” said Paul Brigael, the founding partner of Sisu Ventures and Presence Capital.
It is one of the earliest leading VR gaming companies in Japan. The company was founded in Tokyo, Japan, four years ago as Yomuneco, but then rebranded itself as “Thirdverse” to align with its company mission of making a “Third Place within the Metaverse,” wherever “each person has decisions in his or her own hands to live whatever life he or she would want to.” The company is presently focused on multiplayer VR games, however, its final goal is to combine virtual reality with blockchain technology to produce “VR worlds”.
Thirdverse released its debut multiplayer sword fighting virtual reality game titled Swords of Gargantua in 2019. Thirdverse is currently working on releasing other VR games including Frostpoint VR: Proving Ground. This multiplayer shooter game will be released for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive VR and Valve Index headsets.
With COVID-19, the concept of VR games has become more relevant as everything from offices and conferences to concerts has been brought to customers’ homes. Increased sales and number of users since March is the direct result of this. Ohnogi said that the user engagement levels have not dropped despite the lifting of stay at home orders in some countries. Thirdverse’s current users are mostly based in America and Japan.
About the Investor
JAFCO ( Japan Associated Finance Co.) is venture capital, incubator and private equity firm based in Japan. They have invested in more than 4000 companies in various sectors including AI, Fintech, Healthcare, Media & Entertainment, Saas and many more. The company has also invested in another Japanese VR firm called Nurve, a cloud-based distribution platform for VR apps.
About the Japanese VR industry
The size of the Virtual Reality market is expected to grow 10 times over the next five years in Japan. Till now, VR has largely been utilized in Japan for entertainment purposes. However, in the near future, it’s expected that the technology is going to be applied in various industries like medicine, tourism, retail and manufacturing. Many players, including Japanese electronics manufacturers, are already providing VR/AR technologies for industrial solutions.
With the adoption of 5th Generation (5G) wireless technology in Japan, VR is expected to flourish. Major Japanese telecommunication companies like NTT Docomo, KDDI, and Softbank are trying to create VR/AR viewing platforms utilizing 5G at sports games and other live events to provide new experiences to audiences. Additionally, The mobile apps industry is predicted to expand from 2020.
The Japanese Government has always been a strong supporter of new technologies. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) provide grants for content creators that leverage advanced content creation technologies, including VR/AR, to market products, services, or tourism in Japanese regional areas.
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