The Leeds-based independent games studio and virtual reality developer said that the funding will allow them to execute the next phase of its growth strategy as it targets working with some of the world’s biggest actors in the video game entertainment market.
Founded just over two years ago, XR Games has already collaborated with big-name brands including Sony Pictures Virtual Reality and Rovio Entertainment for console VR games, and has recently released The Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure to critical acclaim.
The studio is also set to embark on several new strategic partnerships, including one with an LA-based production company, and will move into new premises in 2020. The funding has come from Praetura Ventures and represents the first time the Manchester-based organisation has invested into Yorkshire.
Bobby Thandi, founder and CEO of XR Games, told The Yorkshire Post that he expected the market for Virtual Reality (VR) games to explode and said he wanted his firm to be at the heart of this.
He said: “We think VR is the easiest and most accessible form of gaming ever to come out and as the technology improves it is going to become more similar to actual real life interactions – that’s why we think it is going to blow up and become mass market and we want to be there when it does by making great games.”
Mr Thandi said that he wanted to business to be known for “putting Leeds on the map, becoming world-famous for working with Hollywood film studios and being known for great, fun, games”.
He added: “We believe XR is for everyone. If you think about VR you are essentially just doing real world movements. With a Sony Playstation game, my parents would never be able to do it because they wouldn’t understand all of the buttons etc. “Whereas with VR you put on a headset and are able to pick up an object as normal.”
The 16-strong team is set to hire six additional members of staff and relocate to new premises in the Kirkstall area of the city in 2020.
As part of the deal, Praetura Ventures’ director Mark Lyons will join the board as a non-executive director.
Mr Lyons said: “Virtual reality gaming is a multibillion-dollar industry set to grow significantly within the next five years and as technology continues to advance at a rapid rate, XR Games is well placed to keep pace with this demand.
“We are delighted to have done our first deal in Yorkshire, which will hopefully act as a catalyst to see more investment opportunities in the region.”
Paul Jefferson and Hannah Silverstone from Gateley Legal advised Praetura Ventures.
XR Games was advised by Lewis Silkin LLP.
The market for Virtual Reality Games was worth $8bn last year and is forecast to reach as high as $44bn by 2024, according to data from MarketsandMarkets.
Major manufacturers including Facebook and HTC are also expected to bring out next generation headsets over the next year, with Apple rumoured to be unveiling its own device in 2020.
In September this year, Mark Zuckerberg commented publicly that he believes VR/AR will be the next computing platform.
He purchased VR headset maker Oculus in 2014 for $2bn.