Train2Game News eSports VR Game 

Seattle-based Drifter Entertainment has announced that is has raised $2.25 million in seed funding to continue and bolster development of its virtual reality e-sports games. 
Drifter founders Ray Davis, Kenneth Scott, and Brian Murphy have spent their careers building platforms including HoloLens, Oculus Rift, Xbox One, and Unreal Engine 4, as well as games such as Gears of War, Doom 3, Halo 4, and Bullet Train.

The investment has been led by the highly regarded VC firm, Signia Venture Partners.  Signia has previously invested in Alibaba, Boxed, Playdom, Adify, and Flycast Communications. The firm’s other gaming investments include Super Evil Mega Corp and Phoenix Labs.  Signia partner, Sunny Dhillon, will be joining Drifter’s board as a result of the investment.  “You rarely come across a founder like Ray with the technical and creative chops found in very few gaming company founders. We’re excited to build market defining virtual reality games with Team Drifter,” says Sunny Dhillon.

Another major investment comes from Initialized Capital, which has been among the first checks invested in billion dollar companies like Instacart, Cruise, and Zenefits. “We’re looking for foundational companies and this is our first VR bet, because this is the first time we saw something in the space that really felt like it could be a major level up in gaming,” said General Partner and cofounder, Alexis Ohanian (also: cofounder, Reddit).

Additional investors in Drifter to date include Presence Capital, The VR Fund, Pathbreaker Ventures, and Anorak Ventures.

“We’re thrilled and humbled by the support we’ve received from our investors, both financial and otherwise,” says Drifter’s Ray Davis, who most recently served as general manager for Unreal Engine 4, following his time at Microsoft on the HoloLens project. “We feel incredibly lucky to have found the right partners that not only want us to succeed, but clearly understand our vision for the future of VR gaming.”

“The titles we’re working on are ambitious experiences designed for a new medium, and knowing that we’ll have the capital to see them through is certainly empowering,” says Murphy, who helped launch the Xbox One, Kinect, and HoloLens while working for Microsoft over the course of the last decade. His most recent project was helping to create the virtual travel experience Holo Tour for HoloLens. The studio’s third cofounder, Kenneth Scott, has worked as an art director for some 20 years in AAA game development, including id Software and Microsoft Game Studios on the Halo franchise. He’s spent the last two years building conversion on contact content at Oculus.

For more information on Drifter, please visit: http://driftervr.com

Train2Game News VR Animation

Limitless, Ltd. today announced a new cloud-based animation toolset that allows rapid prototyping of animated VR content inside a virtual reality world. For the first time ever, anyone working on VR content can intuitively animate characters in real time within the VR world itself – and accomplish this at least 16 times faster than with current animation software.  By making VR content faster and easier to create, developers can run more experiments and create more compelling content for VR, including games and films that involve interactive character’s.

The new animation toolset is the first-of-its-kind and does not require professional training.  Limitless CEO and Founder Tom Sanocki saw the need for great VR content, but was watching VR directors and animators spend countless hours going back and forth between computer software and the VR environment where the content lives. Putting VR content creation inside the actual VR world eliminates the time-consuming back-and-forth between the computer and the VR environment, and also allows those without professional training to become VR animators on the spot.

According to Sanocki, “We are all animators at heart – we learned at an early age by playing with our toys.  We just need to remove the barrier formed by our software so we can all create stories using the inspiration that we already have inside of us.”

“I’ve seen the future of VR animation, and Limitless is getting it right,” said Bobby Beck, CEO/Founder Artella and CEO/Founder Animation Mentor.  “They are paving the way in VR animation for both professionals and the masses.”

The animation editing tools in the Limitless Creative VR Environment are strong enough for developers to use for prototyping, yet easy enough for anyone to animate.  Using a VR headset and hand controllers in the Limitless Creative VR Environment enables rapid prototyping for newcomers that would otherwise require weeks of intensive professional training. Plus, Limitless has a tutorial character within the VR environment to help walk anyone through the animation process.  Film directors, for example, can change the way a character moves, looks or acts instantly in real time.

Professional animator Jon Collins, who has previously worked at Pixar, ILM, Blue Sky, Blizzard, and ToyTalk, currently leads UX and animation as the Creative Director at Limitless.  “As a layout tool, this dramatically increases the rate at which sequences can be assembled and iterated on in CG. What would have normally taken me an entire day to do,  I can now accomplish in less than an hour,” said Collins.

“It has always frustrated me that although I can visualize motion and timing quickly and easily, the process of replicating these movements in CG with traditional animation software is time consuming and non-intuitive,” Collins added. “With the Limitless Creative VR Environment, both of these restrictions can be overcome in a matter of hours by anyone. By connecting a person’s innate ability to move their own body in beautifully rhythmic ways directly to VR characters in real time, the process of animation becomes much more intuitive and enjoyable.”

The Limitless animation tools can be used with any VR environment and character that has been imported into this part of the Limitless Creative VR Environment platform.  In October, the company will be opening the platform and animation tools to a small group of studios and partners to make sure the company is solving the right VR problems while keeping content creation easy.

Sanocki concluded, “Right now the biggest need in VR is good content and that is largely driven by characters. Forming a deep emotional connection with the characters we care about hits the core of mainstream entertainment. Our platform solves the tricky task of creating interactive characters in VR, and now makes it easy for anyone to animate those characters in real time.”

Train2Game News Huge VR Investment

​Another half a billion dollars was invested into virtual and augmented reality startups in the third quarter of this year, with a record $2.3 billion dollars invested in the last 12 months.
Q3 2016 saw the 9th straight quarter of investment trending upwards, as the money flowing into AR/VR is now being driven by major Sand Hill Road VCs and corporate investors. With check sizes averaging $9.3 million (or $16.4 million excluding seed deals) in the quarter, AR/VR investment is rapidly going mainstream. Details are in Digi-Capital’s new Augmented/Virtual Reality Report and Deals Database.

The mainline VC and corporate world accounted for 86% of the number of investors in AR/VR startups in the third quarter. The big name financial investors included Fidelity, Intel Capital, Softbank, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Sequoia, DCM, Qualcomm Ventures, Raine, CITIC and more. The roster of corporate investors joining the fun added Amazon, Alibaba and News Corp. So while specialist AR/VR VCs drove the early investment market, growing confidence and check sizes has led to the number of mainstream investors accelerating.

Excluding Magic Leap’s massive rounds in 2014 and at the start of this year, the overall growth trend for AR/VR investment has now been upwards for over 2 years. In the context of more general concerns about tech market investment, that continued confidence on the part of serious investors that virtual, augmented and mixed reality are the fourth wave of consumer technology change is even more impressive.

As investment has continued to grow, the balance of where the money is going has become broader. While Magic Leap’s $793.5 million round was astonishing, it took less than $4 of every $10 invested into the market. VR/AR solutions/services was the next largest category, with video following close behind including NextVR’s $80 million round from heavyweights like CITIC, Netease and Softbank. Moving beyond AR head mounted displays (“HMDs”), VR HMDs still took in a respectable level of investment despite the presence of major corporate competitors like Facebook, Samsung, Sony and HTC/Valve. AR/VR peripherals, games, advertising/marketing, applications, tech and distribution startups also raised substantial amounts.

As the AR/VR market goes through the well-trodden path of hype cycle, facing reality, liftoff and maturity, the smart money is looking to the long term. VR will be big. AR will be bigger (and take longer). While exact market timing is impossible to predict (as evidenced by the unanticipated success of Pokémon Go), folks who know how early stage investment markets work are betting increasingly heavily on AR/VR’s potential.

To help foster growing AR/VR investment, Digi-Capital is holding its private quarterly Reality Check forum for AR/VR CEOs, corporate divisional heads and VC General Partners to do deals and solve industry issues in October.

Train2Game News Oculus Rift available at GAME 

The highly-anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) system is now available at GAME.
With great offers, demos and expertise, GAME will be the best place on the high-street and online for gamers to get into VR. There will be no better deal on the high street thanks to GAME’s trade-in and finance packages and in addition GAME Reward customers will earn 2 per cent credit on every purchase, earning over £10 back on Oculus Rift.

Instore demos* with GAME experts can be booked online and will allow gamers to both sample immersive gaming, and receive advice on making sure their PC and home set-up will deliver the very best experience.

*Oculus Rift demo experiences are available at the following stores from the dates listed. Demos can be booked through Oculus Live:

·         GAME Manchester Trafford, intu Trafford Centre, M17 8DF                                   22nd Sept

·         GAME West Thurrock, Lakeside Shopping Centre, Essex, RM20 2ZQ       23rd Sept

·         GAME Metro Centre, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, NE11 9YG                       23rd Sept

·         GAME Bluewater, Kent, DA9 9SP                                                                 23rd Sept

·         GAME Glasgow (Union St), Glasgow, G1 3RB                                             23rd Sept

·         GAME Nottingham (Victoria), Victoria Centre, NG1 3QN                             24th Sept

·         GAME Stratford, Westfield, London, E15 2EN                                              24th Sept

·         GAME Watford, Harlequin Shopping Centre, WD17 2TH                             24th Sept

·         GAME Merry Hill, Merry Hill Centre, West Midlands, DY5 1SR                   25th Sept

·         GAME Cardiff, Capital Retail Park, CF11 8AZ                                              25th Sept

Check out www.game.co.uk for more details

Train2Game News Michael Bay working on VR

The Rogue InitiativeThe Rogue Initiative and Michael Bay have announced a partnership to develop original entertainment properties with a focus on virtual reality and interactive hardware.

The new collaboration will produce immersive, virtual adventures offering gritty, danger-close action coupled with Michael Bay’s signature style and storytelling that fans all over the world have come to expect from his blockbuster action films.

This is Bay’s first foray into interactive entertainment; he will direct and The Rogue Initiative will produce and develop original content in cinematic-style VR.

Pete Blumel, co-founder and CEO of The Rogue Initiative, said: “I’ve enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Mr. Bay and couldn’t be more excited to work with him and truly leverage his unique vision and incredible depth of experience to this amazing new medium. We’re all absolutely thrilled to be working with such a cinematic powerhouse in the field of action entertainment.”

Bay said: “I’ve known Pete for a long time, and he’s put together a great team. I’m excited about building new visual worlds for this innovative medium with them.”

Cathy Twigg, co-founder and Chief Production Officer of The Rogue Initiative, said: “We take a comprehensive approach in producing our IP for the entertainment landscape, specializing in film, television and interactive experiences with a focus on virtual reality. This enables The Rogue Initiative to align with our partners in expanding our IP to various other platforms and media. We’ll be bringing this approach to the properties we co-create with Mr. Bay as well.”

The Rogue Initiative officially launched earlier this year with several projects in development.

The company will seek further investment and strategic partnerships to develop its slate of upcoming cinematic, interactive VR, film and television projects for platforms and distribution channels, including Sony Playstation, Oculus, HTC Vive, Samsung GearVR, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, feature film, network and cable television.

Hrish Lotlikar, co-founder and CBDO of The Rogue Initiative, said: “We are producing entertainment properties for a global audience and continue to seek investors and partners internationally that would like to collaborate in developing and distributing our content.”

Michael Bay will join The Rogue Initiative as a strategic advisor, along with veteran film and television Producer Lynda Obst (whose credits include Interstellar, Contact, Sleepless in Seattle) as well as other recently added advisors, including Cliff Plumer (President, Jaunt Studios at Jaunt VR), Matthew Cohan (President, Bay Films), and Cody Simms (Executive Director, Disney/TechStars).

For more information about The Rogue Initiative and its collaboration with Michael Bay, please visit therogueinitiative.com.

Train2Game News VR World Congress in Bristol

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The UK’s largest VR event VR World Congress will be held in Bristol, UK, on 12th April 2016.

This year, the UK is set to stage its largest ever VR event as organisers Opposable VR announce the VR World Congress – http://vrworldcongress.com/.

Featuring two talk tracks and a diverse expo, the VR World Congress will host 600 leading developers, innovators, exhibitors, and speakers. Supported by headline sponsor AMD, attendees can expect to meet high profile experts in the industry alongside intriguing up-and-coming names for the future.

VR World Congress organiser Dan Page from Opposable VR said: “It’s great to finally announce our new conference. The overwhelming success of our South West VR conference (SWVR) last year inspired us to think bigger and better for 2016. We’re proud to be bringing some seriously awesome key names and brands in VR from around the globe to Bristol, the hub of VR development in the UK.”

There will be two talk tracks; a Main Track focusing on key players in the VR industry, and a Tech Track designed for developers and hardcore VR enthusiasts. Speakers already confirmed include James Valls from Rebellion, David Fernádez Huerta from ‘Land’s End’ and ‘Monument Valley’ developer ustwo, Paul Deane from the BBC, and AMD’s Roy Taylor, The Third Floor, and Lloyd Digital, with more to be announced soon – for the full list of speakers, visit the VR World Congress website – http://vrworldcongress.com/speakers/speakers/

The VR World Congress will have a dedicated expo space, with exhibitors including nDreams with ‘The Assembly’, Frontier Developments exhibiting ‘Elite: Dangerous’, Block Interval who will be showing the first 7 minutes of their forthcoming adventure game ‘Life of Lon’ on the Oculus Rift DK2, and StarShip who will be showcasing vTime; the VR sociable network that allows anyone, anywhere to socialise with family and friends in virtual reality. See the full VRWC expo line up here -> http://vrworldcongress.com/expo/exhibitors/

Tickets are on sale NOW (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/vr-world-congress-tickets-19277355088 ). The VR World Congress will take place on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 from 09:00 to 17:00 at the Bristol Marriott City Centre, UK.

Train2Game News BioGaming aids home physiotherapy

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BioGaming, the leading developer of virtual reality physiotherapy solutions, has taken computer aided patient recovery to the next level.

For the first time, exercise routines can be created by licensed physiotherapists for patient use at home, using ‘motion capture technology’ to ensure correct rehabilitation, and low cost hardware and mobile apps automatically to connect the physiotherapist with the progress of the patient.

Biogaming allows physiotherapists to create digital personalized exercise plans, which it then automatically converts into games tailored specifically for patients, who are given hardware and instructions to connect with the platform in the cloud. A patented motion detection algorithm powers a Microsoft Kinect 3D motion capture camera which can be connected to Microsoft Windows computers or paired with a provided Xbox One for use with a television. Rich reporting capabilities enable progress automatically digitally.

Says Dudi Klein, founder and CEO of BioGaming;

“We are turning therapy into a game to be won. Patients who use BioGaming tap into something extra within themselves to do better in the virtual world, while getting better in the real world, a win win for patient, provider and payer. We are taking proven physiotherapy routines, real-time biofeedback and personal encouragement of sessions in the hospital or clinic and bringing them home. We are closing the gaps in the current physiotherapy process to boost adherence, transform the therapy cost equation for providers, and empower Physiotherapists to deliver better patient outcomes.”

The innovation is designed to tackle the problem of low compliance with traditional physiotherapy approaches where boring routines often demotivate patients. It also helps to include physiotherapists in the fast moving world of digital and mobile innovation in healthcare.

In a world where telemedicine enables more cost-effective, convenient and connected healthcare, BioGaming is the equivalent for the rehabbing of orthopedic injuries.

Train2Game News Virtual Reality foresight

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A new report has been published by Transparency Market Research, titled  ” Virtual Reality in Gaming Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2013 – 2019 ” .

TMR, a market intelligence company based in the U.S., states that the global virtual reality in gaming market was estimated at US$466.6 million in 2012 and is anticipated to reachUS$5,839.9 million in 2019, expanding at a 39.2 % CAGR from 2013 to 2019. According to this report, the market for virtual reality in gaming is fuelled by numerous factors such as continuous advancements in gaming technologies, namely 3D effects, motion tracking, and user interactive graphics.

The increase in disposable income is also a key factor augmenting the market, as with rising disposable incomes, individuals are inclined towards new innovative reality games and entertainment solutions to entertain themselves. However, the soaring costs of these entertainment sources are amongst the major factors impeding the growth of the market. Nonetheless, cost-effective devices with gesture control and economical sensors for motion tracking are projected to be introduced in the market in the near future, which will stimulate the growth of this market.

On the basis of component, the virtual reality in gaming market is segmented into two components, namely software components and hardware components. Among these two components, in 2012, the software segment was the biggest segment, representing a revenue share of 53.5% in the overall market for virtual reality in gaming.This segment is expected to retain its dominance in the market throughout the forecast horizon owing to consistent advancements in virtual reality technology. The hardware segment is predicted to experience exponential growth in the forecast horizon owing to the utilization of virtual reality products, namely hand gloves, head mounted displays (HMDs), and glasses.

On the basis of type of gaming console from various manufacturers, the virtual reality in gaming market is segmented into Apple Mac, personal computers, Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Wii, and Sony PlayStation. Amongst these, Sony PlayStation dominated the global market for virtual reality gaming consoles owing to its powerful brand equity in the mobile phone industry, gaming industry, and other consumer electronics.

On the basis of geography, the market for virtual reality in gaming is segmented into North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Rest of the World (RoW). In 2012, North America dominated the global market, accounting for a revenue share of 37.0% owing to the existence of prominent companies such as Take Two Interactive and Electronic Arts Inc. After North America, Europe emerged as the second biggest market and held a revenue share of 31.9%. Nonetheless, Asia Pacific is predicted to exhibit enormous development in the market during the forecast period owing to rising numbers of online gamers along with presence of the topmost gaming manufacturers in this region.Sony Corporation, Electronic Arts Inc., Linden Lab Inc., and Nintendo Company Limited are the dominant companies in the virtual reality in gaming market.

Train2Game News Hands on with VR at VRTGO

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Samsung and CCP Games will be giving all VRTGO attendees the opportunity to get hands-on with the best that VR has to offer.

VRTGO, the annual conference and expo that explores the future of virtual reality (VR) for both entertainment and business applications, today reveals that Samsung will have full retail units of its impending Gear VR headset available for all attendees to try as the event kicks off on Thursday 12th November at the Newcastle Gateshead BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.

Samsung’s Gear VR headset is released in November, and VRTGO is the ideal opportunity to be one of the first in the country to try out the brand new VR technology that Samsung will be releasing to the wider public.

Jason Lovell, wearable’s senior product manager at Samsung Electronics UK (SEUK) commented, “The VRTGO event is very timely as we will shortly be releasing our first consumer Samsung Gear VR headset, so attendees will get a chance to try out the device for themselves and ask any development questions they may have.” He continued, “Enabling people to use the Gear VR headset in a free and open environment means that VRTGO attendees will be able to not only experience the product, but also engage with the development team behind it and understand many of the nuances that make it a stand out device.”

Samsung will also be joined by CCP Games, who will be showcasing EVE:Valkyrie and inviting attendees to experience a playable version of the hit 2015 trailer.

“At this years VRTGO we’re inviting players to join the Valkyrie and fight alongside the legendary Rán Kavik in our ‘Convoy’ single player mission on Oculus Rift Crescent Bay.” outlined Andrew Robinson, artist and narrative designer, CCP Games. “Built from the ground-up for virtual reality, it’s now possible to experience the visceral combat of EVE:Valkyrie in a completely new way, and VRTGO is the perfect place to showcase this.”

VRTGO will be hosted by respected technology journalist Will Freeman. The conference gives all attendees the opportunity to experience the newest developments in the world of VR, complete with keynotes and panel discussions.

A full agenda of the day’s events can be found at: http://vrtgo.co.uk/agenda/

Tickets for the event can be purchased from: http://vrtgo.co.uk/buy-tickets/

Train2Game News Merge VR Headset

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Walk with dinosaurs or fly into space all from the comfort of your own living room with the new Merge VR headset available to pre-order now, only at GAME.

Priced at only £49.99, the new portable headset is a great, affordable way for families to step inside a whole new world and experience the virtual reality phenomenon.

Compatible with both iOS and Android phones, the Merge VR headset allows customers to enjoy the extensive immersive content already on Google Play and in Apple’s App Store. Play games, explore an unknown world, or watch a concert in your own home just by downloading an app.

On 30th October, GAME customers can be among the first to take home the new Merge VR headset by pre-ordering online or in-store. From mid-October, customers will be able to get their hands on this innovative technology with demonstrations taking place in all GAME stores across the UK.

Charlotte Knight, UK Retail MD at GAME, comments: “Virtual Reality is the topic on everyone’s lips at the moment. With gamers eager to see what’s coming next, we’re incredibly excited to give our customers exclusive access to this new technology.

“At GAME we’re passionate about making the latest technology accessible for everyone. The Merge VR headset does exactly that, offering the Virtual Reality experience to gamers and families. For those thinking about Christmas gifting, the Merge VR headset is the perfect present for under £50.”

To make the new headset even more affordable, gamers can Trade-in their old software and hardware in exchange for cash or credit. Customers will also earn 2% back in Reward points on every purchase, which can go towards even more great games, tech and accessories from GAME.

To find out more about the Merge VR headset, head into your local GAME store or visit www.game.co.uk/MergeVR .