GREE Will Support VR Startups With $12M Investment

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Some readers may be familiar with Japanese mobile gaming outfit GREE. Normally known for adding social and microtransaction functions to existing games or putting out their own somewhat me-too casual experiences, GREE will be taking a bit of a different turn, according to an announcement by Teppei Tsutsui, head of their VR capital arm. Tsutsui went public with word that GREE has laid $12 million on the table to invest in virtual reality gaming, with a heavy focus on mobile games. Particularly, they will focus on investing in mobile VR content developers. GREE's previous adventures in VR indicated something like this on the horizon, with the creation of a separate department for VR development and the announcement of their first VR game, Tomb of Golems, for the Samsung Gear VR.

GREE's announcement did not include any details on future plans for the VR space or announcements of future games and apps. Although the fund was only announced recently, some of it has already been used in the development of VR playground VRchat, a world-crafting social app that allows users to share their creations and use them as virtual hangout spaces. GREE's own first full VR game, Tomb of Golems, was also shown off at the recent Tokyo Game Show, but not much else in the VR realm was present, at least in GREE's corner. According to Tsutsui, GREE plans to leverage their prestige and expertise in mobile, as well as clout gained by working with big names like Google and Oculus, to give a bit of an advantage in visibility to their future in VR.

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Senior VP Naoki Aoyagi noted that GREE is an investor and a developer in equal shades. He indicated that this fund will focus heavily on investing in content creators with potential and attach GREE's name to their products, getting them more visibility and, of course, a cut of the profits, in most cases. GREE may use the funding to develop their own content through GREE VR Studio, but the announcement was decidedly focused on investment. He likened the coming VR boom to the previous rise to ubiquity of the mobile space, essentially saying that GREE intends to ride the new VR wave the same way they rode the mobile wave.