Tokyo-based virtual reality game developer Thirdverse gets $8.5 million Series A

Thirdverse, the virtual reality game developer behind “Swords of Gargantua,” has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding. The round was led by JAFCO, with participation from Presence Capital, Sisu Ventures and Incubate Fund, and will be used for hiring, co-founder Masaru Ohnogi told TechCrunch.

Based in Tokyo, Thirdverse was started four years ago as Yomuneco, but relaunched as Thirdverse in June to align with its corporate mission of creating a “Third Place inside the Metaverse,” where “each person has choices in his or her own hands and can live whatever life he or she wants to.” The company is currently focused on multiplayer virtual reality games, but its ultimate goal is to combine virtual reality with blockchain technology to create “VR worlds” where people can create online communities.

The concept has taken on a new relevancy, as COVID-19-related stay-at-home orders prompted organizations to bring online gatherings, including conferences, concerts and even their offices.

Users have also spent more time playing online games during the pandemic, with titles that have a social element, like “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” proving especially popular.

“Our sales and active users started increasing in late March as people started spending more time at home,” said Ohnogi. “And this increased engagement has remained consistent, even as some communities have lifted stay-at-home orders.”

Most of Thirdverse’s current users are located in America, and Ohnogi said many of them use Oculus Quest headsets. During Facebook’s virtual reality conference last month (which itself was held virtually), the tech giant announced it would release its new Oculus Quest 2 in Japan this month. Ohnogi said this is a big opportunity for Thirdverse because many Japanese people will see the new headsets in retail stores. “As one of the earliest leading VR companies in Japan, we’ve already seen a huge number of traction. We are really excited about it.”

Thirdverse is currently preparing to release other virtual reality games, including “Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds,” a multi-player shooter game that will be available later this year for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive VR and Valve Index headsets.

In a statement, Sisu Ventures and Presence Capital founding partner Paul Bragiel said, “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.”

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