While Pokémon Go rakes in millions of dollars with its augmented reality action, the company responsible for the tech behind the game is raising money to help build the future of AR and VR gaming.
Unity Technologies has raised $181 million in a Series C funding round. The company, which makes the Unity game-development toolkit of the same name, will use the cash to expand the capabilities of its software when it comes to VR and AR applications. Investment firm DFJ Growth led the round that also had involvement from China Investment Corporation, FreeS Fund, Thrive Capital, and Max Levchin. Analysts from Digi-Capital, Goldman Sachs, and ABI Research predict that the combined AR and VR market could generate $80 billion to $120 billion in revenue by 2020. Unity is well positioned to take advantage of that as its tools are already behind many of the VR and AR games available for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and smartphones.
One of the major reasons Unity is a development engine of choice for so many studios is that it is flexible. One team can produce a game or software app a single time, and then they can export it to all kinds of devices with minimal extra work.
“Unity’s platform has revolutionized the game industry by allowing any size studio from indie to [blockbuster publisher] to create beautiful and compelling games and experiences and monetize them with their advertising and analytics services,” DFJ Growth partner Barry Schuler said in a canned statement. “Now, Unity is poised to accelerate the advance of AR and VR with its unique ‘write once/publish many’ engine which allows studios to easily support all hardware platforms without having to attempt to choose a winner.”
Unity is already behind 31 percent of the 1,000 highest-grossing games on mobile worldwide, according to the studio. It also works on 25 different platforms that include 2D and 3D gaming as well as VR and AR.
The company has also pointed out that Unity powers the aforementioned Pokémon Go. That game uses the camera on an Android and iOS smartphone to put the titular pocket monsters in the real world around you. This is very basic augmented reality, and it is only the start of what that technology is capable of. Unity, with its new funds, is hoping to capitalize on the rush into AR after the market responds to the popularity of the latest Pokémon craze.