Virtual reality game studio Survios, creator of the VR shooter Raw Data, is disclosing that it has raised two rounds of funding totaling $50 million this year. One of the new investors is entertainment company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).
MGM Chairman and CEO Gary Barber has joined Survios’ board in the latest round. In a prior financing round earlier this year, Survios raised money from lead investor Lux Capital, with participation from Shasta Ventures, Danhua Capital, Shanda Holdings, Felicis Ventures, and Dentsu Ventures. The funding will be strategically valuable to Survios, as it will have a much larger war chest to survive longer than other VR startups who may have a tough time raising additional money in the current funding climate.
Los Angeles-based Survios will use the capital to continue growing its publishing and development platform, add third party titles to its slate, and expand distribution into international venues. James Iliff, cofounder and chief creative officer at Survios, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company will use the money to create a publishing program, where it can publish titles created by other developers.
“We want to build amazing VR content for the widest possible audience,” Iliff said. “We want to make the VR market succeed. It’s still early, and we want to make it happen.”
Survios may want to tap the intellectual property owned by MGM, Iliff said.
“MGM has incredible creative properties and access to a lot of intellectual property that could help us,” Iliff said.
As companies try to compete, the investment in VR games may go up and the cost of making the games will likely get more expensive. But Iliff said he still doesn’t think that VR games will become as expensive to make as Triple-A console games, which can costs tens of millions of dollars.
“I don’t think the market is there yet,” Iliff said. “But amazing, breathtaking premium experiences in VR can still be made with modest budgets. You can get a huge bang for your buck. $50 million sounds like a lot of money, but a Triple-A developer would spend that on one game. We want to make that money work in a lot of different ways.”
Iliff also said that the money could serve as “dry powder” in case the future funding environment gets tougher.
“We are thrilled to be in business with Survios, a true pioneer in the virtual reality space,” said Barber, in a statement. “Survios is the ideal partner for us as we continue to explore the most innovative ways to optimize our existing IP, create exciting new content, and expand into emerging platforms.”
Nathan Burba, cofounder and CEO of Survios, said in a statement, “I’m humbled to have Gary join our board and to bring on such a storied partner as MGM. This puts us in a position to achieve our goal of becoming the leading publisher and content creator in Virtual Reality.”
Survios launched Raw Data on Steam VR and the HTC Vive this summer. The company said that it was the first VR game to top the global Steam Charts and break the $1 million mark in one month.
New titles in development will feature the same visual and design elements as Raw Data. The company will also use the funding to expand its Raw Data universe, including support for cross-platform play.
“Survios delivers rich experiences by bringing the impossible into reality. Lux is proud to be partnered with this deeply technical and artistic team,” said Shahin Farshchi, Lux Capital Partner and Survios board member.
Survios was founded in 2013, and it has 50 employees. The company has raised $54.2 million to date. Iliff said the company is recruiting more of the “most brilliant minds” as well as those with pragmatic experience in making VR games.
“VR is in a very exciting time and also a very scary time,” Iliff said. “Everyone is in VR because they are passionate about it. We believe VR is the ultimate entertainment medium. It’s an amazing dream to have. But it’s also risky. There are failures along the way, and we will learn from those. It’s not a bright and shiny time for everyone in VR all the time. We want to build a healthy VR market.”
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