Tag: ccp

Iceland: VR Valley?

In a popular blogpost from earlier this year the investor, tweeter and entrepreneur Marc Andreessen discussed a politician’s pipe-dream: what it would take to create the next Silicon Valley.

In essence his argument is simple: Don’t even try. Trying to mimic an organically grown, entrepreneurial community with governmental stimuli won’t work.

But policymakers shouldn’t be trying to copy Silicon Valley. Instead, they should be figuring out what domain is (or could be) specific to their region — and then removing the regulatory hurdles for that particular domain. Because we don’t want 50 Silicon Valleys; we want 50 different variations of Silicon Valley, all unique from each other and all focusing on different domains.

Why am I quoting this almost year-old blogpost?

Two weeks ago, two Icelandic tech companies, CCP and Sólfar, announced funding rounds, $30 million and €2 million respectively. In both cases, Icelandic investors participated in the funding rounds. In addition to this, Eyrir Sprotar announced an investment in Mure VR, makers of Breakroom VR, a little under a year ago (December 30, to be exact). This amounts to 3 VC investments in Icelandic VR efforts in under 12 months.

This, by my accounts, is a lot. Especially for a small fledgling ecosystem like Iceland’s.

Foundations for a cluster?

For an industry cluster to become possible, and more importantly, globally competitive, many factors are needed. It might be hard, but it is definitely possible. We’ve already seen the rise of the Icelandic Seafood Industry which is now one of the most competitive and best run seafood industries in the world. Maybe the next cluster is the VR cluster?

Even though the recent VR investments are focused on one industry (i.e. Virtual Reality), the companies and their products are fairly diverse. CCP is pure gaming, launching two games in 2016 – Eve Valkyrie and Eve Gunjack. Sólfar just announced Everest, which by accounts seems more of an experience, or attraction. Mure VR is developing Breakroom – a VR product for the workplace. This means that we have 3 funded VR companies that are experimenting with three different aspects of the VR platform.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg playing Eve: Gunjack on the Samsung Gear VR

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg playing Eve: Gunjack on the Samsung Gear VR

We might have the beginning of a VR industry in Iceland, where Iceland is one of the places where talent interested in VR goes to work. Where VR companies build offices and where VR innovation happens.

Icelandic regulators should pay close attention. If these companies start gaining traction, officials should make sure the environment here is great for starting VR businesses. They could encourage the adoption of VR technologies, and fund research by Universities and academia to further innovation in the sector. How exactly regulators should enable a VR industry is not mine to say, but to quote Andreessen, the government should do what they do best: “create, or rather, relax laws.”

Risky business

While I’m ecstatic that entrepreneurs and innovators in Iceland have been able to secure the confidence and cash of investors, we must remember that VR is a very untested market. Several days ago, EA Games, one of the gaming industry’s giants, announced that the company would not invest heavily in VR gaming for the next several years. The reason: they don’t believe the market is there or will be there for the next 5 years.

This, of course, could be the arrogance of the incumbent. Incumbent smartphone manufacturers didn’t believe people wanted touchscreens until the iPhone came, and then it was to late for the incumbents.

Analysts don’t agree either. Kzero, a consultancy group in the virtual space, estimated that the consumer VR market will be $5.2 bn in 2018. Another consultancy, Digi-Capital, estimates the joint AR (augmented reality) and VR market to hit $150 bn by 2020 (and the VR market in 2018 supposedly will be a little over $15 bn according to their graphs). The third group, Grand View Research, estimates VR gaming to hit $9.55 bn by 2022. In short, a lot of unknowns.

The prospects of Iceland becoming a hub for VR increased dramatically last week, but it’s still far from certain. To get there, we need to help the current companies succeed, enable new ones, and create an environment where this industry can prosper.

Norðurskautið covers the Icelandic Startup and Tech scene. Follow us on Twitter or sign up for our mailing list to keep up to date. You can also join our Slack community – http://bit.ly/slack-is

CCP releases Gunjack – its first VR title

Today, CCP Games are releasing Gunjack, a VR arcade shooter for the Samsung Gear VR platform. This is announced just a week after the company announced a $30 million funding round to help the company boost its VR development efforts. The title will be available with the official release of Samsung Gear VR.

“We believe that virtual reality will be a defining element of gaming’s future. It may take some time to get widespread adoption, but we’re going to be there on day one,” said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP.

Gunjack is one of two VR titles in development and marks the first official step in moving CCP in the direction of VR.

Laser

Screenshot from Gunjack

In Gunjack, players take on the role of a gun turret operator on a mining vessel in the Outer Ring region of known space. As part of the ship’s defense team, it is up to the player to protect the rig from pirates, opportunists and anyone else looking to take what rightfully belongs to the company. Here’s a review of the game on Road to VR.

Update:
Mark Zuckerberg, founder & CEO of Facebook, recently posted a picture of him playing Gunjack on the Samsung Gear VR.

Today is a historic day for virtual reality. After years of development, we’re shipping the first consumer virtual…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, November 20, 2015

Norðurskautið covers the Icelandic Startup and Tech scene. Follow us on Twitter or sign up for our mailing list to keep up to date. You can also join our Slack community – http://bit.ly/slack-is

The Podcast #2 – A huge week for VR, the new Startup Tourism accelerator and launch of Takumi

In this episode of the podcast, Jökull and Kiddi discuss the influx of cash into VR development in Iceland, with last weeks CCP and Sólfar funding rounds. They also discuss the new accelerator Startup Tourism, and entrepreneurship in the tourism industry. The final topic was the launch of Jökull’s startup, Takumi.

Follow us on SoundCloud to stay up to date or subscribe on iTunes.

Norðurskautið covers the Icelandic Startup and Tech scene. Follow us on Twitter or sign up for our mailing list to keep up to date. You can also join our Slack community – http://bit.ly/slack-is

CCP raises $30 million to boost VR development efforts

CCP Games, makers of Eve, just announced a $30 million financing round to boost its Virtual Reality development efforts. The round was led by NEA Ventures, and private equity firm Novator Partners LLP participated in the round as well.

Harry Weller, partner at NEA, has joined CCP’s board of directors, and his colleague, Andrew Schoen will join CCP as Deputy Director.

The company has already announced two VR titles – EVE: Valkyrie, which will launch with the Oculus Rift in 2016, and Gunjack, made for the Samsung Gear VR platform.

Read more on Bloomberg.

Norðurskautið covers the Icelandic Startup and Tech scene. Follow us on Twitter or sign up for our mailing list to keep up to date, with Norðurskautið and it’s Slack Community – http://bit.ly/slack-is

Nortstack – Reporting and analysis of the Icelandic startup scene