The Oculus Rift is easily one of the biggest names in gaming out there right now. Time Magazine ranked its developer kit number three on its top 10 gadget list for 2013, second only to Google's Chromecast and the newest iPads from Apple (News - Alert). A new development, however, suggests that the company will be well-capitalized indeed when it comes time to bring the device to market, as a new round of funding has wrapped up and in a big way.
Oculus VR has, at last report, raised fully $75 million from the Andreessen Horowitz venture capital fund, earmarked toward the creation of a consumer version of the product. That not only boosts Oculus VR's total market valuation, but also lends a note of credibility to the proceedings, making Oculus VR a real player in the wider industry. Andreessen Horowitz wasn't alone on this one either, with reports pegging Formation (News - Alert) | 8, Matrix Partners and Spark Capital as joining in the fray. Oculus also made a huge splash in initial development thanks to a profoundly successful Kickstarter fundraising effort that landed the company nearly 10 times what it hoped to make. It's also won a slew of awards from various tech shows where the product has exhibited.
Reports indicate that Oculus VR is also at work on a mobile version, which was part of the thing that attracted former id Software titan John Carmack to work with Oculus VR on its development strategies. It's that kind of innovation that's pulling in a lot of interest, and a lot of capital, as the earliest releases on the next generation of gaming consoles prove to be a little on the lackluster side. But the company that is said to mark Andreessen Horowitz's biggest investment in gaming so far isn't just in it for the gamers. A statement from Andreessen notes “We believe Oculus will not only alter the gaming landscape but will redefine fundamental human experiences in areas like film, education, architecture, and design. Oculus is at the tip of the iceberg of its potential, and we’re incredibly excited to help them change the world.”
Andreessen is likely right here. This is a concept that has been on the table since the mid-1990s or so, and everyone who remembers catching “The Lawnmower Man” in theaters knows what that's like. The idea of sitting in a zero-gravity chair with a perfect VR experience is hard to pass up for many, but until now, the execution has not been the greatest. Sure, there were head-mounted displays that could patch into a computer or the like, but the Oculus Rift is set to be one of the biggest changes in the field: a VR display that can do VR right, not the blocky, clunky “Dactyl Nightmare” way but the full-on “Skyrim” experience where about the only thing that's missing is the chill of the air and the smell of pine trees.
Expanding out to film and education, meanwhile, is not only possible but likely, and will bring further changes as well. There's quite a bit to look forward to with the Oculus VR, and if it works anywhere near as well as some expect, it should be a great time ahead.
Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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