After a few years of hype, a lot of the noise within the VR industry has died down, but with so many pushing social experiences as one of the platform’s most endearing user cases, there has still managed to be a feverish amount of activity to own the social networking space.
One such startup, Liverpool-based vTime, has been shooting to accomplish this for quite a while — it introduced its social app in late 2015.
The app allows groups of up to four users to jump into VR and talk in what is essentially a private chat room. Users can customize an avatar and select a 3D environment to host the chat inside. Unlike other platforms, vTime seems to be focusing entirely on promoting discussions rather than the shared social gaming experiences.
vTime has just closed a $7.6 million Series A round. This latest bout of funding was led by Deepbridge Capital with participation from MSIF.
“Our most important thing right now is to learn how people are using the app and how they are deriving genuine use and value from it, because I think that’s the key thing in terms of the really long-term viability of apps in the consumer space,” vTime Managing Director Clemens Wangerin told TechCrunch.
Nevertheless, the company has more than 40 full-time employees so it’s fair to say that the startup can’t afford to think about its central app as merely a trial run indefinitely. Like its competitors, vTime is in the fairly undesirable position of competing directly with Facebook in the social VR space, the experience of the starup’s app has been copied quite closely in the product Facebook Spaces, where groups of up to four users can meet up and chat.
“Our horizon is set very differently to what Facebook is probably thinking about,” said Wangerin. “I think there’s plenty of green space for us to follow our own path.”
The startup did not give me active user stats, but did note that it was nearing one million downloads.
Though the user base of social VR networks seems to be quite small for the time being, the involved companies have been quite active. Altspace VR, one of the more recognizable stateside VR social networks, sold to Microsoft after spending through its cash. VRChat experienced some major growth in late 2017 after it become virally popular with streamers on Twitch and YouTube. Against Gravity, which makes the popular social game Rec Room, raised $5 million from Sequoia Capital and First Round last year.
Though the small startups are currently fighting over what is likely just a few million monthly active users, investors are keeping an eye on the long-term opportunity, which they believe could by massive.
vTime’s multi-platform social experience boasts a home on quite a few different systems currently including Windows Mixed Reality, Google Daydream, Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Android and iPhone.