Bottom line: Seattle-base VR startup Vreal announced Wednesday that it is laying off its staff and closing up shop. The news comes even after the company had raised $15 million in venture capital.
Founded in 2015, Vreal promised to create a platform where VR streamers could invite viewers into their game world. Spectators with VR could enter as avatars and passively hang out with the player or even wander off on their own (sans actual gameplay).
TechCrunch noted, the company acquired an $11.7 million Series A in the first part of 2018 from investment firms including Axioma Ventures, Upfront Ventures, and Intel Capital.
Although the platform was in pre-alpha at the time it closed the Series A, Vreal went ahead and launched on Steam Early Access just months later in June 2018. However, the idea was ahead of its time, and VR capabilities are just not sufficient for the startup’s plans.
“Unfortunately, the VR market never developed as quickly as we all had hoped, and we were definitely ahead of our time,” the company announced on its now gutted website. “As a result, Vreal is shutting down operations and our wonderful team members are moving on to other opportunities.”
It said it would keep its Discord channel open for a while longer in case the community had any questions or wanted to wish the team farewell.
While it was a cool idea, it seems that the platform was probably doomed to fail from the outset. Even setting aside the hardware limitations, a service that required VR content creators to steam to an audience also watching in VR is pretty limiting. It was somewhat short-sighted to think that people would only want to view content in VR — something the company tried to correct far too late in the game.
Image credit: Steam Game Updates