Andreessen Horowitz invests millions in a VR game – here is why
With Andreessen Horowitz and Y Combinator, two of the best-known tech venture capital firms are investing in VR. Andreessen Horowitz’s reasons for the investment include the high growth of the VR gaming market compared to traditional games.
The VR basketball game “Gym Class” started as a simple feasibility demo in the Sidequest store. Meanwhile, it has become a successful insider tip: The basketball game has recorded around one million downloads in the Oculus App Lab.
Gym Class wants to capture the real basketball game as realistically as possible from a first-person perspective. You can play it alone or together with friends and strangers. It is optimized purely for VR.
Top ratings for VR Basketball
The free version has been well received: One million downloads so far have resulted in around 14,500 reviews with an almost perfect five-star rating. This fact and successful TikTok videos about the game should have been a weighty argument in negotiations with investors.
Gym Class received a total of eight million US dollars from Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, and other investors. This is a considerable sum for a niche VR game that has not made a big splash so far – and a sign that the development team probably has bigger plans for the game.
According to Gym Class head of product Paul Katsen, the team sees its app as more of a social gathering place than a pure video game. The goal, he said, is to create a community around the sport and basketball culture. The team wants to continue to focus on basketball.
Investment in the basketball metaverse – or acquisition speculation?
This social promise, combined with a clearly defined target group, is also likely to have attracted investors – as is the prospect of the studio behind Gym Class possibly being bought out by Big Tech.
The game mechanics of Gym Class are fully focused on VR: On the one hand, this currently limits the range, which is bad in terms of marketability. On the other hand, the team has a high level of VR expertise, which should be interesting for Meta and Co.
Meta alone has bought five very successful VR studios in the last two years and is currently trying to acquire another.
Andreessen Horowitz investor Jack Soslow took to Twitter to praise Gym Class’s mature and precise motion gameplay and the already intact playful social component that naturally unfolds around the core gameplay.
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Successful VR apps, he said, rely on a sense of presence in virtual reality and motion control – two things only VR offers. In addition, VR is one of the fastest-growing gaming markets, according to Soslow.
Tops down – VR is one of the fastest growing gaming markets, yet most don’t realize it has comparable sales volume to other consoles.
Even in 2022, while other consoles are cutting projections, Oculus app downloads are up >1.5x YoY according to Apptopia. pic.twitter.com/yYbPw0SUWR
– Jack Soslow (@JackSoslow) August 2, 2022
In any case: for the VR industry, any additional VR investor besides Meta is a win, even more so when they are big-name ones like Andreessen Horowitz and Y Combinator.
Andreessen Horowitz, in particular, has been investing in VR for years. In 2019, company founder Marc Andreessen, one of Silicon Valley’s most influential investors, predicted that VR will become “a thousand times bigger” than AR. Most recently, Andreessen Horowitz invested in arcade chain Sandbox VR in 2021. Andreessen has sat on the board of Facebook/Meta since 2008.
Gym Class is available for free in the Oculus App Lab. The launch in the official Meta Store is planned for fall.