Europe's Market Slowdown No Match For Virtual Reality Industry

There are some hurdles in the way for Europe’s VR industry, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping the continent from pushing ahead with impressive levels of growth for the industry.

Substantial investment from further afield, including the resources and funds received from Japanese mobile gaming studio, Gumi, is fueling the fire burning hard across Europe. Gumi gave its assistance to EUVR, the non-profit organisation championing the maturation of virtual reality in Europe. 

Fragmentation = Failure

Among the many great things that EUVR is doing for the European VR industry is its provision of a range of platforms and resources to try and bring together the industry’s fragmented ecosystem into a cohesive whole. Such disparate efforts across geographical regions and disciplines is helping no one; at such an early stage in the industry it’s important that companies put competition aside and work in collaboration to further adoption. 

The fragmentation being experienced by Europe’s VR industry is causing so much inefficiency and lost opportunities all round. Along with this instinct towards competition, many large corporations in particular are beset with internal fragmentation. Where country-based managers are only focused on their own territory and fail to see further afield, the lack of communication, cross-promotion, and collaboration hinders growth. 

The Work Of EUVR

The good news is that, partially thanks to the efforts of EUVR and other similar companies and organisations, those working in VR across Europe are starting to change their tune. Coming together to leverage each other’s resources is beginning to bear fruit, as the impact of current initiatives and projects start to show significant amplification worldwide. Unification of the community is key. 

One of the platforms EUVR has implemented is an extensive interactive database of companies working in the industry. The aim is to provide much needed visibility for companies working in this emergent sector. It also highlights the level of diversity of the industry in Europe. The database brings transparency to the VR landscape, facilitating that all-important collaboration, deal flow, and partnerships that will be instrumental in furthering the development of the European VR industry.

Alongside the work of EUVR, some VR companies themselves are pushing the envelope. Belgian VR and WebVR consulting and development agency, LucidWeb, is one of these. It is tracking all the companies working in VR in Europe in collaboration with The Venture Reality Fund, a Silicon Velley based venture firm. The companies have worked together to perform extensive research, gathering information from across the continent. One of the methods they’re using to do this is a public Trello thread for companies and ambassadors to contribute to themselves.

LucidWeb’s database has grown from 300 active companies in February 2017 to 487 in July, and still growing. The criteria that companies must fulfil in order to be included are that they must have received formal funding and have a commercial product on the market.

Who’s Winning?

One of the findings of LucidWeb’s research is that startups focusing on 3D tools, user input, and enterprise applications are growing the fastest. It seems that startups in these areas tend to have easier access to capital. Mature companies in these areas are reaching the point of going public, else being acquired by companies like Microsoft and Facebook.

If we want to talk about investment success, there are many examples. 

In 3D tools, UK-based Improbable recently raised $500 million in its Series B round. User input company, Ultrahaptics secured $23 million in their Series B. 

Unsurprisingly, however, it’s Gaming that’s proving itself to be the most competitive space in VR right now. Swedish company, Logtown Studios recently acquired €600,000 in funding for their very first VR title. $3.47 million was bagged by nDreams in July.

The USA and Far East may be the biggest sites for development in VR right now, but Europe is giving both a run for their money. With investment pouring in, and more new talent arriving on the scene on a weekly basis, we can be sure that Europe can certainly compete. Our cultural heritage, our creativity, and our wealth of talent give Europe the potential to become leaders in the VR industry, across commercial, public service, consumer, and B2B.