Unity Technologies is looking to build on its position as one of the leading game engines and virtual reality creation toolsets with a massive $181 million fundraising round.
The investment in the San Francisco-based company is way beyond anything Unity has received before. Originally founded in 2004, Unity’s total investment before this round was $25.5 million from investors including Sequoia Capital and WestSummit Capital. The current round is led by DFJ Growth, with DFJ’s Barry Schuler taking a seat on the board of directors.
Unity has nearly 1,000 employees globally and its tools can be used to make software for more than 25 different plaforms. In fact, more than 90 percent of the content on the Oculus-powered Gear VR headset is made with Unity. In addition, incredibly innovative titles like Eagle Flight, $50-per-ticket destination entertainment experiences like Ghostbusters: Dimension and the overnight success Pokemon Go are also made with Unity.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Unity’s potential as a company is its next generation VR creation tools. Known as “Carte Blanche“, the project could use VR to expand software creation beyond experienced programmers and artists. Using voice control and intuitive ideas people are familiar with from the real world, like handling a deck of cards, the project could erase mountains of complexity when it comes to creating dynamic virtual environments.
Both Unity and its chief competition, Unreal Engine from Epic Games, are working to bring more traditional controls into VR too. This would aid developers who are already building apps, allowing them to accomplish some tasks while wearing a headset. For the last few years, developing a VR experience usually meant putting the headset on and taking it off every time you wanted to examine a change. That limitation is just one example of the kinds of hoops developers had to jump through in order to make some of the software people are playing now in the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Gear VR. Unity was originally founded “with the vision to democratize game development.” With Carte Blanche, this investment and Unity’s other VR editing tools, the company seems poised to try and democratize reality creation.