EVA.GG, a French company creating VR esports venues, has secured an investment of €5m (~£4.26m) to further scale operations in Europe and the United States.
The funding, which has been considered a seed round, will be used to help grow its team and operations. The investment follows a pre-seed round of €2m (~£1.7m) in 2019. Esports Insider spoke with Jean Mariotte, EVA.GG’s CEO and Co-Founder about VR esports, the challenges it faces and Eva’s overall plans for the future.
EVA was first founded as a game development company in 2019, with the team’s first game being a VR first-person shooter called After-H on Steam. However, Mariotte and the team thought that the overall experience wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. This is partially due to the limitations of VR systems used at home.
Mariotte added: “We weren’t satisfied by the experience and quickly realised that in order to bring our vision of VR esports to scale, we would have to make it even more immersive and remove all drawbacks such as motion sickness.”
The company then started working more on VR venues that support more immersive experiences, while still continuing to develop After-H, the game that is now played in EVA arenas.
This was the first time, according to Mariotte, that VR free roam was played in such a large space, almost 500 square metres. The players were equipped with a VR headset, backpack and 3D-printed weapons to use. Since then, the company has expanded and opened 14 arenas in France and Belgium.
Of course, the main idea is to scale. Mariotte said that there are currently 46 EVA arenas being installed in France, with the plan to install 100 of them in the country by 2025. The current investment was led by Trust Esport Ventures and BPI as well as two French tech entrepreneurs, Jean Baptiste Rudelle and Alexandre Yazdi.
However, France isn’t EVA’s only target. “We are now more focused than ever on the American market,” Mariotte said: “We signed our first franchise contract to open arenas in Texas this year and a first arena will open in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in September 2022. A total of 30 arenas are underway all over Texas and we are actively exploring other states.
“We aim to launch our esports tournaments in the US within the next months and are actively looking for new partners to grow our brand and expand our game to other states and countries.”
The idea of VR esports is not a new one. There have been initiatives to bring esports titles to virtual reality, but with little success as of now. Mariotte is aware of the state of VR, and recognises that the promise of VR has not been fulfilled as of right now.
According to him, there were ‘bumps in the way’ due to issues such as motion sickness, preventing a large number of people from playing VR games. Today, headsets are improved and there is movement on the market, a good thing for developers.
To conclude, Mariotte said that VR serves as a contrast to the sedentary lifestyle most gamers lead, and VR esports wants to bring a physical aspect to the gaming world. The players need to move – and need to do so swiftly. So, in some aspect the company also wants to promote a healthier gaming lifestyle through VR gaming.