BigBox VR, the VR studio behind the critically-acclaimed multiplayer shooter Smashbox Arena (2016), today announced that it has secured $5 million in a seed funding round led by Shasta Ventures, with additional funding from GSR Ventures and Pioneer Square Labs Ventures.
This brings BigBox VR’s total funding to $6.45 million since its founding in 2016.
BigBox VR was co-founded by game industry entrepreneurs Chia Chin Lee and Gabe Brown, who led successful exits and launched top-grossing products at Valve, Disney, Sony, and Microsoft. With its latest funding round, Jacob Mullins, a partner at Shasta Ventures, joined the board of directors.
Best known for their hit VR multiplayer shooter Smashbox Arena, which currently boasts a 95% positive rating on Steam, BigBox VR says in a press statement they plan to “refine the VR multiplayer experience” with its upcoming battle royale shooter POPULATION: ONE; the company is couching the game as a budding eSport.
“We’re excited to team up with partners who believe in accelerating VR online games and esports,” said BigBox VR CEO and co-founder Chia Chin Lee. “It takes boldness to build products and communities that define emerging platforms, and we have the perfect team and investors to bring that vision to life.”
POPULATION: ONE is currently in closed beta, although we had a chance to go hands-on with the debut build at Gamescom this year. While it’s still early in development, it’s clear the team has hit upon some key fundamentals, including a robust locomotion scheme (dubbed ‘FreeMotion’) that lets you fly, climb, run, and quickly build structures to defend yourself in a map with 24 max players.
Maintaining healthy multiplayer is also notoriously difficult in VR currently, but the studio plans to combat this by launching with cross-play compatibility on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows VR headsets, and things like ongoing events and new content updates.
Fitting in the eSports angle: you’ll be able to spectate in a number of ways, be it growing to the size of Godzilla to watch the game play out in miniature, or following the top player at 1:1 size. The studio says players will be able to wave to each other, high five after a great kill, and use body language in a way that makes social interactions come to life. Post launch, players will contribute user generated content (UGC) available in a live marketplace.
BigBox VR says announcements surrounding competitive events and future partners will drop soon.