Out-of-home VR destination Sandbox VR today announced an additional $37 million funding round that the company is using to support its continued expansion. In addition to its dozen worldwide locations, Sandbox VR says it’s working to nearly doubling that.

The Series B funding was led by a16z, and includes participation by Alibaba and Craft. According to Crunchbase data, this puts their lifetime outside financing to around $120 million.

Like pretty much everyone in the out-of-home entertainment sector, Sandbox VR went through its own share of financial challenges over the past year due to COVID-19 closures. It both filed for, and reemerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy following debt restructure.

“We are excited to use the latest round of funding for content development, cutting edge technology and accelerated growth,” says Steve Zhao, CEO and founder of Sandbox VR. “With more stores on the way, we’ll be ramping up our internal studios as well as developing our SDK to open up publishing in the near future.”

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And it appears Sandbox VR is making a quick comeback. The company opened three locations in July—Austin, Las Vegas, and Shanghai—and is aiming to open ten more as it enters 2022. Currently, the company operates 12 locations across North America and Asia. Paramus (New Jersey), Toronto (Canada) and London (UK) locations are marked as “coming soon.”

The fresh funding round suggests that VR arcades may be seeing a renewal in investor confidence, although Sandbox VR is probably one of the best-positioned in the sector due to its relatively small physical footprint requirements, in-house content studio, and licensed IP such as its Star Trek: Discovery multiplayer missions.

Sandbox VR has survived The VOID, one of its biggest competitors (certainly the most flashy), which permanently closed all locations worldwide last year. Coincidentally, The VOID’s flagship space at the Grand Canal Shoppes in Las Vegas is now a Sandbox VR location.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
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