Brian Fargo's inXile Entertainment has landed an investment from gumi VR, a subsidiary of Japan's gumi Inc. The $4.5 million investment is a combined total covering part equity in inXile and funding for a brand-new VR project. Fargo intends to build on his VR success with Mage's Tale by creating an open-world survival title for all high-end VR headsets. As part of the equity deal, gumi CEO Hironao Kunimitsu also joins inXile Entertainment's board.
"Gumi shares my passion for creating deeper virtual reality games and I'm fortunate to have a partner to work with in this spectacular new medium. We've had incredible feedback from our first game, The Mage's Tale, and we want to continue to build on our experience and reputation. I've always been fascinated by the social dynamics of the open world survival genre and experiencing that in virtual reality will create powerful and terrifying moments. We'll also be bringing our storytelling and RPG experience to the table to help enrich the genre," said Brian Fargo, CEO, inXile Entertainment.
Added Kunimitsu: "Brian is a legend in the games industry, and inXile Entertainment has a track record for creating ground-breaking PC and console games that feel AAA in scope and size using their creativity, ingenuity, and ambition. Over the past year, they've brought in very talented and experienced members as they shift their strategy from single player to multiplayer online games as a service, and we look forward to seeing how they approach the space. Since breaking into VR, we believe they've already delivered the best VR RPG game to date with The Mage's Tale. We're honored to become a strategic investor and partner with inXile, and delighted for the opportunity to work together on the next VR title with such a masterfully skilled team."
Gumi announced its intent to expand into VR/AR last year. It's an interesting choice of funding for inXile, which has relied upon crowdfunding assistance of late, but in a phone interview with GamesIndustry.biz Fargo commented that crowdfunding just wouldn't be a viable source for VR at this stage.
"I don't think the market's big enough to materially raise money for a virtual reality project yet. That's my opinion. Somebody may come along and prove me wrong, but it doesn't feel like it's there yet," he said.
Fargo also made it clear that the investment from gumi does not cover the project in its entirety: "The combined monies cover a great portion of the development, though we always put some financing into the games ourselves also. If we look to do other formats, then the funding requirements could go up. In a way, this deal is like crowdfunding in that we try to cover as much of the cost as we can, knowing that we'll end up coming out of pocket for some of it ourselves too."
We'll soon be publishing the full conversation on Fargo's approach to VR and his thoughts on the industry as he prepares for retirement. Stay tuned. [Full interview now available here]