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Inside VR & AR (Apr 11th, 2018)

Niantic CEO John Hanke sees a huge opportunity in AR gaming. At GamesBeat on Monday, Hanke, who helped create the AR hit Pokémon Go said he is investing heavily in the AR cloud. “It feels really natural,” he said. “Gamers are willing to put up with some glitches and imperfections in new technologies, which makes gaming a great frontier to try new ideas.” The AR cloud is a geo-computing future where shared AR experiences are tied to specific locations. Niantic has continued to support Pokémon Go, hosting weekly events for gamers.  — POLYGON

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VR startup vTime has closed a Series A round. The company raised $7.6 million from investors including Merseyside Special Investment Fund and Deepbridge Capital. The app allows users to jump into VR and communicate in a dedicated space. Users customize an avatar and select a 3D environment to host their chat. Unlike other VR platforms, vTime is focusing on promoting discussions rather than creating shared social gaming experiences. Some have pointed out that Facebook has re-created some of vTime’s features, through Facebook Spaces. In response, vTime Managing Director Clemens Wangerin told TechCrunch, “Our horizon is set very differently to what Facebook is probably thinking about. I think there’s plenty of green space for us to follow our own path.” — TECHCRUNCH

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PlayStation 5 may arrive in 2020. The gaming device was anticipated by many this year, after rumors circulated online. Now, sources close to Kotaku say it could take longer before PlayStation 5 is released. The PlayStation 5 will likely have improved virtual reality features and be optimized for VR, as Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Andrew House has said the gaming platform is still in “VR 1.0.” — KOTAKU

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Ex-PlayStation and Activision directors have launched the Maze Theory VR studio. The studio will be run by Geoff Heath, Activision’s former European managing director, and Mark Hardy, PlayStation’s former European marketing director. The two have partnered with creative agency Output Group to create the studio, which hopes to “redefine the virtual reality experience”  for games, film and animation. "The games industry is continually evolving and virtual reality is a natural progression,” Hardy told Gamasutra. “With Maze Theory we want to drive innovation in the sector and produce best in class VR games that will help to drive the technology forward.” — GAMASUTRA

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Analyst warns that China is catching up to industry giants on augmented reality. Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst for KGI Securities, says that Chinese companies are quickly catching up to Apple in augmented reality. Kuo says that before ARKit, Apple had no heavyweight application for iOS. Now, other companies within the Chinese market are trying to catch up to Apple’s framework. For example, Kuo mentions that Tencent released a game called “Honour of Kings,” which has over 200 million players worldwide and will release an AR version of the game in May. — BI

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