Virtual reality game-streaming platform Vreal shuts down

Vreal, an ambitious game-streaming platform that aimed to let VR users explore the worlds that live-streamers were playing in, is shutting down and laying off its staff after raising $15 million in venture capital. The startup announced the shutdown on its website’s homepage.

The Seattle startup raised cash from investors including Axioma Ventures, Upfront Ventures and Intel Capital. Vreal raised an $11.7 million Series A in early 2018.

Vreal’s tech let game streamers share the entire 3D environment of the VR world they were inside, something which allowed users to walk around streamers as avatars or explore on their own as passive observers while listening to the live-streamer blast their way through zombies.

The startup, which was founded in 2015, spent VR’s most hyped years building out their live-streaming tech. By the time they closed their Series A early last year, their platform was still in the pre-alpha launch stage. The platform launched in Early Access on Steam a few months later in June.

“Unfortunately, the VR market never developed as quickly as we all had hoped, and we were definitely ahead of our time. As a result, Vreal is shutting down operations and our wonderful team members are moving on to other opportunities,” a blog post titled “Moving on to new realities…” on the company’s hollowed-out website now reads.

As I noted after the Series A announcement, the Vreal platform was “a product for a pretty tight niche: streamers with VR hardware broadcasting for viewers with VR hardware.” The company’s religious allegiance to VR hardware being the only way to enjoy and produce the content likely limited the platform’s reach too much. Two months ago, the company announced it was adding an experimental web browser view to its platform to expand its reach, but that move seems to have been too little, too late.