From The Wall Street Journal’s Cat Zakrzewski: With pricey headsets and time consuming setups, virtual reality hasn’t yet made it into many living rooms.
Game arcades, however, are making the nascent technology more accessible to people in China, much like they once did with earlier generations of videogames in the U.S. And now, some investors are betting the rise of virtual-reality arcades signals the potential for more out-of-home applications for the still-emerging technology.
Los Angeles-based Spaces Inc. is expected to announce on Friday that it raised $6.5 million led by Chinese theme-park operator Songcheng Performances Development Co. Ltd. In addition, Comcast Ventures and other venture capitalists participated in the round.
The funding round comes after Songcheng and Spaces formed a $30 million joint venture that will bring Spaces virtual-reality technology to the theme parks run by Songcheng.
Spaces co-founders Brad Herman and Shiraz Akmal are veterans of DreamWorks Animation. Mr. Herman said the project with Songcheng will be bigger than a virtual-reality arcade.
Mr. Akmal added that Songcheng has encouraged Spaces to integrate virtual reality from the ground up, not just adding it to existing attractions.
“They are also known for very elaborate, enormously successful stage shows, which is also a great base to start from,” Mr. Akmal said in an email.
The park attractions being made by the two companies are expected to debut in late 2018 or early 2019, though Mr. Akmal noted that timeline could change.
Mr. Akmal said Spaces focused first on the partnership with Songcheng in China because the country has “led the way” in helping consumers experience virtual reality in its early days. China also has a strong theme-park market, he said. The investment by Comcast, Mr. Akmal said, will help the company as it expands into the U.S., where it has ties to theme parks.
Spaces isn’t the only company trying to make virtual reality available to people outside their homes. The Void LLC, backed by China-based Shanda Group, has opened a theme park in Utah that features virtual reality.