Fans of eSports will soon be able to add virtual reality to their experience while watching some of the hottest titles like League of Legends. New startup Sliver.tv, fresh from a successful $6.2 million seed round, launched an open beta of its 2D-to-VR platform.
Accordingly, the company has a set of patents covering the use of multiple “virtual camera arrays” that are embedded into games played on PCs – including video games that don’t support VR – that then record gameplay in the immersive viewing technology. Other approved patents include those for the SDK and game connector modules that will make non-VR games VR-compatible on playback, as well as player and game metadata for VR environments.
“We’re focused on the intersection between today’s 250 million eSports viewers and the emerging VR market,” said Mitch Liu, founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. “We recognized early on that the existing eSports viewing approach from the player’s point-of-view is not necessarily the best perspective for the audience. Our vision is to transform the eSports spectator experience forever.”
The startup’s open beta will initially offer on-demand highlights of three of the most popular eSports games – League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Viewers can download either an iOS or Android app and view VR highlights on Panorama-360 enabled mobile phones and Google Cardboard devices.
At least 11 venture capital firms participated in the seed round, including Greycroft Partners, DCM Ventures, and two Japanese mobile gaming companies, GREE and Colopl.
With eSports rapidly gaining ground on other genres of online video entertainment – NBC’s Olympics live stream bandwidth was routinely outstripped by Twitch traffic during prime time, according to Sandvine – Sliver.tv’s technology could be a compelling addition to the video game viewing experience. It could also boost VR viewing in general, which hasn’t yet caught on widely due to factors like a dearth of available content and the cost of viewing devices.
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