June 19, 2016

Quartz // The future of gaming is virtual reality, in real time, on Facebook

Seoul, Korea

If the future of Facebook is video, as a top company executive said recently, the gaming industry is already predicting that a lot of that video will show live-action professional gamers, using virtual reality.

Minkonet, a Seoul-based company, is rolling out what it says is the very first technology that will allow live-streaming of VR versions of popular video games to social media in the coming months.

“360º virtual reality is the next video gaming platform,” founder Peter Kim said recently in Seoul.

Minkonet, started with just 130 million Korean won ($110,000) in seed capital, attracted $1 million more from the Korean government’s tech incubator program and local accelerators, and is expected to close a multimillion-dollar funding round this summer.

The company’s Swing software, which will be introduced in beta format this August, will allow game developers to live-stream VR versions of their games to platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Swing360, due out in November, will let anyone upload their live game play to YouTube or Facebook.

About 150 million people will be watching “e-sports,” or professionals playing video games, online this year, Deloitte Global predicts, generating half a billion dollars in revenue globally. Some 15% of the videos on YouTube are related to gaming. Popular YouTubers likestampylonghead and the EvanTubeHD are earning in millions annuallythemselves by playing games online.

Adding live-streamed VR to the mix will allow viewers to become immersed in games, Kim said. It could enhance, for example, the experience for his 10-year-old son, who is a huge Minecraft fan. “To my surprise, he spends about 80% of his ‘Minecraft time’ on watching the Minecraft clips in YouTube,” he said.

You can see a snippet of what the game Mortal Blitz looks like in Swing-enabled VR by viewing the video below through the YouTube app in VR mode: