In a joint announcement, Starbreeze and Acer, the two majority stakeholders in high-end VR headset project StarVR, have announced a new capitalisation plan, which will see Acer take a 66% majority stake in the venture and provide a cash injection of $5 million.
This would be a change from the established plan for Starbreeze Studios and Acer to invest an equal share of up to $25 million, and would allow Acer to have an entrenched foothold in High-FOV high resolution VR headsets, something that is considered to be the likely future of VR.
The Future Before the Present
The joint venture began in 2016 after Starbreeze unveiled the at the time highly impressive StarVR headset at E3 2015. Acer and Starbreeze agreed at the time a joint capitalisation plan which was to be shared equally through injections of capital on a set schedule. According to the press release that announced the new deal, $10 million has been injected into the company equally by Acer and Starbreeze. With the $5 million extra, Acer has 66% of the capital investment.
Acer currently have a foothold in the market with their Windows Mixed Reality Headset, that came out last week along with HP, Dell and Lenovo, with a Samsung model on its way in November. Taking majority control of StarVR would give Acer access to the next generation of tethered headsets that take advantage of wide FOV and higher resolution displays.
There is a market for this too. Pimax started a Kickstarter campaign for an “8K” VR headset (it’s a bit of a misnomer, Pimax uses 2 4k displays operating at 3840×2160) which has at time of writing with 9 days left raised over $2.25 million, very close to the final total for the Oculus Rift, and showing a public interest in high quality and high FOV VR.
Starbreeze will continue, assuming Acer do not do any further extra capital injections, to hold intellectual property rights related to StarVR, including InfinitEye, the headset itself, ePawn and the Starter Development Kit, while Acer hold patents related to the mechanical design, ergonomics and electrical engineering used in the headset. This also won’t change the joint research and design arrangements, with R&D and the reference design work for StarVR’s headset being undertaken by both Acer and Starbreeze for the foreseeable future.