Photographer: Krizstian Bocsi/Bloomberg
Venture Capital

Gaming Startup Unity Seeks $1.5 Billion Valuation in Funding Round

The maker of software used to create video games sees a major new opportunity in virtual reality.

Unity Technologies is in talks to raise a round of investment that could value the company at $1.5 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The gaming software maker's fundraising, which is expected to close within weeks, would provide it with added resources at it looks to take advantage of the increased interest in virtual reality, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Unity declined to comment.

Unity makes tools that help people build video games. While the company is relatively unknown outside the gaming industry, its products are widely used by game makers, especially independent developers. About 4 million developers have registered for Unity accounts, and 30 percent of the top 1,000 grossing mobile games are made using Unity, according to the company.

Because virtual reality apps are built using the same tools, the wave of new VR devices presents Unity with a major opportunity. Facebook’s Oculus Rift began showing up in people’s homes this week. Sixteen of the initial 30 games available for the device when it launches were built with Unity. The technology is also popular for developers making games for competing virtual reality headsets made by HTC Corp. and Sony Corp., and will be the primary way to make apps for Microsoft Corp.’s augmented reality headset, HoloLens, which began shipping to developers on Wednesday.

Unity’s engine is even more dominant on the low-cost devices that allow people to strap their smartphones to their faces for a lower-tech version of VR. More than 90 percent of the games made for Gear VR, a smartphone-based headset that is a collaboration between Oculus and Samsung Electronics Co., have been built on Unity, according to Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey.

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