It’s game on as Dublin VR firm WarDucks raises €1.3m in seed funding round

12 Sep 2017

From left: Enterprise Ireland’s Niall McEvoy, WarDucks’ Nikki Lannen, Shard Capital’s Toby Raincock and Suir Valley Ventures’ Barry Downes. Image: Suir Valley Ventures

WarDucks is already making a big name for itself with its high-quality VR games.

Suir Valley Ventures has led a €1.3m seed investment round in WarDucks, a Dublin-based maker of virtual reality (VR) games, with additional funds coming from Enterprise Ireland and private investors.

The company has already made two games that have reached top rankings in the burgeoning VR games market, which is expected to be worth €29.1bn by 2022.

‘Virtual reality will increasingly become part of the fabric of our everyday lives, and gaming is pioneering this as we speak’

WarDucks, a studio based in Dublin, designs and develops high-quality games and experiences for gamers to play on VR devices.

Its flagship brand is Sneaky Bears, which, on the Samsung mobile Gear VR platform, reached No 24 in the top-selling Gear VR charts, and its sequel, Sneaky Bears Rollercoaster, reached a No 2 ranking.

WarDucks has now launched an expanded and completely new version of Sneaky Bears, a full-length VR game, on the PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift platforms. It is also due to launch on the HTC Vive platform in the coming weeks.

PlayStation has so far dominated the consumer console VR market in 2017, with an estimated 1.8m units sold to date.

Virtual possibilities are endless

“Virtual reality will increasingly become part of the fabric of our everyday lives, and gaming is pioneering this as we speak,” said WarDucks CEO Nikki Lannen.

“Our Sneaky Bears brand has already performed extremely well on mobile VR platforms; however, our move now to more sophisticated hardware – including PlayStation, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive – marks an important step for WarDucks. I am delighted that Suir Valley recognises our potential in the expanding virtual reality space and is supporting our next phase of growth through this investment, together with Enterprise Ireland and other private investors.”

Suir Valley Ventures’ Barry Downes said that VR is an area of enormous opportunity and potential.

“Nikki and her team have already had major success, launching a number of hit VR games on mobile, and we are thrilled to help the company bring its unique Sneaky Bears IP to console and PC platforms.”

He added: “We see Dublin-based WarDucks as a great example of the type of games studio that is going to be hugely successful in the VR industry, and are looking forward to working with Nikki and her team to support them, grow the company rapidly and launch unique products worldwide.”

Suir Valley Ventures is a recently established venture capital fund in Ireland. Prior to its establishment, Downes led TSSG, the Waterford IT R&D body, to global acclaim, which included the acquisition of FeedHenry by software giant Red Hat for €63.5m in 2014.

Suir Valley Ventures was launched in partnership with London investment firm Shard Capital Partners earlier this year.

As part of the investment in WarDucks, Shard Capital CEO Toby Raincock will join WarDucks’ board.

“WarDucks is an innovative Irish start-up making strong technical and commercial progress in the rapidly growing virtual reality space,” added Niall McEvoy, manager of the High Potential Start-up Unit at Enterprise Ireland’s IT department.

“The company is combining innovation with global ambition, and Enterprise Ireland looks forward to continuing to work with them as they expand and scale in international markets.”

Updated, 7.51am, 12 September 2017: This article was updated to correct an error in the headline, which read $1.3m instead of €1.3m.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years