The founders of 4J Studios Paddy Burns and Chris van der Kuyl have made a significant investment in the augmented reality company Blippar.
Chroma Ventures, the new investment fund lead by Burns and van der Kuyl, joined two other investors to make a $5 million investment in the company.
Blippar was established in London in 2011 and was an early player in the development of augmented reality software for smartphones. The company has produced AR advertising campaigns for big name brands like PepsiCo, Porsche and Cadbury that have tended to take the form of mini-games or short interactive video experiences.
A recent Coco Pops campaign, for example, encouraged consumers to play a simple 3D adventure game that involved spotting treasure around a Mayan-themed island and complete a Temple Run style challenge.
While part of Blippar’s business is producing bespoke AR campaigns for clients using its inhouse team, the company also provides a software platform which clients can use to develop their own independent products. Though Blippar’s business has mostly been directed towards advertising until now, this sizable investment from Chroma Ventures could spell a shift towards more videogame focused ventures.
Chris van der Kuyl of Chroma Ventures told the Scottish Games Network:
“The immersive nature of AR makes it one of the most important use cases for the gaming industry and Blippar is a true pioneer in this space. Its AR technology is by far the most advanced and innovative I’ve seen in years and there is huge potential for AR to power the ultimate gaming experience of the future. Combining that with exceptional leadership and a great team puts Blippar right at the forefront of AR just as it emerges as one of the key drivers of the next wave of the technology revolution. We look forward to being part of the Blippar journey.”
The Chroma investment also ties into Burns and Van der Kuyl’s other business – 4J Studios – which is best known for developing the console versions of Minecraft, including the recent Minecraft Star Wars expansion.
Minecraft has a history with AR: the game was used as a tech demo for Microsoft’s proprietary AR technology HoloLens and a Pokemon Go-like Minecraft AR game called Minecraft Earth was released for smartphones in 2019. Minecraft Earth will be discontinued in June this year however, with the pandemic being cited as the reason for its cancellation.
Blippar currently employs 30 staff across its offices in London and Bangalore.