IRL Studios raises $8 million for the metaverse

Players can channel their inner LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard in a game developed by a Santa Monica-based business called IRL Studios by donning a pair of virtual reality headsets and holding a pair of controllers inside their home. This game takes place in the metaverse, where anything is possible.

Available at Meta’s App lab, Gym Class VR brings players together in the virtual world to play virtual basketball against other players in various locations across the world while still receiving the same kind of social interaction and physical exercise.

In an interview with Spectrum News, Paul Katsen, co-founder and chief product officer at IRL Studios, the company behind Gym Class, stated, “Our goal is to construct a digital sport and generate digital basketball champions.”

Making it a reality is now a step closer thanks to IRL Studios

The business recently raised more than $8 million in a seed round to continue developing Gym Class VR for the metaverse, which has amassed over 64 million views on TikTok from users who share their material on social media. The money was contributed by the angel investors and the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

According to Andrew Chen, Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, “We are sure that games, virtual worlds, and digital sports will be the future social networks. The emergence of digital sports is heralded by Gym Class. The proper team is behind it, and it has the traction needed to realize social VR’s full potential. We firmly trust in the mission and the team because they have already shown that Gym Class has a sizable audience and market.”

Gym Class was created in 2020 as a side project by a group of basketball-loving tech sector pals as a method to imitate the sense of camaraderie they encounter on the court.

The basketball court, according to Austin resident and Chicago native Katsen, is where he hangs out with friends, unwinds, and catches up. Despite the fact that social media is meant to bring people together, according to Katsen, many social products today are becoming less social. He and his team then focused on developing a game that would enable simultaneous human interaction in a virtual environment.

Once a player enters, the game features a number of modes. Users can play in an open court, engage in passing drills, or use the shootout mode. A one-on-one or three-versus-three game between the player and friends can be played on a court that is open to the public. Avatars can be made by the player and customized.

With virtual reality headgear and joystick controllers, players often have to emulate basketball moves, instead of sitting on a couch and controlling their virtual selves with their thumbs.


Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.