Qualcomm Deepens Commitment To The Metaverse With $100 Million Snapdragon Metaverse Fund And Square Enix Partnership
At GDC 2022, Qualcomm came out guns blazing with two significant announcements, and both focused on the growth of content in the Extended Reality (XR) industry. Qualcomm has already made big splashes in the XR content space by announcing its Snapdragon Spaces platform and its Pathfinder Program, enabling XR app developers to access early and deeper hardware and technical resources. Qualcomm has already announced many different partnersspanning studios and operators that have joined the Snapdragon Spaces partners list. Still, the company is doubling down on Snapdragon Spaces with its latest announcements.
Qualcomm’s venture capital arm, Qualcomm Ventures, will be launching a $100 million Snapdragon Metaverse fund in conjunction with the XR business unit to fund Metaverse startups specifically focused on content and core technologies that may enable them. It seeks to catalyze content and core AI and XR technologies that can enable next-gen apps across gaming, health, entertainment, education and enterprise. This announcement marks the first time Qualcomm ventures has launched a fund with a business unit working closely with the XR team to fund the right companies in the space that will propel the industry forward. Our founder and Chief Analyst, Patrick Moorhead did a write-up on Qualcomm ventures strategy and 2021 accomplishments.
I asked Qualcomm’s Sachin Deshpande, Senior Director and Lead of the $100M Snapdragon Metaverse fund, about the company’s plans to deploy the $100 million in funding, and he said, “over the next few years,” which definitely made it sound like they are ready to start investing as soon as possible. Qualcomm Ventures plans to open applications to the fund this summer. Additionally, in my conversations with Qualcomm’s head of XR Hugo Swart and Sachin, it was clear there alignment capital deployed with companies of varying sizes and maturity to enable metaverse content from startups and bigger companies alike.
Qualcomm Ventures will not deploy all the capital as venture capital with some funds deployed through a grant program which I believe will likely be tied closely with the Snapdragon Spaces Pathfinder Program, which includes grants. Applications for the fund will officially open in June, so there is still plenty of time for startups to prepare for the opportunity to get funding and work with Qualcomm and its partners to accelerate XR and the Metaverse.
Square Enix Joins Snapdragon Spaces
In addition to the $100M Metaverse Fund announcement at GDC, Qualcomm also announced that Square Enix’s Advanced Technology Division would work on the Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Platform. One of the most well-known and highly regarded game studios will be working with Qualcomm on Snapdragon Spaces to help build XR gaming experiences. The extension of Square Enix’s work in the XR space will further help Qualcomm and its partners gain critical mass in the content space with Snapdragon Spaces. The two companies have announced a partnership on a ‘Snapdragon Spaces Project’ focusing on creating head-worn augmented and mixed reality gaming experiences. It is unlikely we will see any VR experiences out of this partnership, but that also makes sense considering that Snapdragon Spaces is more augmented reality (AR) focused already. The mobile XR will be predominantly AR and mixed reality experiences.
Qualcomm continues to invest in XR and the Metaverse and show the industry that it is not only a chip vendor but also an industry enabler through its software platforms, partnerships, and capital investments. Qualcomm’s partnership with Square Enix to build a project on Snapdragon Spaces further legitimizes the platform for AR and mixed reality (MR) development. It will hopefully draw more game studios to follow suit. Qualcomm already has the likes of XR industry veterans like Felix and Paul Studios, Resolution Games and Niantic, and a multitude of OEM and platform partners. The $100M Metaverse Fund also puts monetary backing behind Qualcomm’s efforts in the space, which have been both deep in terms of access and broad in terms of applications. Qualcomm wants to enable developers as much as possible by giving them all resources needed today, with the industry still being in its early stages. Many within the industry expect things to accelerate quickly once enough players come to market with AR and MR products. Everyone, including Qualcomm, wants to be ready for that day.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.