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Augmented Reality Startup Illumix Raises $8.6 Million From Lightspeed, Maveron, Michael Bay

Silicon Valley-based augmented reality (AR) startup Illumix has raised a $8.6 million seed round of funding to build a new generation of AR games for mobile devices. The round of funding was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Maveron, with Radar Partners, Unusual Ventures and Michael Bay’s 451 Media also participating.

Illumix is in the process of building 2 AR games, which are scheduled to be released in 2019. Both titles will take a different approach than many of the existing AR games, explained Illumix founder and CEO Kirin Sinha in an interview with Variety.

Sinha argued that a lot of the existing AR titles merely treated AR as a fancy feature, and not a technology with a purpose. “A lot of games are better as mobile games,” she said. “Not everything should be in AR.”

One example: Many of the current AR titles are tabletop games that rely on surfaces captured by a phone’s camera to visualize fairly traditional game play. Only, most people don’t have a big, empty table that they can run around in their homes. She also argued that many titles put an undue burden on players by requiring them to pre-map spaces, which isn’t how people use their phones.

Illumix isn’t releasing any details about its upcoming game titles yet, but Sinha said that one title will be original IP, while the other will rely on licensing. Working with existing stakeholders makes a lot of sense to establish new usage behavior, she argued. “The winners on a new platform tend to be something nostalgic.”

One example for this has been ‘Pokemon Go,’ which combined an existing franchise with geolocation technology to get people to explore the places around them. “‘Pokemon Go’ gave us permission to be in a different world,” said Sinha. That approach could be key to making AR games successful as well, she argued. “The value proposition is fantasy.”

But while ‘Pokemon Go” arguably appealed to millions of users who would not have considered themselves gamers, Illumix is looking to target a more traditional gaming audience. Said Sinha: “We are not going for the Candy Crush crowd.”

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