Snap quietly acquired a British VR and gaming software startup called PlayCanvas
- Snap has quietly bought PlayCanvas, whose technology powers casual games and virtual reality experiences on browsers.
- It isn't clear how much Snap paid for the UK-based startup, which has reportedly only raised around $540,000 since it was founded in 2011.
- The purchase suggests Snap could introduce casual gaming in a big way to the Snapchat app, and get into immersive virtual reality.
Snapchat's parent company Snap Inc. has acquired PlayCanvas, a British software startup which powers 3D gaming on mobile browsers and social media services.
PlayCanvas was founded in 2011, and has built an open-sourced gaming engine that powers casual games on Facebook and on browsers. Its technology also allows developers to build and run virtual reality experiences from the browser.
PlayCanvas' technology has been adopted by casual gaming giant King, as well as Disney and Nickelodeon. The PlayCanvas Engine is based on HTML5 and WebGL, two standards that are seen as natural successors to Adobe's now-defunct Flash.
According to its site, PlayCanvas' graphics engine is also used by vehicle manufacturer Polaris and global engineering group Trelleborg AB to show off 3D product renders.
UK financial filings show the transfer of PlayCanvas shares to Snap was confirmed in May 2017. Snap also filed to trademark the PlayCanvas name in January this year. It's unclear how much Snap paid.
A source with knowledge of the matter confirmed the deal.
Snap declined to comment.
PlayCanvas has only raised around $540,000 (£381,000) since its foundation, according to public reports. Investors included 500 Startups, DC Thomson, Techstars London.
Its CEO Will Eastcott is still listed as a director of PlayCanvas. CTO and cofounder David Evans is no longer a director, but still works at PlayCanvas, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Here's a demo browser application showing off PlayCanvas' capabilities:
It isn't clear what Snap plans to do with the company. It's possible the firm could introduce lightweight casual gaming to Snapchat, and potentially allow third-party developers to create games for the app. Chinese web giant Tencent took a stake in Snap in November so the two companies could work together on mobile gaming.
It isn't the first early stage European company snapped up by Snap. The firm acquired French mapping service Zenly in June last year as well as the Swiss team behind Strong.Codes, which helps block copycats from replicating code.
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