On the road in several realities
The Magdeburg company 2tainment GmbH is making use of the endless possibilities of AR and VR technology
Even though Saxony-Anhalt isn’t (yet) thought to be hip, its newly found popularity with entrepreneurs is gradually becoming evident. For example, in the capital of the federal state, where entrepreneurs from the IT scene are rapidly coming together to create their very own community. The best proof of this is the company 2tainment GmbH. Founded just over two years in Frankfurt/Main, in 2016, it moved its head office to Magdeburg. It is here that the company which, among others, licenses, develops, optimises and markets games and virtual reality software, really wants to get off the ground. "The conditions in Saxony-Anhalt are absolutely ideal for us," explains Development Director Bartol Ruzic. In April, the young team will be presenting its wealth of experience, its ideas and, above all, its games and the possibilities offered by augmented reality and virtual reality at the CeBIT trade fair for IT in Hannover
The rooms in the lively, fashionable district around Hasselbachplatz square in the heart of Magdeburg still look new. The walls remain largely undecorated. However, the logo of 2tainment is everywhere to be seen: a computer screen with the sketch of a console, which stands for PC and console games. The company hasn’t had much time to make everything look cosy – it only moved in relatively recently. With a fresh sense of purpose, the team of nine is busily working away on its new areas of business, which are expanding all the time. “Actually, maybe we should consider changing our name to 3tainment,” jokes Bartol Ruzic. After all, the areas of software and hardware have long since been supplemented in the company with the areas of augmented and virtual reality (AR, VR). The logo and the name will stay the same, whereas the areas of business are likely to go on expanding. The company wants to hit the ground running in Magdeburg.
It was two years ago that Wolfgang Duhr and Stefan Weyl officially founded 2tainment in Frankfurt/Main. The managing directors combined their know-how and left a company which has already launched several internationally successful computer games onto the market, and took the plunge into independence. Saxony-Anhalt came into their focus for various reasons. The IBG fund, a venture capital fund which is administered by bmp Beteiligungsmanagement AG and supported with funding from the federal state and the European Union, have invested in the company. “Berlin isn’t far away, superb rental space is available, and the Otto-von-Guericke University is an important partner,” says Bartol Ruzic, explaining the relocation of the company’s head office. “This step was exactly right.”
The founders started out in an office at the Science Port and began working on their goal of doing more with AR and VR. The team has found the students and graduates at Otto-von-Guericke University to have excellent levels of skill and knowledge and has also found many points of reference for new projects. In addition to its courses in IT and computer sciences, the university also focuses on computer visualisation and is aware of its importance in the area of VR. Another advantage: the Fraunhofer Institute in Magdeburg has its own area of research into virtual engineering and offers synergies in the industrial sector. "Networking is very easy and purposive here," praises Ruzic.
The founding team is recruiting its new staff in Magdeburg and the surrounding area. By the end of the year, the team is set to number some 20 employees, with new hires in the areas of development, marketing and the back office being prioritised over the next few months, explains Bartol Ruzic. The goals of the company have already been defined – which also applies to its areas of business. The company’s key focus remains software and hardware, with the marketing of games and the development of hardware for gamers. On this basis, the company is making increasing use of VR to "provide customers with added value," as Ruzic puts it. Although the games don’t necessarily need it, they can be enhanced with VR technology. VR and AR technology also offers 2tainment an almost endless range of possible applications. The company wants to show and bring together all of the possibilities. Therefore, it also approaches the industry and other sectors. The development director believes the technology has an especially promising future in the area of healthcare. "I believe it could be used in surgery, for example. In operations, we could provide surgeons with instruments that could enable them to work with exceptional precision and receive additional, virtual information at the same time," explains Bartol Ruzic. Nurses and medical students could use this technology of the future for simulations during their training. At 2tainment, you quickly realise that a lot is happening on the market for AR and VR. "Plenty of approaches and methods have been tried, but a lot is still in its infancy and the technology can frequently be very expensive," explains Ruzic. Focusing on the new possibilities in a targeted way, linking them with other areas and putting them into practice are among the tasks to which the company is committed.
At the same time, 2tainment is continuing to expand its core areas of business, developing its own games and collaborating further with partners in their game developments. In addition to this, the company is also working on hardware for gamers and focusing on improving it. The further development of "devices for gamers" is a key goal. In this respect, the employees make gaming accessories such as controllers, charging stations and mice more user-friendly or rethink them. 2tainment also wants to launch its own VR glasses on the market. "In a design that we believe to be optimal," adds the development director. Of course, the 2tainment logo will also be on display – if things go well, in many countries, all over the world. And all from a company from Saxony-Anhalt – which is certainly a good thing.
Author: Manuela Bock