There Will Be No Proto Awards In 2017, Return Planned In 2018

The organizers of VR’s biggest awards ceremony, The Proto Awards, say they won’t be hosting an event in 2017.

In 2014, 2015 and 2016 The Proto Awards were held to recognize some of the groundbreaking efforts pushing forward the emerging medium of VR content. The event is organized by New Realities Inc, an outgrowth of The Virtual Reality Foundation which is is composed of many of the same people behind the Virtual Reality Los Angeles conference and startup Mindshow.

They aim to bring the awards back in 2018, skipping the 2017 season “in order to assess the changing landscape of immersive technology and entertainment,” according to a prepared statement. The updated ceremony is planned to be a showcase looking at both virtual and augmented reality.

The move to 2018 by the Proto Awards comes when the emerging mixed reality industry is in a transitional period. Apple’s eye-catching ARKit is on the verge of release alongside a series of Microsoft-backed VR headsets. Facebook’s Oculus dramatically dropped Rift’s price and Valve is building a second generation of the innovative tracking technology deployed by HTC that could alter the VR landscape. New efforts are likely to be revealed heading into January’s CES 2018 that could further improve VR with wireless setups, lighter weight headsets, less expensive hardware and more capable systems overall.

Meanwhile, some software startups grapple with the “gap of disappointment” predicted by Unity CEO John Riccitiello wherein VR headset sales lag the dart throw predictions made by analysis groups. With giants of the technology industry moving in fast and media coverage mixed, investors seem to be making tough choices about which startups get the funding to help them survive until a larger market appears with companies like AltspaceVR, Envelop, CastAR and Vrideo not making the cut. And amid all this, dozens of new virtual worlds arrive each week for people to explore in VR headsets.

So with the organizers of The Proto Awards involved with a lot of other things that demand their time and the industry in transition, vetting nominees and executing an awards ceremony represented a major logistical challenge for the group that made more sense to hold until 2018.

“We started the Protos to shine a light on a handful of passion projects. Most of them were working in their off time between day jobs,” said Adam Levin, Executive Producer of The Protos, in a prepared statement. “We’ve seen those early winners find huge success in the years since, and we look forward to finding the next class of pioneers in 2018, as well as recognizing the continued innovation and artistry of our previous winners.”

The awards have been held in venues like Roosevelt Hotel’s Blossom Ballroom, where the first Academy Awards took place, and even being nominated for an award helped shine a light on innovative startups, creators and projects including Tilt Brush, Survios, Kite & Lightning, Cloudhead Games, Felix & Paul Studios, Schell Games, WEVR, Steel Crate Games, Google, AltSpaceVR, I-Illusions, Logan Olson, E McNeill, Northway Games, Cirque du Soleil, and others. The absence of the awards in 2017 is a loss for notable projects like Superhot, Blocks and Lone Echo which are pushing the medium forward.

“To do the show right and to do right by the community at this scale, we need to reboot,” organizer Jonnie Ross wrote to us in an email. “Even if we did a virtual version, it’s a massive project to ensure that submissions are processed properly. The integrity and impact of the show for developers is what we want to protect.”

You can find past winners at www.protoawards.com.

Update: Quotations added from Adam Levin and Jonnie Ross, and clarification added about the organization behind the awards.

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