In the latest of huge Facebook purchases, the social media company have now purchased Oculus VR, the makers of Oculus Rift, for $2 billion.
You might not have heard of Oculus Rift, but it’s the latest in gaming technology to offer an immersive experience to gamers. Its makers, Oculus VR, are looking to put players right in the virtual shoes of the characters that they are playing in their games, so that no longer are you just moving analogue sticks and subtly pressing buttons; instead, you’re getting as close as you can to actually being within a video game. Considered as a small start-up with a healthy amount of interest and plenty of burgeoning support from both the gaming and technology industries, Oculus Rift was already set to go big on its own, but now, Facebook have bought Oculus VR for $2 billion and Oculus Rift is set to go stratospheric.
For the privilege of getting in on a huge gaming and technology promise, Facebook have paid $2 billion worth of cash and shares, with that ginormous figure being made up of $400 million in money and $1.6 billion worth of Facebook shares, which, as of the end of the day’s trading sessions, were selling for $64.10 a share. Too, Oculus VR could also be given an extra $300 million by the social media giant, depending on their performance.
But what does Facebook expect to get out of this deal? Are they planning on putting our Facebook newsfeeds directly in front of our eye sockets now, forever forced to glare at unflattering selfies of our friends and family until we take the Oculus Rift goggles off? Not so, according to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who says that Oculus Rift’s focus, first and foremost, is going to be games but “after games, [they are] going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences”, with Zuckerberg giving examples of “Enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home”. So those are certainly some big plans.
As for Oculus VR, they have this to say about the rather surprising sale “At first glance, it might not seem obvious why Oculus is partnering with Facebook, a company focused on connecting people, infesting in internet access for the world and pushing and open computing platform . But when you consider it more carefully, we’re culturally aligned with a focus on innovating and hiring the best and brightest; we believe communication drives new platforms; we want to contribute to a more open, connected world; and we both see virtual reality as the next step.” Some high praise indeed for their new bosses, but how is the industry reacting?
We’ll have some more nuanced critique of the sale later in the week but for now, early reactions to Oculus VR’s sale to Facebook seem to be quite harsh with Markuss “Notch” Persson (the indie developer and creator of Minecraft) tweeted the following, “We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.” with his opinion not being alone in a world of indie gaming sceptics who are wary of big business. These indie developers are many of the devs who had planned (or do currently still) to support and develop games for Oculus Rift so how Facebook and Oculus VR work to dispel these doubts and turn Oculus’ plans for virtual reality into a real dominant market force, will be incredibly interesting indeed.
We’ll keep you posted once we know more.
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