Social network giant, Facebook, has just announced plans to purchase VR developer Oculus for $2 billion, split into $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares in Facebook itself.
Oculus has developed relationships with developers like CCP, whose EVE: Valkyrie dogfighting game they are co-publishing, and Valve, where they have been experimenting with different ways to provide a virtual reality experience. There was even murmurings, or maybe simply hopes, that Valve would purchase Oculus - though this certainly won't happen now.
While Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg might sound like strange partners for the developer, the platform is no stranger to games, as soul destroying and mind numbing as they may be. Beyond its potential for gaming, Zuckerberg sees the Oculus Rift as a way to bring people together, he explains in a statement. This brings it in line with Facebook’s goal to “make the world more open and connected.”
If you’re worried about the impact this purchase will have on the Oculus Rift’s development as a gaming device, Zuckerberg assures that he won’t be tampering with the developer’s big plans. “The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community, and there's a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform. We're going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games. Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook to achieve this.”
That’s just the beginning, though, Zuckerberg explains. “After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine 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.”
“These are just some of the potential uses,” he continues. “By working with developers and partners across the industry, together we can build many more. One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.”
Oculus founder Palmer Luckey says that it’s a partnership that makes sense. “When Facebook first approached us about partnering, I was skeptical. As I learned more about the company and its vision and spoke with Mark, the partnership not only made sense, but became the clear and obvious path to delivering virtual reality to everyone. Facebook was founded with the vision of making the world a more connected place. Virtual reality is a medium that allows us to share experiences with others in ways that were never before possible.”
Luckey believes that working with Facebook will speed up development of the Rift “In the end, I kept coming back to a question we always ask ourselves every day at Oculus: what’s best for the future of virtual reality? Partnering with Mark and the Facebook team is a unique and powerful opportunity. The partnership accelerates our vision, allows us to execute on some of our most creative ideas and take risks that were otherwise impossible. Most importantly, it means a better Oculus Rift with fewer compromises even faster than we anticipated.”
The deal has yet to be closed, but is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year.
So, that was a surprise. Despite becoming almost ubiquitous, Facebook has its fair share of detractors for it’s shifty stance on privacy. Traditionally, it’s not a bastion of quality gaming, either, relying on simplistic, Pavlovian titles that waste time and exploit relationships. Give us your thoughts - is this terrible news, or are you too busy salivating at the prospect of the Oculus Rift coming to market sooner?