Facebook acquires Oculus Rift developer for $2 billion

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Facebook has announced that the company has reached an agreement to acquire virtual reality headset developer Oculus VR for a total of $2 billion in cash and shares, with plans to complete the transaction by the second quarter of 2014.


Oculus VR has been making headlines recently with the release and development of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Currently available as a development kit with a full, final retail version of the hardware expected to hit the market in the coming months, the Oculus Rift has drawn major acclaim from game developers and gaming hobbyist for roughly two years thanks to new levels of immersion that the technology is able to provide.

Oculus VR has grown by leaps and bounds in the last year especially, even attracting videogame development veteran John Carmack away from id Software and encouraging dozens of developers to create custom VR versions of their games.

Facebook Acquires Oculus Rift Developer, But What Plans Are Afoot?

Facebook has more expansive ideas for the Oculus technology over and above gaming, though, with plans to apply the immersive capabilities of the Oculus Rift to other forms of entertainment as well as education and communication. Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said of the tech:

“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow. Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

“After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences,” Zuckerberg continued. “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.”

Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey also commented on the deal, writing:

“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 is run in an open way that’s aligned with Oculus’ culture. Over the last decade, Mark and Facebook have been champions of open software and hardware, pushing the envelope of innovation for the entire tech industry. […] This is a team that’s used to making bold bets on the future.”

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Oculus VR’s headquarters will remain in Irvine, California, and the team is “excited to work with Mark and the Facebook team to deliver the very best virtual reality platform in the world,” according to co-founder and CEO of Oculus VR, Brendan Iribe.

Pretenders to the Throne

Oculus VR isn’t the only high profile company currently chasing the virtual reality dream, because as Valve continues to research the technology and compile lists of best practices for experiences using VR headsets, Sony Computer Entertainment also recently entered the VR space with the announcement of ‘Project Morpheus,’ the codename for the company’s own VR solution.

Different to Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus is built specifically for use with the PlayStation 4, as well as the PlayStation 4 camera in conjunction with a DualShock 4 controller or PlayStation Move controllers.

Speaking to Develop, Oculus VR co-founder Nate Mitchell immediately praised the announcement of Project Morpheus, saying that Sony’s headset will continue to drive interest in virtual reality:

“We’re super excited to have more companies in this space,” said Mitchell. “More developers and more companies investing in virtual reality means more resources put towards games. I think the audience is going to get into VR faster, which means more people to sell to.”

How do you think the acquisition of Oculus VR by Facebook will affect the development of the Oculus Rift, and the pace at which the company had been working up until now?

Do you think that refocussing virtual reality on implementations other than games will see Oculus veer away from its original vision?

Source: WSJ

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