Facebook buys Oculus VR

Oculus RiftIn the completely out of left-field news of the day, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg took to Facebook today to announce that Facebook will be acquiring Oculus VR for $2 billion.  The social network titan will acquire the VR upstart for $400 million in cash, and the remaining 1.6 billion in stock (23.1 million shares).  The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2014.

According to a joint press release from Oculus and Facebook, Facebook sees VR as the next major platform for not just gaming, but social interaction.  “Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” said Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”  

Oculus Co-founder and CEO Brendan Iribe echoed this sentiment, saying “We believe virtual reality will be heavily defined by social experiences that connect people in magical, new ways. It is a transformative and disruptive technology, that enables the world to experience the impossible, and it’s only just the beginning.”

Many in the gaming world are obviously worried by the news of the acquisition.  Zuckerberg hopes to quell those worries, saying “Immersive gaming will be the first (new experience), and Oculus already has big plans here that won’t be changing and we hope to accelerate. 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.”

FacebookZuckerberg continued saying that gaming would just be the first step.  He touted the potential of being able to consult with a doctor face to face, watch a Basketball game courtside or learn in a classroom all by just putting on your VR goggles.  “Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”

In a blog on Oculus’ website, Oculus leaders Palmer Lucky, John Carmack, and others wrote that though the company’s goals may not seem aligned, they are closer then most think.  “Facebook understands the potential for VR. Mark and his team share our vision for virtual reality’s potential to transform the way we learn, share, play, and communicate. Facebook is a company that believes that anything is possible with the right group of people, and we couldn’t agree more.”

Once again, Oculus stressed they are working on gaming first.  “Over the next 10 years, virtual reality will become ubiquitous, affordable, and transformative, and it begins with a truly next-generation gaming experience. This partnership ensures that the Oculus platform is coming, and that it’s going to change gaming forever.”

This reporter’s opinion: Well, did not expect to come home to this news today.  It’s certainly out of left field, but the more I read into it, it makes perfect sense.  Facebook sees VR as the future, and they are probably right.  How better to get a jump on that but by grabbing the group who is arguably the leader of VR?  However, I have to question how this will effect the companies gaming ambitions.  I fear that once the gaming portion comes out it will immediately moved on from.  The possibilities are nearly endless for VR, and it looks like Facebook realizes that and wants a lead.

by, Bobby Marquardt

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