About an hour ago, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, Inc., announced on his personal Facebook account that his company acquired Oculus VR, developers of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset that has been discussed quite a bit within Second Life circles. As was announced on Facebook, Inc.’s newsroom blog, this is a $2 billion deal. The deal was also announced on Oculus VR’s blog. The announcement, in which Mr. Zuckerberg explains his rationale, reads in full:
I’m excited to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire Oculus VR, the leader in virtual reality technology.
Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. For the past few years, this has mostly meant building mobile apps that help you share with the people you care about. We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we’re in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.
This is where Oculus comes in. They build virtual reality technology, like the Oculus Rift headset. When you put it on, you enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment, like a game or a movie scene or a place far away. The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it’s different from anything they’ve ever experienced in their lives.
Oculus’s mission is to enable you to experience the impossible. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences.
Immersive gaming will be the first, 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.
But this is just the start. 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.
This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.
These are just some of the potential uses. 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.
Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together. I can’t wait to start working with the whole team at Oculus to bring this future to the world, and to unlock new worlds for all of us.
This move is, to say the least, interesting, given that Oculus VR is still developing its product and has not yet launched it into the market. However, this shows that there is actual business interest in virtual reality, especially given the fact that Oculus VR’s people have managed to get a fair number of game development companies interested in their headset.
Personally, I see Facebook is seeking to expand into new markets. People who have spent much time singing the praises of the Oculus Rift, especially as the end-all-be-all-golly-gee-oh-my-god-must-buy device for virtual reality and virtual worlds, might feel vindicated, as Oculus VR now has the official backing of a very powerful company. I’m terribly sorry to be a spoilsport, but this buyout doesn’t change Facebook’s appalling (and hypocritical) “real names only” stance and its refusal to understand issues like avatar identity – and avatar identity is integral to virtual reality, whether Mr. Zuckerberg likes it or not.
- Mark Zuckerberg announces Oculus VR’s acquisition by Facebook, Inc.
- Facebook to acquire Oculus – Facebook Newsroom
- Oculus Joins Facebook – Oculus VR official Blog