Yes, you read that right, Facebook has just acquired Oculus VR Inc., the company behind the Oculus Rift and it’s successful Kickstarter campaign for approximately $2 billion. $400 million of that is in cash, the rest in stock. Quite the shock for those of us out there wondering at Oculus’ direction.
Oculus became a Kickstarter hit early on, earning $2.4 million in funding, It also earned widespread industry support, most notably from John Carmack of Doom fame, who famously departed developer id Software to join the Oculus team. Since then, Oculus has gone on to earn over $91 million I funding. It has had several positive showings since then then, with the latest iteration of the product being shown off most recently at the Game Developers Conference. Oculus was really beginning to look like the next big thing.
Even so, the Facebook purchase came out of left field. It’s true that Google’s Glass has raised the general interest in wearable computing, but Oculus was largely aimed at interactive experiences like games. While Facebook has dabbled in gaming, offering flash games through their website, it’s general business didn’t seem like a likely paring for VR. Still, Zuckerberg has stated that he believes there are other potential usage cases for the Oculus beyond gaming.
How this will affect Oculus’ direction remains to be seen. Sony recently announced their own offering in the Virtual Reality field and Microsoft has been rumored to be working on an offering for some time. It seems that at the very least, Oculus’ focus might shift away from the heavily gaming focused direction they have been working on so far. Markus “Notch” Persson has already announced via Twitter that he cancelled development of MineCraft for Oculus as soon as he heard of the deal. Will other developers follow suit?