Social media giant Facebook has announced its intention to buy virtual reality developers Oculus VR, creators of the largely crowdfunded Oculus Rift headset, in a surprise move. The company will pay $400m cash and a further $1.6bn in Facebook stock for the Irvine, CA based firm.
“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.” While this may raise concerns about endless notifications clogging up one’s field of vision, little will change for Oculus in the short term. Zuckerberg also stated that his company’s only current intentions were to help bring games to the hardware, although this might later be followed by making Oculus “a platform for many other experiences”.
Brendan Iribe, co-founder and CEO of Oculus VR, expressed happiness with the news. “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”, he said.
The Oculus Rift headset functions as a 3D display and analogue controller, allowing first person games like Mirror’s Edge to be played as if the player is really there. Some $2.4 million of the funds for the prototype, currently in limited distribution, were raised on crowdfunding website Kickstarter, in one of the service’s first breakout hits. Last week, Sony announced a similar device for PS4 codenamed Project Morpheus – the reveal marked the beginning of actual competition for the VR gaming crown.
UPDATE: Mojang founder and Minecraft founder Markus Persson (AKA Notch) has cancelled the Oculus Rift version of Minecraft, stating: “We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.”