Facebook Buys Oculus Rift For $US2 Billion

Facebook Buys Oculus Rift For $US2 Billion

Facebook has just announced that it's buying Oculus Rift for $US2 billion. Seriously.

"Mobile is the platform of today, and now we're also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow," Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg says. "Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate."

Oculus are equally chuffed. "We are excited to work with Mark and the Facebook team to deliver the very best virtual reality platform in the world," Brendan Iribe, co-founder and CEO of Oculus VR says in a PR release. "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."

The deal is made up of around $US400 million in cash payouts, with the rest being made up of Facebook shares. It's not a done deal yet; it's expected to be finalised in Q2 2014.

UPDATE - Here's a full statement from Mark Zuckerberg

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.


Comments

    Huh? Eh?

      *edit*
      Minecraft for Oculus just got cancelled due to this deal.
      http://au.ign.com/articles/2014/03/25/notch-minecraft-on-oculus-canceled-facebook-creeps-me-out?abthid=533204a8afa837a34200005f

      You can read the full release here re the deal:
      http://www.oculusvr.com/blog/oculus-joins-facebook/
      and also the comments from existing Facebook developers, not many are happy about it.

      Well, they are extremely pissed would be closer to the truth. Makes for interesting reading.

      Last edited 26/03/14 9:41 am

        Am I the only one who can't see the comments? Did they delete/hide them...?

      What they bought was patents. Broad patents. Now they have parity in this sector as microsoft, apple, google amoung others all now have a large set of VR patents, They wont be left behind if VR/glass or whatever it morphs into and becomes mainstay (eg microsofts idea to have headset office monitors). Till the contract term come out in the wash its all crystal ball gazing.

        Until we see a lot more detail, it's too early to say this is just about acquiring IP.

        Will the retail Oculus now be somehow locked to Facebook or otherwise DRM-ified?

        Will it be hackable and open?

        Will Facebook allow anyone to develop for it, or only 'selected partners'?

        Will our use be monitored?

        Will it be infested with ads?

        Etc etc.

        I would like to see a clear statement from the Oculus guys about all of the above as a matter of urgency.

        The ONLY upside I can see is that FB might be able to use its muscle to get OR access to the best available screen technologies, which IIRC is the current biggest hurdle for the device. But that's cold comfort really.

        Last edited 26/03/14 12:35 pm

          Ummm.. until we see a lot more detail, it's too early to say this is more than just about acquiring IP.

          Also, a clear statement from the Oculus guys "as a matter of urgency"? Are you a key stakeholder who has contributed the majority of the funding for the Oculus VR tech or something?

          Gamer entitlement is thrown around a lot these days, but f*** me, your post stinks of it.

    Well, that just ruined Oculus.

      Yep, that was my first thought exactly.

      "How can we fit more ads onto the heads up display?"
      "How can we use what they are looking at for targetted adverts?"
      "How can we link what they are doing live into their facebook feed?"
      "How can we stream their friends facebook feeds into their goggles while they are playing?"

      *sigh* Shame, this tech looked to be coming along nicely.

        All the issues you brought up are related to application software.

        That's not what the Oculus Rift is about. It's about hardware. The only software that they would do is for drivers and a development environment.

        The closest that Facebook could influence the Oculus Rift would be to have the logo on the hardware. That's OK by me, as long as the hardware is awesome. And you know, with the resources that Facebook could bring to the project, the hardware can only be awesome.

        This is all a storm in a teacup, as far as I'm concerned.

      Yep.

        Heh, this was definitely my first sentiment. Still I think it is a good thing for VR probably. I have been excited but also fairly skeptical about VR, because I think that most of the popular games of today don't lend themselves to VR well, and the games that do (sitting in a vehicle games) are not the most popular. Also fatigue with wearing big headset for hours. But this FB thing has reminded me that there is much more to VR than games. anything that creates momentum for VR is a good thing for the tech. Also, with a potential profit to be made on selling the hardware, maybe there will still be plenty of ways to use Oculus without needing adverts to pay for it. :-)

          Devs are already starting to cancel Oculus development: http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/25/5547626/minecraft-oculus-vr-cancelled

            My Favourite quote of the year so far "Facebook creeps me out.".

            Could not have said it better myself.

            not devs, Just one notch and minecraft already has unofficial oculus support.

            also the game doesn't nearly take advantage of the best parts of it. other games which will be a lot more amazing with it have said that it doesn't affect them, EvE Valkyrie for one and Star Citizen as another these are the sorts of games where the rift will truely shine.

      Oculus is a classic 'PC' type innovation - a sweet piece of 'offline' hardware that is eminently hackable. And before it's even born, it's going to be bastardised into some kind of horrible mobile-integrated, privacy molesting piece of crap which will inevitably feature strong DRM and be as locked down as possible.

      Very sad news.

      This is why we can't have nice things.

      Holy crap! I think this is the highest upvoted comment I've ever seen on Kotaku.

    Is poking in VR really that important?

    FARMVILLE! Have YOU ever wanted to pluck weeds in real life? Look at a chicken from underneath? Or simply spy on your neighbours farm? Well now you can! FARMVILLE!

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...

      I KEEP UPVOTING BUT THE NUMBERS WONT RISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yeah, because the whole point of strapping on a pair of goggles and escaping to a virtual world is to have that virtual immersion completely broken by some idiot posting a selfie.

      And don't forget the ads, and suggested posts popping up all over the screen while your trying to just play a frickin' game.

        HI I SEE YOU LIKE THE OCCULUS! HAVE YOU TRIED 18+ DATING? YOU SHOULD 'LIKE' IT! AFTER THAT, YOU SHOULD 'LIKE' THIS SITE TOO! AND THIS! HAVE SOME RANDOM ADS! HERES SOME FRIENDS YOUVE NEVER MET!!!!!

        *ugh*

          AND REMEMBER THAT RANDOM GUY FROM HIGH SCHOOL WHO DIDN'T KNOW YOU OR EVEN GO TO SCHOOL IN THE DECADE YOU DID? NO? OK, WE'LL ASK AGAIN IN AN HOUR.

    there goes the virtual neighbourhood :(

    Last edited 26/03/14 8:53 am

    I wonder how much stake in his own company he had to give up to make that deal.

    What. They should also stop giving away Facebook shares as payment. If I was the Oculus guys I'd be selling them off the instant I got them and Facebook value goes down even further

    Last edited 26/03/14 8:56 am

      Yeahhh, shares for over half the value in a company with uncertain (and probably limited) future isn't the best idea.

      I don't know the structure of Occulus but if the founders are still holding even 10% each they just put $40 million cash in their pockets.
      The facebook shares are just a bonus with potential upside if they can really launch the VR revolution into the mainstream. Something that Occulus was always going to have trouble with.

    Carmack works for Facebook.

      God dammit. I hadn't thought of that. This depresses me.

      Possibly the most depressing part of this news...

      I wonder how he feels about it?

    SAY WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!

    Was pretty excited about the Rift, but a Facebook owned Rift, NO THANK YOU.

    Way to alienate your customers, just to make more money producing it for the masses.

    Like the saying goes, Money talks.

    Looks like it'll be only a PS 4 VR unit for me.

      To be fair, there's some other technologies they've bought which they haven't 'perverted' or changed. They just wanted to buy them out because they saw the potential in the tech making big bucks, outside the scope of what Facebook itself does.

      Time will tell how this pans out. I did like how the project felt more open-source and cool though. Now it's going to feel commercial. :(

        It's always been commercial - they were never going to give the things away for free :P

      Looks like it'll be only a PS 4 VR unit for me.
      Yeah! Stick it to the man by buying your VR unit from a huge multinational with a history of dubious DRM and one of the most locked down platforms in existence!

      Soooo to protest a product being acquired by a big corporation (Facebook), you're going to switch to the competition's product, developed by another big corporation (Sony)?

        I'm not really that upset that a big corporation took them over. I'm pissed off because it was Facebook.

    perhaps a type of Oculus augmented reality will beat google glass

      IMHO, this is a likely plan, trying to stay ahead of Google.

    Well on the one hand, they'll have a heap of money on their hands for development so who knows what they'll be able to come up with now.
    On the other hand, it's facebook...

      And with facebook behind them I'd imagine it'd be a lot easier to get the general public into VR. Might be a very beneficial push to VR in general.
      But still, it's facebook...

    Here's the statement from Zuckerberg

    "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."

    As much as everyone here is foreseeing the death of Oculus, there's always the chance that Facebook don't go full-retard and are simply trying to expand their portfolio, as any smart company should be doing.

    I'd much prefer to wait and see what changes come of this, instead of joining in on some pointless circlejerk based on the grounds of "because Facebook".

      The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community

      Not anymore.

        there's a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform.
        Also not anymore :p

      I'd much prefer to wait and see what changes come of this,

      By "changes", you mean devs pulling out of the Oculus programme?

      http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/25/5547626/minecraft-oculus-vr-cancelled

      I suspect this will be the first of many.

        Yeh, because when talking about devs in general, Notch surely sets the standard. /s

        Seriously, that's a very reactionary tweet from Notch, not based on much other reason than what I pointed out in my comment - "because Facebook". I will be on the lookout for any devs who pull out due to some rational reasons such as drastic changes Facebook makes to the company.

        Markus Persson

        We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.

          Read his blog post for more detailed reasoning than you'll find in 140 characters:
          http://notch.net/2014/03/virtual-reality-is-going-to-change-the-world/

            I have and I don't agree with the stance he's taken. Instead of wanting to see how Facebook handles the acquisition, whether or not they keep the current teams and employees in place at Oculus and if they maintain or improve/worsen support for indie devs, he's just predetermined how they'll go about it based on their previous actions.

            Again, he elaborates but it becomes clear at the end of the blog post that his reasons eventually fall down to "Because it's Facebook".

              Umm isn't predicting what someone / a company will do based off their previous actions the only way you should be predicting something?
              I think it's perfectly logical to say "based off this companies previous actions I do not trust them and therefore will not support them".

              Last edited 26/03/14 11:32 am

                Absolutely, but I'd much rather wait and see if they've learned anything or handle it differently as opposed to acting on predictions and suspicions, which is what Notch has done. Notch has the right to do what he's done, I just don't agree with it. Maybe it's because I have faith in some of the brilliant minds that are still part of the Oculus team.

                For one, I really want to see what Carmack says and whether or not he'll continue working. From what I can see so far, the Oculus team remains unchanged after the acquisition, so I still have faith in the future of Oculus. Carmack would have no qualms for leaving if his goals and ideals don't align with the new owners.

                Last edited 26/03/14 12:13 pm

                  Yeah true.
                  The optimist would say "give them a chance to change" the pessimist "no they had their chance I won't give them another". All depends on your point of view.
                  The fact that the team remains unchanged is a positive.
                  But I also can't help feel disquiet. I don't like a lot of things facebook has done. Heck they can't even get right the design of their site! The changes they have made to the their app are also terrible,
                  And I can seem them really pushing VR in a way that makes them money from their core business which is really ad revenue.
                  In the grand scheme of things though I am not a developer and don't have an Oculus Rift so I am happy to wait and see what happens from all of this. :)

      There is some truth in what you say. With the actual "Facebook" part of Facebook hemorrhaging money, they are probably looking to diversify and gather some revenue streams for when facebook silently dies like an unwanted relative in a nursing home...

      aw I made myself sad....

      Anyway... I imagine the income from patent ownership alone is probably worth $2B if only for the patent licensing ...

      "facebook"
      "don't go full-retard"

      I'm sorry, but those two phrases do not belong together. :P

    Hey Kotaku, April 1st isn't for another week!

    Initial reaction: That sucks.

    More thought out reaction: Facebook has no credibility, so it hurts a bit, but it shouldn't actually change the direction they're taking with the technology and it probably gives Oculus VR the best chance it's got to go mainstream - which would mean further improvements. What's good for the mainstream is good for gamers. Let's hope they give them the resources they need to get this product as good as it can be, and otherwise stay out of their business.

    I wonder how Carmack feeks about it. As long as he's still on board I have faith.

      What's good for the mainstream is good for gamers.

      Since when?

        Since always.. okay, maybe, "since often".

        Oculus only exists because mainstream mobile phone technology has allowed the screens to be produced at a reasonable cost. The same thing could be said for how the Wii's mainstream success brought back a renewed focus on motion controls, which in turn led to more accurate and cheaper accelerometers.

        Mainstream support means more money, more competition, more improvements. If the VR stays in the domain of hardcore gamers, it will improve only at a much slower rate than if it becomes widely adopted.

          It also kinda means beloved IPs getting poached and recycled, but not as lovingly-crafted remakes or sequels, but as wallet-raping mobile tap-and-wait 'games'.

          I agree with the general sentiment that having a larger section of society consider themselves 'gamers' (even if they aren't enthusiasts like those geeks of us who have always considered ourselves 'Gamers' - capital G) could be a good thing in terms of higher investment and involvement pushing innovation and cultural acceptance, but you only have to look at how that's worked out in the past to see the bastardry of successful mobile monetization tactics creeping into our core gaming experiences to see why people would be leery of welcoming this.

          Or, I don't know if you were around for the early days of the world wide web, but there was a definite difference between the indie/community spirit of knowledge-sharing of the early days compared to the corporate clamps that now pervade almost every aspect of everything you do online.

            What you're saying about the indie community and spirit of knowledge sharing could be very true. It's interesting how Valve freely helped Oculus' R&D in regards to the screen technology (to minimise the blur), and expected nothing in return. I don't know if they would have been so generous if Facebook were already involved at that stage (though Valve are pretty generous in general as a company). It definitely changes the dynamic.

            Perhaps I'm just trying to see the positive side, but I just don't know if a product like the Oculus could survive more than one or two product cycles at a reasonable cost if it didn't have mainstream appeal. I think the Oculus always had an uphill battle for gaining acceptance, it's a really niche product - even among hardcore gamers there was a fair amount of scepticism. Time will tell how much Facebook changes the direction that Oculus would have gone without them, but perhaps optimistically I'm expecting that at least initially the only change will be Oculus having more support to develop and market their product. In the long run I think this will be good for VR.

            Now, if John Carmack tweets "This is not the company I want to work for, I'm out!" then I'll start being worried for Oculus.

              I think the Rift would've been just fine, because just about every piece of reporting I've seen on it from previewers has been, "Holy shit you guys, when they actually release a consumer version of this and some games, the world isn't going to know what hit it!" It's seemed like a pretty much universally-accepted 'sure thing', and Facebook are pretty smart to get in on the ground floor with that huge buyout.

      Yes it will become mainstream. Facebook mainstream which means the majority of people will likely see it as a gimmick and a passing fad instead of a possible future, potentially harming alternatives like Sony and could set back VR pretty massively.

      Possibly.

      Mainstream killed gaming imo

        Is gaming dead? I had no idea! Here I am with more games than I can play - hardcore, deep, sophisticated games that don't appeal to a mainstream audience, stacking up in my pile of shame!

        The mainstream games don't stop the niche games from getting made. Candy Crush didn't kill Dark Souls. Minecraft didn't kill Dwarf Fortress.

        There's a real "hipster" undercurrent in a lot of the sentiment around Oculus's acquisition. There's a lot of good reasons to be concerned about Facebook buying Oculus, but VR going mainstream isn't one of them.

    Well FB clearly wont be using this for gaming, but having 'Virtual' meetings with other people in cyber space will change the world, imagine having 30 people who normally have a big office to go to, all working from home connected via oculus, saving money on fuel, electricity, clothes etc...

      Some people already did this in Second Life, didn't catch on tho.

        it will be a MUCH more immersive experience, check this video out and skip to 11:23,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mp6C0q4sCks hear what one of the greatest physicists in the world has to say, i'd recommend watching the whole thing if you have time :)

    I do hope that FaceBook does not pervert this.

    OR REQUIRE A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT!

    Wow, didnt see this coming
    As much as i hate facebook, having them backing the VR project will produce epic results in an amazing time frame

      I agree this is a great thing for Oculus Dev's and im sure it means more people will be gaming via VR in the future, why does everyone hate this? This isn't the only VR headset in development

        It's more an issue of trust than it is about anything else. There's no doubt that Facebook has the capability of pumping money into the VR project, but like all companies they do this with an expectation of getting money back in return. People just don't know (or want to know) how Facebook will go around achieving this when the product hits the shelves. It's a social media website, and hasn't got much of a track-record of making money outside of user data (allegedly anyway) and advertising.

        Last edited 26/03/14 6:04 pm

          I see your point about business's focusing only on profit but i think were seeing a change in this dynamic, look at EA changing how there games are made to make the public happy, Bioware changing Mass effect endings, M$ going back on there DRM policies etc... If FB does something the majority doesn't like, you simply just buy the competitors VR headset, Sony has one and M$ allegedly has one in the works too, eventually companies are starting to realize the consumer in the end holds all the power, their wallet.

    I tire of large companies snapping up so many of the good smaller tech companies. Instead of having a marketplace of many companies each operating moderately independently, we have a marketplace where some companies get successful (and others go broke), and then mammoth companies buy them.
    Basis -> Intel.
    Nest -> Google.
    Oculus -> Facebook.
    Burstly (TestFlight) -> Apple.

    WhatsApp, Instagram, etc not such a big deal, because they are really not doing anything particularly novel, but genuinely innovative companies are just getting devoured by corporate monstrosities.

    What happened to licensing technology rather than just buying the company outright.

    I was indifferent about this from the beginning; now I'm plain disinterested.

    Oh...that's...a sad start to the day. I was looking forward to it...but now...who knows what crap will be bundled in with it.

    Oh fuck this. It makes me want to cancel my pre-order of the new prototype.
    I signed on as an OR developer, not Facebook.
    I honestly can't support that company.

      Yep. I pre-ordered DK2 within hours (and have a DK1). I'm very close to cancelling and moving on/back to other things.

      I don't see the synergy to this. What good does it do VR's future (which Luckey Palmer and Oculus have been promoting) to have backing by a data-greedy social network? Yes, the cash will help them compete in the future market but in one (sell-out imo) deal, they've warped the future of VR and all it could have been.

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