In what seems like a very surprising move, Facebook has announced that they will be acquiring Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Based on the deal that Facebook revealed on its website, they will be paying a whopping $2 billion for the company which comprises of $400 in cash and 23.1 million share of Facebook stock (not quite as much as what they paid for WhatsApp, but still a lot of money nonetheless).
According to Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, the reason behind their acquisition is because they believe that the Oculus Rift technology will be able to bring about new experiences that they are hoping to accelerate. “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.”
Facebook will also be helping them grow by building up their product as well as developing partnerships to help support more games in the future. This is indeed a surprising move by Facebook since apart from Facebook games, the social networking giant has never really expressed much interest in gaming.
However Zuckerberg does state that Facebook will be expanding into new territory and he believes that the Oculus Rift VR headset can be thought of as a new communication platform, one that has more uses than just gaming.
If anything this also answers our question of how the Oculus Rift will compete against Sony’s Project Morpheus. While VR technology isn’t new, Oculus Rift managed to dominate the space in the past couple of years, so when Sony came along, it seemed like they could push Oculus Rift aside with their experience and resources.
The folks at Oculus Rift did not appear too worried and actually embraced Sony’s arrival, which did seem a little strange, but we guess because the deal between Oculus VR and Facebook was probably ongoing at that time, or perhaps close to being finalized, that they felt confident enough to compete against Sony by taking advantage of Facebook’s resources.
According to the Oculus team, “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.”