Update: Min-Liang Tan, the CEO of high-end gaming tech giant Razer, has responded to Notch’s tweet: “Perhaps we can help out. Will be in touch.” This year’s CES saw Razer reveal multiple devices that hint toward a possible entry by the company into the realm of virtual reality.
In a shocking announcement, Facebook has revealed that they will acquire Oculus VR – the company behind the ambition “Oculus Rift” virtual-reality headset – at the price of $400 million in cash, and 23.1 million shares of Facebook stock (valued at approximately $1.6 billion). The deal is set to close in the second quarter of this year.
The leadership at Oculus has posted a statement on the company website: “At first glance, it might not seem obvious why Oculus is partnering with Facebook, a company focused on connecting people, investing in internet access for the world and pushing an open computing platform. But when you consider it more carefully, we’re culturally aligned with a focus on innovating and hiring the best and brightest; we believe communication drives new platforms; we want to contribute to a more open, connected world; and we both see virtual reality as the next step.”
“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” says Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”
“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 partnership is one of the most important moments for virtual reality: it gives us the best shot at truly changing the world,” the Oculus team says. “It opens doors to new opportunities and partnerships, reduces risk on the manufacturing and work capital side, allows us to publish more made-for-VR content, and lets us focus on what we do best: solving hard engineering challenges and delivering the future of VR.”
The deal has already claimed one casualty, as Notch, the mind behind Minecraft, took to Twitter and his blog to announce that he will no longer be developing a version of the game for Oculus Rift. The Minecraft phenomenon sprang from very humble origins – though some claim Notch takes more credit than he deserves – and the creator doesn’t feel this new deal is good news for indie development.
“Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers.”
Oculus Rift has garnered massive attention over the past year, as gamers have wondered what it would be like to experience games like Mirror’s Edge, Portal, Skyrim and more using the unique VR headset. Time will tell if this deal helps bring virtual reality one step closer to home, or reduces it to just another Candy Crush Saga accessory.
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