Five years ago, in its pursuit of ubiquity (like all Big Tech firms), Facebook acquired VR headset-manufacturer Oculus, known for its Oculus Rift VR headset. The company had raised millions from intrigued investors in the span of a few years, and Facebook saw they were worth buying for $2.3 billion at the time.
Today, Facebook is building on this acquisition.
Facebook acquires Beat Games
This week, Facebook announced its acquisition of the game studio behind the ever-so-popular VR game Beat Saber, which is a rhythm-based game that employs a twist on the genre. Facebook has not revealed the value of the deal.
The social media giant has yet to bring the Oculus to mainstream success 5 years after it acquired it, so what better way to attempt that than to buy out the team that’s had what could resemble a success in a struggling field.
“Beat Games’ accomplishments are already impressive, but Facebook and the Beat Games team know that there is so much more that can be done across VR, games, and music,” said Mike Verdu, Oculus director of content, in a blog post.
Surprisingly, Facebook will not be pulling the Beat Saber game from other VR headsets, allowing it to be played on devices other than the Rift. They likely realized that a passionate, tightly-knit community revolving around niche game like Beat Saber would not stand for such an action. They could entirely boycott the game and bring the company bad press, as we’ve seen in recent controversial episodes between gamers and maligned publisher EA games over the use of micro transactions, overpriced expansion content, and other controversial services and products.
Overall, this acquisition will serve to bolster Facebook’s overall VR offerings, and not just the applications in a gaming setting.
“We’re exploring many ways to accelerate VR,” Verdu wrote. “This is just the beginning.”
Earlier this year, Facebook acquired another VR company: brain-computing start-up CTRL-labs. CTRL-Labs’ tech utilizes a wrist band that registers neuron pulses and translates them into digital inputs a device would understand, like a neuron impulses that signals a mouse to right-click for example. Applied to the VR experience, this revolutionary mechanism could have significant implications on the industry.
Facebook is clearly thinking big, even if its efforts won’t be rewarded in the next 3 to 5 years, the social media giant is in it for the long run.
What is Beat Saber?
When Beat Saber launched in 2018, it offered music rhythm gamers a fresh twist on the genre.
Instead of button mashing to hit the correct notes like you would in a traditional rhythm game like Guitar Hero, Beat Saber utilizes the virtual space of VR and its two controllers to allow players to literally slash ‘note’ blocks with Star Wars-inspired light sabers as timed with the music. This allows for an exhilarating experience of punchy music and bright colors. Each controller represents a light saber in the player’s hand, which they use to cut clocks as they approach to match the rhythm of the song.
While VR as a whole has struggled to take off, especially in the challenging gaming sector, Beat Saber has been an anomaly. This is most likely why the studio behind the game caught Facebook’s attention in the first place.