Facebook buys Oculus Rift maker for $2bn as it prepares to sell ads in a virtual world

Facebook has bought Oculus VR, the manufacturer of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, for $2bn (£1.2bn) in a move Mark Zuckerberg believes could see the company introduce advertising into a virtual reality world that is the "most social platform ever".

Oculus Rift: Facebook buys maker Oculus VR for $2bn
Oculus Rift: Facebook buys maker Oculus VR for $2bn

Facebook made the shock announcement about the acquisition last night after the stock market had closed in a move that has received mixed reactions from developers working with Oculus Rift developer kits.

In a blog post about the acquisition, the Oculus team said it may not "seem obvious why Oculus is partnering with Facebook", before arguing the companies share the same values and Facebook "understands the potential for VR".

Oculus raised its initial funding on Kickstarter, which involves people donating to fledgling companies without receiving an equity stake, by positioning itself as a company that is "designed by gamers, for gamers".

Developers’ comments on the blog post revealing the acquisition have been largely negative, with a developer called Caleb Benningfield stating "all that talk about revolutionizing things and it was just to build up value for an acquisition".

The creator of the popular 'Minecraft' game, Markus Persson, stated on Twitter that he has now shelved plans for bringing Minecraft to Oculus because "Facebook creeps me out".

Speaking on an analysts' call about the acquisition, Facebook chief executive Zuckerberg said: "We are clearly not a hardware company. We are not going to try and make a profit off the devices long term.

"We view this as a software and services thing where we can make this a network where people are communicating and buying things and virtual goods, and there might be advertising in the world, but we need to figure that out further down the line then, that is probably where the business will come from."

Zuckerberg added that "gaming is just the start" and he envisages Oculus will be a platform for "many other experiences".

He added: "Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world,  consulting with a doctor face to face, or going shopping in a virtual store where you can touch and explore the products you are interested in.

"This is really a new social platform – imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online but entire experiences and adventures."

Oculus will operate independently within Facebook and the release date of commercial version of the Oculus Rift is yet to be revealed.

Brendan Iribe, founder of Oculus, said the company plans to "invent the future" with Facebook and will benefit from the latter supporting it from a "recruitment, marketing and infrastructure" perspective".

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