Cantillon: Facebook game for some virtual reality

Latest buying spree has left people scratching their heads

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer of Facebook,  is betting the virtual reality environment will be the platform of the future, and the company has shelled out $2 billion – including $400 million in cash – to back that gamble.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer of Facebook, is betting the virtual reality environment will be the platform of the future, and the company has shelled out $2 billion – including $400 million in cash – to back that gamble.

Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 01:02

Facebook is at it again: spending billions buying up companies in a spree that has left some people scratching their heads.

Last month it was messaging application WhatsApp, for a whopping $19 billion (€13.7 billion). This time, it’s Oculus VR, a company that has been developing a virtual reality display for gaming, the Oculus Rift. Exactly what Facebook would want with such a company isn’t immediately obvious. But chief executive Mark Zuckerberg ( pictured ) is betting the virtual reality environment will be the platform of the future, and the company has shelled out $2 billion – including $400 million in cash – to back that gamble.

It is being seen as somewhat of a coup for the social media firm. It now has control of the VR company, which puts it at an advantage to Apple and Google when it comes to mobile gaming. Although 375 million people play Facebook-connected games every month, according to the company’s own figures, iOS and Android are benefiting more from the rise in popularity of mobile gaming, with a massive amount of content available on both platforms. This latest acquisition could be Facebook’s way of getting back in the driving seat.

But Facebook isn’t pinning its hopes just on gaming. It is looking beyond Oculus’s current gaming applications to see where else the technology can be used Specifically, Zuckerberg said, it could be used to consult face-to-face with a doctor, or attend a class with students and teachers from all over the world. And, of course, we’re back to that often-repeated Facebook ambition of “connecting everyone”, except this time it’s on a more immersive scale. Can we expect some in-your-face advertising courtesy of the tie-in? Probably.

There has already been a touch of backlash from certain quarters, although this will probably will cause little concern for Zuckerberg. Gamers are outraged about the deal. Minecraft maker Markus Persson has already shelved plans for a Rift-compatible version of the game, saying he wouldn’t work with Facebook, citing an unstable platform and a lack of trust in the company that seemed “creepy” to him.

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