Facebook's virtual reality unit Oculus shutters film studio

Thu May 4, 2017 9:30pm EDT
 
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Facebook Inc's virtual reality content production unit, Oculus' Story Studio, is shuttering its doors to shift focus on supporting external content makers, the company said on Thursday, two years after the in-house studio launched.

Oculus, which makes virtual reality headsets Rift and Gear VR, will allocate $50 million to directly fund creators of non-gaming VR content, Jason Rubin, the company's vice president of content, said in a blog post.

Rubin added that Oculus is "still absolutely committed to growing the VR film and creative content ecosystem."

Facebook paid $3 billion to acquire Oculus and retain its employees in 2014. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said he believed the medium that offers a 360-degree panoramic view using headsets "will become a part of daily life for billions of people."

Oculus tapped talent from both Oscar-winning animation company Pixar and the video gaming world to head up Story Studio, which it launched in January 2015 at the Sundance Film Festival.

Facebook's VR ambitions have been threatened somewhat by a lawsuit from video game publisher ZeniMax Media Inc accusing Facebook and Oculus of infringing ZeniMax's copyrighted software code.

A jury found in ZeniMax's favor in February, awarding it $500 million. Oculus has asked for a new trial.

Vive, a unit of HTC Corp, and Sony Corp are also racing to bring virtual reality products to a mass audience.   Continued...

 
Showgoers wear Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets during the Intel press conference at CES in Las Vegas, January 4, 2017.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking