March 26, 2014 — Published by: Drew Benvie
The implications of Facebook purchasing Oculus
It seemed no one in the tech space saw it coming. On Tuesday the 25th of March 2014, Facebook announced that it had purchased Oculus, developers of the virtual reality headset Oculus Rift, for $2bn. According to Oculus' company statement on its website, Facebook "understands the potential for VR" and the social networking giant can see "virtual reality’s potential to transform the way we learn, share, play, and communicate."
Despite some excitement at the thought of Facebook entering the VR market, not everyone in the VR industry was enthralled by the acquisition. Noticeably, Markus Persson, the creator of Minecraft who is planning a Oculus Rift version of his sandbox game, posted a particularly scathing view on the whole deal. In his blog, he mentions that he finds Facebook "creepy" and is unsure of the social network's motives.
Regardless of the negative and positive reactions Facebook's acquisition of Oculus is bound to receive, there is no denying that it presents opportunities for brands, education and the way we consume social media.
Apart from simply creating more immersive gaming experiences, VR provides opportunities for brands as well that goes beyond gamification. According to Marketing Week, Facebook entering the VR space enables marketers to take on a more indie games developer role, developing immersive gaming content for their audience.
Additionally, VR on social networks presents marketers with the opportunity to create even deeper brand experiences for their target market. Mobile operator and England Rugby sponsor 02 is already being a first mover with the Oculus Rift by offering fans a chance to go behind the scenes with the England Rugby squad. With this acquisition, we're bound to see more brands, who already have a strong presence on Facebook, experiment with VR.
Virtual reality has huge implications for the real world - one of the most important areas being health. The Oculus Rift enables individuals to rehabilitate from experiences physical and mental as well as to experience things which they may not have otherwise been able to due to limitations. From a more in-depth perspective, the Oculus Rift enables health professionals to more deeply study organic matter and perform research, insights or study things which might be difficult to do in previous tech environments.
Where education has been based around broadening the horizons of the young and old, virtual reality adds a layer to the toolkit of professors and teachers around the world. From a research perspective and a teaching point of view, Education fulfils this remit to broaden horizons and provide access to parts of the globe which were not accessible before. A PhD student can explore relevant elements of their study in the OR, or a teacher can show students a part of the world they're studying. Facebook wants to tap into this and become a 'go-to' source for knowledge, plus an incredible medium to view it on.
Photo courtesy of Kotaku.