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Facebook buying Oculus VR

Facebook has announced that it will be buying Oculus VR, creator of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, for US$2 billion.

Facebook has announced that it will be buying Oculus VR, creator of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, for US$2 billion.

(Credit: Oculus VR)

The deal includes US$400 million in cash and 23.1 million Facebook shares valued at US$1.6 billion, the company has announced.

"Mobile is the platform of today, and now we're also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow," said Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate."

The company last week announced that the second generation Oculus Rift developer kit would be available to developers, but a consumer model has yet to be announced — something that has frustrated backers of the original Kickstarter campaign, which ran 18 months ago.

Nevertheless, the device's presence in the world has inspired a resurgence in VR gaming, with Sony announcing at this year's GDC that it was making its own foray into the technology.

"We are excited to work with Mark and the Facebook team to deliver the very best virtual reality platform in the world," said Brendan Iribe, co-founder and CEO of Oculus VR. "We believe virtual reality will be heavily defined by social experiences that connect people in magical, new ways. It is a transformative and disruptive technology, that enables the world to experience the impossible, and it's only just the beginning."

Zuckerberg himself posted to Facebook to clarify what the deal would entail for Oculus Rift.

"Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won't be changing and we hope to accelerate," he wrote. "But this is just the start. After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home."

But already the acquisition has proved disruptive. Within half an hour of the announcement, Marcus "Notch" Persson announced that he would be cancelling the Oculus Rift edition of Minecraft.

The move also has gamers and Oculus Rift fans flummoxed, but the Oculus team remains positive about the deal. "Facebook understands the potential for VR. Mark and his team share our vision for virtual reality’s potential to transform the way we learn, share, play, and communicate. Facebook is a company that believes that anything is possible with the right group of people, and we couldn’t agree more," a post on the company's official blog reads.

"Over the next 10 years, virtual reality will become ubiquitous, affordable, and transformative, and it begins with a truly next-generation gaming experience. This partnership ensures that the Oculus platform is coming, and that it's going to change gaming forever."

Oculus VR will continue to develop the Oculus Rift headset at its headquarters in Irvine, California.