Facebook Acquires ‘Beat Saber’ VR Development Studio Beat Games
Facebook is acquiring Beat Games, the development studio behind the virtual reality hit game Beat Saber. Following the acquisition, Beat Games will still continue operating independently from its Prague headquarters but it will now be a part of Facebook’s VR gaming group Oculus Studios.
The terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed yet but Oculus content director Mike Verdu stated via a blog post that Beat Saber will not be platform-exclusive and will continue releasing on all platforms and the development studio will not be prioritizing Oculus headsets either for updates or new content such as the Beat Saber music packs.
From Oculus perspective, the acquisition provides the small Prague-based development studio with more development resources. Before the acquisition, Beat Saber was already expanding its small original song catalog by adding new music packs including songs from Panic! At the Disco and Imagine Dragons. Beat Saber is also a new 360-degree mode of the game in December.
Great news: @BeatGamesStudio is joining Oculus Studios! @BeatSaber is the first VR-only platinum hit + one of the best ways to show people the magic of VR. We’re excited to welcome this awesome team. Director of Content Mike Verdu shares more on the blog: https://t.co/jKF98nkQ4h pic.twitter.com/oEWS5aGJJk
— Oculus (@oculus) November 26, 2019
Beat Saber is a rhythm game that feels like a cross between Guitar Hero and Fruit Ninja with a lightsaber duel thrown in. The VR title was released in 2018 and has been one of the most successful breakout VR titles to date having sold more than a million copies. The game is not only simple for all VR enthusiasts but it is also lightweight, easy to pick up but at the same time, hard to master. The game is also available on all the leading high-end virtual reality platforms including on Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift.
Beat Saber has also been helped to a great deal by the thriving modding scene, much of which has heavily relied on pirated music, a practice many developers have been attempting to discourage without suppressing the entire community.
In a blog post, Oculus stated that it understood the value that modding adds to Beat Saber when it is done legally and within its policies. It says that it plans to its best to preserve the value that mods add to the Beat Saber player base. Oculus’ most recent policy change provides more clarity on how on how the developer mode is intended to be used like in assisting developers build apps or for enthusiasts to explore new concepts. Oculus says its policy updates are not intended to encourage piracy or illicit modding, including the mods that might contain a malicious code or infringe on the third-party IP rights.
Oculus has been funding plenty of Rift- and Quest-exclusive content but with the acquisition, Oculus is now taking an interesting direction in its overall strategy. For the past few years, the company has been focused on refining how to grow the content ecosystem for its VR headsets.
Initially, Oculus created some of the VR content in-house while spending millions of dollars on exclusives from various independent studios that have been experimenting with virtual reality content. But the change in strategy has been long time coming. In the past few years, Oculus has channeled some funding into a few but high-profile VR developments studios, trying to win over the big titles to the Oculus platform.
Oculus’ strategy with Beat Games is the same that some of the big players have deployed in the recent years. Google, for example, has no virtual reality hardware line but it has spent money acquiring the VR painting software Tilt Brush. It also acquired Owlchemy Labs, the development studio behind the VR hit games Job Simulator and Vacation Simulator.
With the Beat Games acquisition, it appears Facebook may finally be on the trail of other big players such as Google, Sony and Microsoft that have focused on acquisitions of small studios and funding of new titles as a means to building their content ecosystem. Unlike the other players, however, Facebook doesn’t appear to be keen on platform-exclusivity.
Oculus isn’t ruling out the acquisition of more VR development studios. The company has stated that it is “exploring many ways” of accelerating VR and the company promises that 2020 is going to be an “incredible” year with lots of new game launches and announcements. Oculus says that the acquisition of Beat Game is “just the beginning”.
Die-hard Beat Saber fans will love how the acquisition will impact user mods. Beat Saber has introduced tools that players can use to create their own songs as well as uploaded audio files. There is also a lot of content on the platform that shouldn’t be there and which Beat Saber was unable to crack down on. However, a tech juggernaut like Facebook has the resources to handle problematic content and they are likely going to do it to avoid legal tussles with IP owners and regulators.
For Beat Games, exiting to Facebook is the perfect ending for what has been a fairy tale VR success story so far.