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Facebook bought rights to make VR versions of popular video games "Assassin's Creed" and "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell" for its Oculus VR headsets as it moves to boost its gaming investments, per The Information. If Oculus can generate solid interest with the high-profile IP "Assassin's Creed" is over a decade old and is one of the only games in history to sell over a hundred million copies it could help catalyze uptake of the headsets.
The investment represents a deepening of Facebook's commitment to Oculus in general, and gaming in particular. The company purchased VR company Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, as it hoped to get into VR early, but the headsets still haven't taken off. Many consumers view the headsets especially the Oculus headsets as too expensive, clunky, and limited, as there isn't much content available yet.
Facebook's latest move seeks to address that last point, and other recent moves also signal a renewed focus on its gaming library: Oculus content VP Jason Rubin was recently named head of special gaming initiatives, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly personally involved with Oculus' gaming deals.
Along with innovations on the VR headsets themselves, Facebook is no doubt hoping these popular gaming titles will boost Oculus sales and engagement. And it's likely hoping that happens fast, as competition is mounting: For instance, cloud-based gaming company Shadow has been collecting titles to transform into virtual reality experiences as it works on an algorithm to improve the VR gaming experience overall.
The gaming industry is booming, and immersive experiences with social elements are hugely popular among gamers. For instance, the industry is projected to hit $180.1 billion in revenue by 2021, up from $137.9 billion in 2018, per Newzoo. And "the initial purchase of a game is just the beginning of a game's monetization," according to analyst Samantha Greenberg.
The success of games from Fortnite , which has flourished because of its global community, to Pokmon Go , which required users to run around the real world (and a lot of people did), have set a precedent for immersive mediums like AR and VR engaging users beyond pure gameplay.
In general, tech giants are increasing their efforts in the gaming space as technological advancements push the boundaries of how video games can be experienced. Tech companies like Google (Stadia), Apple (Arcade), Microsoft (xCloud) are each planning cloud gaming services, and even Snapchat is doubling down on in-app AR gaming experiences.
For reference, cloud gaming can replace hardware like gaming consoles with a remote server that runs input from a controller through the cloud to deliver video and audio. It promises to be available through a variety of devices, like phones or laptops, making it potentially more accessible than console-based gameplay.
There's a ton of buzz surrounding the topic right now, and much of that buzz surrounds the possibilities brought on by a union between cloud gaming and VR. If the cloud tech can deliver the high-quality (lag-free) gaming experience it promises, that would smooth out a pain point for gamers and likely help drive VR uptake. And if Oculus can get players to use its VR sets in the first place cementing itself as the key hardware provider it'd likely be the main beneficiary of any such advances in cloud gaming tech.
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