The Oculus Story Studio, which was in charge for creating narrative driven content for the virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift, is being shut down by Facebook.
The news comes via a post over on the official Oculus blog, where Jason Rubin explained that Facebook and Oculus are entering into the next phase of development and progress of the VR ecosystem for the Rift.
But why are they “winding down” the Story Studio at Oculus? According to Rubin, it’s because they have investments set aside for other endeavors… externally…
“Now that a large community of filmmakers and developers are committed to the narrative VR art form, we’re going to focus on funding and supporting their content. This helps us turn our internal research, development, and attention towards exciting but unsolved problems in AR and VR hardware and software.”
That comes across to me as a nice way of saying that Story Studio didn’t produce anything that could generate revenue and so it’s time for them to move on.
For those of you who don’t know, the studio was in charge of producing content such as Henry, Lost and Dear Angelica.
According to UploadVR, the Story Studio’s Quill middleware and design tools will still be available for content creators. They also note that the short films that the studio produced will still be available for download from the Oculus Store.
Rubin, however, notes that their money will now be focused on funding future projects and additional exclusive content for the Rift, writing…
“Last year, we committed an additional $250M to fund VR content from developers all over the world. That investment supported games like Robo Recall, Rock Band VR, and Wilson’s Heart, plus powerful VR experiences like Through the Ages from Felix & Paul and the Follow My Lead experience featuring the 2016 NBA finals.
“We’re going to carve out $50M from that financial commitment to exclusively fund non-gaming, experiential VR content. This money will go directly to artists to help jumpstart the most innovative and groundbreaking VR ideas.”
One certainly has to question how much the negative publicity generated over the fake news about Palmer Luckey supporting Donald Trump bit into Oculus’ mind-share? You also have to wonder about how much the HTC Vive’s open-platform ecosystem is also biting into the Oculus Rift’s market-share?
I suppose we’ll find out throughout 2017 if the Rift will actually prove to be financially beneficial to Facebook.