Facebook buys Oculus VR

Facebook has acquired Oculus VR, the company building the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, for $2 billion. Oculus will keep its headquarters in Irvine, California.

"We are excited to work with Mark and the Facebook team to deliver the very best virtual reality platform in the world," Oculus co-founder and CEO Brendan Iribe said in a press release. "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."

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that he views the Oculus Rift as a new communication platform. He wrote the following (in a Facebook post, of course):

"The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community, and there's a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform. We're going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games. Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook to achieve this. 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."

Pre-orders for the Oculus Rift dev kit 2.0 went live last week, after Oculus VR shipped more than 60,000 of the original model. Oculus has a close partnership with Valve, recently signing a former Valve VR lead as its new chief architect and establishing offices in Seattle, Washington, near Valve HQ. At GDC 2014, Sony revealed its own VR headset, Project Morpheus.

Update: In a blog post, the Oculus team lists its reasons for entering into this seemingly odd partnership: "At first glance, it might not seem obvious why Oculus is partnering with Facebook, a company focused on connecting people, investing in internet access for the world and pushing an open computing platform. But when you consider it more carefully, we're culturally aligned with a focus on innovating and hiring the best and brightest; we believe communication drives new platforms; we want to contribute to a more open, connected world; and we both see virtual reality as the next step.

"Most important, 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. "