November 27, 2019 – Oculus has announced that Beat Games, creators of popular VR rhythm game, Beat Saber, has been acquired by Facebook. Beat Games will now join Oculus Studios as an independently operated studio in Prague and will continue to create new ways for people to experience music and VR gaming. According to Oculus, despite now being owned by Facebook, Beat Games will continue to operate the same way it has done, as an independent studio, and it will continue to work on Beat Saber across all currently supported platforms. The company will also continue to ship content and updates for Beat Saber across all currently supported platforms, only now with even more support from Facebook.
In a blog post by Oculus, it was noted that Beat Games has “only scratched the surface with Beat Saber in terms of social features, new modes, music, and more.” Facebook has clearly recognized this potential for social features in the Beat Saber game, so more integration and sharing with the Facebook platform may be something players will see in the future. Furthermore, with the new financial backing of the social media giant, it may well also mean a massively expanded library of songs – something that a company like Facebook could easily afford to pay royalties and rights fees for the use of.
Looking forward, Oculus has addressed several questions that its acquisition of Beat Games will have raised with the Beat Saber community.
Firstly, Oculus will not now be prioritizing development for its own platform. Instead, Beat Games will continue to ship content and updates for Beat Saber at the same time across all currently supported platforms, and Oculus has stressed that it will not be slowing down updates for non-Oculus platforms. For work that is already in development, Oculus stated that Beat Games will still be shipping a ‘360° Levels’ mode for Beat Saber in December, and more music is still coming to the game this year as well.
When addressing on whether or not the company plans to acquire other studios, Oculus stated that it is “exploring many ways to accelerate VR, and we think next year is going to be an incredible one of VR game launches and announcements. We are thrilled to have Beat Games join our team.” The company added, “This is just the beginning.” Not exactly a straight answer, even though they asked the question of themselves. However, if this acquisition is in fact “just the beginning”, it can be fairly safe to say that we can expect more acquisitions of other studios by Facebook in the future.
In terms of the Beat Saber modding community, Oculus has noted that it realizes the value that modding brings to Beat Saber when done so legally and within its policies. However, no firm answer on whether or not modding would remain for the game was given. Instead, Oculus commented: “We’re going to do our best to preserve the value that mods bring to the Beat Saber player base. As a reminder, our most recent policy updates give more clarity to how developer mode is intended to be used, such as helping developers build their apps or for enthusiasts to explore new concepts. It is not intended for engaging in piracy or illicit modding, including mods that infringe on third-party IP rights or contain malicious code.” Exactly what this means for the mod-ability of the game is yet to be seen, but it is likely to expect a crackdown on any mods for Beat Saber that do not abide by the company’s policies.
Whether this acquisition turns out to be an example of an indie studio joining a larger company, only to subsequently end up ruining its own product, is unknown. However, Oculus was keen to stress that the acquisition simply represents the joining of like-minded allies, which are both seeking to push VR to new heights together.
Image/video credit: Beat Saber