Facebook is gunning for Sony’s gaming throne, and it’s arming itself by partnering with Ubisoft to bring exclusives of popular franchises Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell to the Oculus VR headset.
Alongside dipping into established intellectual properties, The Information reports that Facebook is eager to acquire game studios to develop original games amid a broader push into the industry, ostensibly spearheaded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself.
Facebook Wants to Compete With Sony’s PlayStation VR
Facebook’s plans center on using the draw of high-profile franchises to prompt consumers into buying their Oculus headset. The former head of content at Oculus, Jason Rubin, heads the project in a new position as vice president of special gaming initiatives at Facebook with a reported budget of $1 billion.
Facebook isn’t even trying to hide the fact that it’s copying Sony’s homework. The Japanese gaming mainstay giant released exclusives from major studies like From Software and Bethesda for PlayStation VR that solidified its position as the dominant VR platform.
Facebook is embarking on a similar mission.
Content is king. As it stands, the Oculus catalog has a few notable entries, such as Beat Saber and an upcoming title from EA-owned Respawn, the studio behind battle royale Apex Legends, but lacks mainline entries from popular franchises.
Facebook’s desire to carve itself a more significant portion of the gaming market is no secret. Until recently, Mark Zuckerberg’s company has focused on the casual gaming sphere with a heavy emphasis on social franchises.
Now, the firm is setting its sights on the hardcore gamer market.
Facebook Wants a Bigger Stake in Gaming
Still, the prospect of Facebook destabilizing heavy-hitters of the ilk of Sony or Nintendo is unlikely.
Already a dinosaur as far as younger consumers are concerned, Facebook’s reputation as the social media platform for your grandparents will make it difficult for the firm to trigger the seismic shift necessary to secure a larger slice of the gaming pie.
After Facebook forked out $2 billion in 2014 to acquire Oculus, the company explained the acquisition as a means to get its foot in the door as it banked on VR developing into a widely adopted, mainstream technology.
VR has not caught as expected, despite the pomp with which the tech hit the scene in the mid-2010s. Adoption rates among consumers remain lackluster, and according to a survey conducted at last year’s Game Developers Conference, nearly 30 percent of polled developers don’t see VR as a viable tech for the future of gaming.
Nevertheless, Oculus’ prospects aren’t all bad. The Oculus Quest, the most recent all-in-one wireless model of the headset, shipped in May and accrued $5 million in sales in just two weeks.
But with so many eggs in the VR basket, it’s hard to see how Facebook can achieve its gaming ambitions through investment in a tech that struggles to grow.
The desire to acquire studios may prove to be the company’s saving grace, especially if it opts to develop original IPs for traditional non-VR platforms. Amazon has adopted a similar strategy, but as the retailer is yet to release a game developed by its in-house studios, the jury is still out.