Facebook is acquiring Beat Games, the developer of popular (and excellent) virtual reality rhythm game Beat Saber. TechCrunch reported that Beat Games will keep operating independently, but it will become part of Oculus Studios, Facebook’s VR gaming group. In a blog post, Oculus content director Mike Verdu said the game will keep releasing across all platforms, and the studio won’t prioritize Oculus headsets for updates or new content like music packs.
Oculus basically describes this purchase as a way to offer Beat Games — a tiny studio formerly known as Hyperbolic Magnetism — more development resources. Before its acquisition, Beat Saber had already started expanding its small original song catalog with new music packs, including songs from Imagine Dragons and Panic! At The Disco. The company is also shipping a new 360-degree game mode in December.
Great news: @BeatGamesStudio is joining Oculus Studios! @BeatSaber is the first VR-only platinum hit + one of the best ways to show people the magic of VR. We’re excited to welcome this awesome team. Director of Content Mike Verdu shares more on the blog: https://t.co/jKF98nkQ4h pic.twitter.com/oEWS5aGJJk— Oculus (@oculus) November 26, 2019
Beat Saber — sort of a cross between Dance Dance Revolution and a lightsaber duel, released in 2018 — has been a rare breakout title in the mostly niche field of VR gaming. It’s simple, lightweight, and easy to pick up, but hard to master. It’s also currently available across all major high-end VR platforms, including the Oculus Rift and Quest.
The game has also benefited from a thriving mod scene, much of which involved pirated music — something the developers have been trying to discourage without suppressing the community as a whole. The Oculus post includes a note about modding:
We understand and appreciate the value that modding brings to Beat Saber when done so legally and within our policies. 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.
Oculus has funded a lot of Rift- and Quest-exclusive content, but this acquisition of a cross-platform game isn’t part of its usual strategy. It’s something other big companies have done, though. Google, which effectively has no VR hardware branch, acquired the painting software Tilt Brush and the studio behind Job Simulator and Vacation Simulator, Owlchemy Labs.
Oculus also doesn’t rule out acquiring more studios. “We’re exploring many ways to accelerate VR, and we think next year is going to be an incredible one of VR game launches and announcements,” says the post. “We are thrilled to have Beat Games join our team. This is just the beginning.”