Wednesday, October 4

Facebook Has Invested $250M in VR “Oculus” To Make it More Social

Zuckerberg said his company has invested $250 million to back developers building new games and other virtual-reality programs for Oculus, and is vowing to double that amount. The investment will make virtual reality more social as the industry gets more crowded.

Facebook’s Oculus division is hoping to distinguish its offerings from other leading tech companies whose selling their VR products. At an event on Thursday, the company announced a long-awaited shipping date – Dec. 6 – for its Oculus Touch hand controllers.

In a two-hour presentation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, meanwhile, donned one of those headsets for an onstage demonstration in which he visited Mars, played virtual cards with two other people, then made a video call to his wife while standing in a digital simulation of his living room.

Company’s other executives showed a host of new virtual-reality games for their platform and new tools for software developers to build programs in which multiple players can interact.

Oculus has been showing prototypes of its Touch hand controllers since last year, but started shipping its high-end virtual-reality headsets without them this spring. Gartner tech analyst Brian Blau said the controllers will let people do more with the Oculus system, which should increase consumer interest.

But they won’t be cheap. The pair of controllers will sell with a sensor device, for $199. Oculus says they’re designed to be more comfortable and intuitive than traditional video game controllers, which can be purchased for less than $50.