If you’ve dabbled in Virtual Reality, you probably know that Oculus Rift was the most up and coming VR start up in the last 5 years. In March 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus for $2.3 billion. This may seem like a large investment, but this is a small price to pay for one of Facebooks biggest power plays on the digital world.
Soon after the purchase, Oculus announced it’s partnership with Microsoft in 2015. They also announced that they were going to bundle an Xbox One controller with every Oculus Rift. To top it all off, they created a streaming platform for Xbox games with a virtual room. Neither, the Xbox controller or the streaming service ended up performing very well. In fact, they ended up pulling out the Xbox controller all-together. The streaming service now sits at 3 out of 5 star ratings and no return on investment. But in the end, Microsoft secured its spot developing the most user friendly VR technology. After all, they’re a software company! Who would be better suited to integrate the VR code onto a PC platform?
Here’s The Plan
Facebook has no vested interest in the gaming world and yet they’ve chose to partner up with a company that owns a large majority of the gaming world. Oculus would not have made a deal with Microsoft if it was not for the purpose of growing it’s own business. Sure, you can call it an investment in a new product. According to a report from Canalys, in Q3 of 2017, Sony shipped 490,000 PlayStation VR headsets, Oculus shipped 210,000 Rift headsets and HTC shipped 160,000 Vive units. So yes, they’re are the not the largest player in the game, but Facebook has bigger plans. Fortunately, their is still some healthy competition in the industry, but it is not the largest grossing product or service that they own. Not by a long shot…
So what’s the point? Simply put, Facebook has convinced one the largest software companies to develop the VR technology that will take social media to a whole new level. That’s right! Facebook has the largest user base with over 2 billion users. Imagine if all if Facebook could convert all of those users to a cloud based VR platform. This has the potential to be the largest cloud based, VR, social media platform in the world. We’re talking biggest cloud based, VR world to ever exist. Think about meeting your friends for coffee on a virtual meeting, in a virtual mall, in your virtual clothes, all while hanging out in your living room!
Are you starting to see the picture now?
No doubt, they wouldn’t come out and announce this for the sake of PR until the product is perfected, but I would put money on a Facebook VR platform in the next 10-20 years.
The Competition in VR Cloud Platforms
So far, the pickings are pretty slim and most VR platforms are built for gamers. “VRchat” gives gamers an immersive platform. It’s built not only to partake in a variety of mini-games, but also to simply interact online. This is a single PC game that caters to a group of gamers that want something more out of a VR game and VRchat delivers it. There are also plenty of VR games for the PC and even the PS4, but that is only one small portion of the overall market.
For those that aren’t gamers, there is Emergent VR. This San Francisco based company has over $2.2 million in overall funding out of two rounds. You could say that they are developing the next medium for virtual reality communication. Emergent VR has multiple applications, the most popular of which can capture 360 degree images which makes it easy to re-live the memory from an Oculus Gear VR headset. You can also share your captured on the Emergent VR app, making it a more social experience. All this being said, the platform has a long way to go before it becomes widely used.
The truth is that for the average internet user, there is no social, VR platform which brings everyone together in one space. That means that there is a huge market opportunity for someone that can bring a significant crowd to their own platform. Facebook is winning the social media race for now, the question is whether or not they can do the same with virtual reality.