Oculus VR has announced that a shift away from producing its own content has led to the decision to close its cinematic-content division, Story Studio. Changing their focus to instead fund others’ storytelling projects will free up resources allowing it to explore augmented and virtual reality.
Oculus Story Studio produced three short VR films, including the 2016 Creative Arts Emmy-winning “Henry,” which puts viewers in the middle of the birthday party of a hug-loving hedgehog. All of Story Studio’s films are available for download online: https://www.oculus.com/story-studio/films/
Oculus VR reports to have committed $50 million to support non-gaming, experiential virtual reality content out of $250 million slated to fund virtual reality content from various developers.
We’re still absolutely committed to growing the VR film and creative content ecosystem.
—Jason Rubin, Oculus’ Vice President of Content
Facebook’s 2014 purchase of Oculus VR made it nearly synonymous with virtual reality hardware. Since then other platforms, such as PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, have gained popularity due to advanced features and lower price but have not taken away from Oculus’ name recognition. Overall, virtual reality has been maturing very slowly, far more slowly than some expected—especially after the purchase of Oculus.
Despite the slower adoption of VR as a medium, there are studios producing content of the highest quality (Virtual Arcade at Tribeca Film Festival Brings Immersive Content, The Architechnologist, April 28, 2017). Building on the success of virtual reality content created by outside studios, Facebook’s decision to leave creation to others while remaining active as a platform for that content is consistent with its relationship with other types of online media.