The Facebook-owned VR company announced late Thursday that its internal Oculus Story Studio, dedicated to producing short films for viewing within an Oculus Rift headset, has been shut down, effective immediately. The studio's shorts-Lost, Henry, and Dear Angelica-were polished appetizers created to whet the appetite of the film community for a full course of immersive narrative that VR could offer. He stated that the company is "winding down Story Studio" as part of a shift towards supporting external content.
Last year, Oculus committed $250 million to fund VR content. Rubin said the company will put $50 million of that toward exclusively funding non-gaming, experiential VR content. Oculus is promising to continue providing resources and programs to VR content creators.
"Last year, we committed an additional $250M to fund VR content from developers all over the world", said Rubin.
Facebook originally paid $3 billion for Oculus back in 2014, and since then the company has been mired in a devastating legal case that has hindered progress. Among the projects that had been in development within the unit was a virtual reality adaptation of Neil Gaiman's The Wolves in the Walls. This is a good thing for the VR industry as a whole as there are still some issues with both the hardware and software which could do with some extra attention, and now Oculus is going to be able to provide that extra attention. The studio created Quill - a tool for drawing directly within VR - for another film called Dear Angelica.
"The work Story Studio was doing was compelling", said J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.
A scene from 'Henry, ' a virtual reality short created by Oculus Story Studio.
However, two years after it was founded, it has experienced its biggest setback as Facebook announced it is to close the studio. Instead, says Rubin, the company will fund outside VR experiences. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, who has proven to be a controversial figure on social media, parted ways with Facebook in March.
Facebook is getting out of the virtual reality film business. Oculus may be shoring up "exclusivity" money to make sure Oculus headsets appear in more of these demos, but it will come at the cost of its former zany-idea incubator.