Market Insight

Oculus Rift takes shape through acquisition

July 16, 2014

Steve Bailey Steve Bailey Principal Senior Analyst, Games, IHS Markit
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Oculus VR has made a pair of acquisitions, purchasing hardware designer Carbon Design and middleware developer RakNet. Terms of the deals were not disclosed by Oculus, however Carbon’s track record includes the lauded joypad for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console, and RakNet’s networking engine has been rendered open-source as part of the buy-up.

Our analysis:

Our broader thoughts on Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR in March, and the prospects for the technology across various terms, can be found here and hereThese two acquisitions make sense, for differing reasons, but both of which are emblematic of the span that Rift has ahead of it.

  • Carbon Design. This is necessary, as VR headsets as they stand, form little other than elaborate display devices. They still need some form of input in order to become interactive. Making this an effective marriage is one of many hurdles that lay ahead for the technology. Ultimately, less intrusive controllers driven by more intuitive mechanisms will emerge, but until then, a standard video game joypad represents a solid opening baseline for instigating Rift as a gaming proposition.

 

  • RakNet: Oculus VR’s choice to make this open-source is important, as it encourages uptake among game developers, and also allows Rift to maintain relevance and visibility. We expect more such moves that enrich Oculus as a game-development proposition – at this point, growing Rift's approachability is essential. Compelling applications (Facebook itself is not a developer, as yet) are necessary to maintain Rift’s momentum, as it moves beyond the experimental and looks to its first forays on the market.

 

In some ways, Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR is as a ‘games’ acquisition is misleading – while the interim story of Rift may centre on gaming, Facebook’s purchase of this technology is about much more. To the extent, even, that it must see Rift as a non-specialist device, given the umbrella of potential roles it could come to serve for the company. As such, even though the headset is expected to see commercial launch within a year, the unit has myriad iterations and evolutions awaiting before it, with regards to specification, input device and targeted application.

 

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