Oculus is winding down VR Story Studio

Sundance Film Festival

In an effort to continue its creative development in virtual reality (VR), Kickstarter success Oculus announced it was shutting down its Story Studio.

Facebook's award winning Oculus virtual reality studio is being shut down, but the social network has also revealed that 5% of its staff are working on VR projects.

Rubin said that Facebook is still "absolutely committed to growing the VR film and creative content ecosystem" and will dedicate $50 million from a recent $250 million VR investment to fund the production of non-gaming VR media.

Oculus, which is owned by Facebook, will focus on supporting and funding third-party content creators, turning its attention internally to the "unsolved problems in AR and VR hardware and software".

For starters, Oculus already confirmed that no one would be let go and that everyone will be able to find new roles at either Facebook or Oculus.

The studio's shutdown will also result in the immediate end of production on the VR adaptation of Neil Gaiman's children's book "The Wolves in the Walls", according to Variety, an experience that was slated to debut in 2018.


Perhaps Facebook is stepping away from the Oculus brand altogether with an intention to rebrand the division as Facebook VR?

Initially, US$50-million will be made available for "non-gaming, experiential VR content". The Studio created award-winning VR shorts, including Henry that bagged Emmy Award.

While the shutdown of Oculus Stories Studio isn't super news for Oculus, "declaring the demise of VR" because of it "is both alarmist and somewhat premature", Mike Bloxham, SVP of Frank N. Magid Associates, said in a statement regarding the decision.

Studios like Within, Baobab, Penrose, Felix & Paul, and plenty more have raised significant money in the pursuit of becoming defining studios in VR film. Instead, says Rubin, the company will fund outside VR experiences.

"The work Story Studio was doing was compelling", said J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. However, Rubin wrote that closing Story Studio was "the best way to allocate our resources to create an impact on the ecosystem".

Hugo Barra, who left a job at Chinese phone maker Xiaomi.is now leading Facebook's virtual reality efforts, including the Oculus team.

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