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Oculus VR acquires game-networking engine RakNet — and makes it open-source

Above: Oculus Rift's second development kit, which has many of the features consumers will end up using.

Image Credit: Oculus VR

Oculus VR is using that Facebook money to make another purchase.

The company announced today that it is acquiring RakNet, which specializes in a software-development engine for connecting games across an online network. RakNet, which is also the name of the technology, enables studios to quickly add voice chat, network patching, and secure connections to their products. Oculus VR, which is building its Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset, notes that thousands of indie developers and major companies like Everquest developer Sony Online Entertainment and Minecraft studio Mojang licensed the tech for their games. Oculus isn’t just purchasing RakNet, it is also making it open source, which means other developers can see the code, add to it, and use it for free.

“We’ve known Kevin Jenkins, founder of Jenkins Software and lead engineer on RakNet, for years, and we’ve used RakNet internally at Oculus for various networked systems and tools,” reads a blog on Oculus VR’s website. “After working with Kevin for a few months, we were all excited by the idea of open-sourcing RakNet to the community.”

The source code for RakNet is already available now on the open-source developer portal GitHub.

While Facebook is also an online-network company, RakNet provides technology specifically built for data-intensive games. This is something that Facebook probably doesn’t have expertise in. Bringing gamers together online in virtual reality is likely an important part of Oculus’s and Facebook’s vision for the Rift, and RakNet’s technology will make it easier for every developer to deliver those types of experiences.

This is second major acquisition since Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion in March. After spending that much money, the social-networking company probably wants to give Oculus chief executive Brendan Iribe and co-founder Palmer Luckey whatever they need to bring their virtual-reality headset to market.

On June 24, Oculus VR purchased Carbon Design Group. That Seattle-based company helped Microsoft design the Xbox 360 controller, the Xbox 360’s Kinect motion-sensing camera, and other hardware that need to both look and feel good.

We’ve reached out to Oculus VR for details about both acquisitions, but Facebook is still in the process of closing its purchase of the virtual-reality company. We likely won’t get the final details on either the RakNet or Carbon buys until after the lawyers finish with the original acquisition.

More information:

Oculus VR™ was founded by Palmer Luckey, self-described virtual reality enthusiast and hardware geek. The company launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund development of their first product, the Oculus Rift, a ground-breaking vir... read more »

Brendan Iribe is co-founder, president and CEO of Scaleform Corporation where he oversees product development, marketing and sales, and business development, and has established the company as the leading user interface technology prov... read more »

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