Facebook is getting out of the narrative-based VR experience business.
Oculus VR content boss Jason Rubin revealed today that the company is closing its internal Oculus Story Studio, which is the division that worked on non-interactive 360-degree short films for the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR headsets. Story Studio is likely best known for the Henry short that tells the story of a spiky hedgehog that likes to hug people despite this prickly parts. Now, instead of building that kind of content itself, Oculus and parent company Facebook will look externally for similar projects.
“Now that a large community of filmmakers and developers are committed to the narrative VR art form, we’re going to focus on funding and supporting their content,” Rubin wrote in his blog post. “This helps us turn our internal research, development, and attention towards exciting but unsolved problems in AR and VR hardware and software.”
Rubin went on to say that Oculus and Facebook are “committed to growing the VR film and creative content ecosystem” even if it’s not participating in that venture first-hand. Oculus is not backing away from trying to pay for VR content, though. Rubin pointed out that it will continue to put its money into third-party games and experiences.
“Last year, we committed an additional $250 million to fund VR content from developers all over the world,” said Rubin. “That investment supported games like Robo Recall, Rock Band VR, and Wilson’s Heart, plus powerful VR experiences like Through the Ages from Felix & Paul and the Follow My Lead experience featuring the 2016 NBA finals.”
The company is now earmarking a fifth of that previously promised total for the kinds of projects that Story Studio previously would have made.
“We’re going to carve out $50 million from that financial commitment to exclusively fund non-gaming, experiential VR content,” said Rubin. “This money will go directly to artists to help jumpstart the most innovative and groundbreaking VR ideas.”