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Hot on the heels of Oculus deciding to skip E3, they announced today that they will be shutting down their internal Oculus Story Studio team. This was a group of developers focused on creating animations and stories that were non-interactive in VR. The studio started out with Henry, an animated short they debuted with the Oculus’ release. Facebook and Oculus say this will allow their internal devs to focus on other types of projects while other creators fill the narrative-based void.
Oculus says they’ll continue to support the external efforts to create VR stories, but they’ve cut their funding to these external efforts drastically. From the $250 million they’ll be offering to third party VR devs, $50 million will be funneled towards developers creating “non-gaming, experiential VR content.”
$50 million may sound like a lot, but divide that amongst a handful of developers and suddenly it’s only a portion of your project. In the modern day where bigger AAA games cost way more than $100 million, it’s not much help if Oculus buys this week’s lunch trip to Applebees. First party development is important for hardware manufacturers. It often sets the tone for other projects on your devices. Hopefully this is just a small adjustment and not the beginning of shift away from narrative experiences in VR.
Considering we’re only at the beginning of this recent push into virtual reality, it’d be a shame to see everything focus solely on gaming and nothing else.