Skip to Content

Oculus Shuts Down Its Film Studio as VR Still Struggles to Catch On

As consumers remain unconvinced about virtual reality, manufacturers may rein in spending and decide which aspects of the technology to focus on.

Facebook's virtual reality unit, Oculus, has announced that it’s shutting down its in-house film studio—news that may be the start of a bit of belt-tightening in the industry, as more firms try to make VR profitable.

Story Studio, as it was called, was part of an attempt on the part of Oculus, which makes the impressive Rift headset, to foster a rich and varied buffet of content for VR users that isn't restricted to gameplay. And in its announcement, the company—which was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for over $2 billion—said that it will commit $50 million to funding other filmmakers and developers that are building non-gaming content for VR.

But the move could be read as a further sign of VR's struggles to break into the mainstream. As we reported at the end of last year, 2016 was supposed to be a banner year for VR, but sales ultimately proved sluggish. And Oculus appears to be faring worse than most: having suffered the indignity of having to close down a string of in-store demo stations due to lack of demand, it later slashed $200 off the price of its Rift headset and motion controllers to keep up with the likes of Sony.

Then there’s the little matter of that painful lawsuit, in which video game publisher ZeniMax took Oculus to task over alleged intellectual property theft. Ultimately a Texas jury found Palmer Luckey, cofounder of Oculus, guilty of failing to comply with a non-disclosure agreement that he signed with ZeniMax, though he wasn’t found to have stolen trade secrets. That little oopsie cost Oculus $250 million.

With the wider industry struggling to convince people to buy the devices, VR companies will have to take a hard look at their offerings. That's likely to result in trimming some fat and distilling their technology down into something that consumers actually want to buy. It’s just a shame that nobody quite knows what that is yet.

(Read more: Reuters, “Oculus Rift Is Too Cool to Ignore,” “Winners and Losers Begin to Emerge in VR Hardware Race,” “VR Is Cool and All, But Will People Buy It?”)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.