Sunday, 10 Dec 2023

Facebook Acquires 'Beat Saber' Studio Beat Games – Road to VR

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Facebook today announced it has acquired Beat Games, the studio behind the hit VR rhythm game Beat Saber (2018). Beat Games is joining Oculus Studios as an independently operated team based out of Prague.

Facebook didn’t release any further info in regards to the terms of acquisition, however the company had some choice words on what it meant to the game’s users on all supported platforms, which includes Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Windows VR headsets.

Mike Verdu, Facebook’s Director of AR/VR Content, said Beat Games will “continue to ship content and updates for Beat Saber at the same time across all currently supported platforms.”

Concerning the moddablity of game, which is a cornerstone of its functionality on PC VR and to some extent also Quest, Verdu had this to say:

We understand and appreciate the value that modding brings to Beat Saber when done so legally and within our policies. We’re going to do our best to preserve the value that mods bring to the Beat Saber player base. As a reminder, our most recent policy updates give more clarity to how developer mode is intended to be used, such as helping developers build their apps or for enthusiasts to explore new concepts. It is not intended for engaging in piracy or illicit modding, including mods that infringe on third-party IP rights or contain malicious code.

Although not stated specifically, it’s not unlikely that by “third-part IP rights” Facebook is implying the distribution of music and its corresponding beat maps may no longer be sanctioned by Beat Games under Facebook, which has thus far operated in a grey area legally. Sony doesn’t allow modding of Beat Saber for PSVR for the same legal reasons. We’ve reached out to Beat Games to clarify this, and will update when/if we hear back.

After Sony’s acquisition of Insomniac Games, it’s possible Facebook has begun looking to strategically mark its territory by locking down the rights to Beat Saber, one of the most visible games in VR right now. Facebook thus far hasn’t publicly acquired a VR studio, potentially making this a big first for the company, which is confident in securing what Mark Zuckerberg hopes will one day reach a billion people, even if it’s admittedly taking longer than he initially hoped.

As an indie studio that’s sold well over one million copies of its game as of March 2019, and also signed some fairly high-level deals with bands such as Imagine Dragons and Panic at the Disco!, Facebook’s cash will undoubtedly also provide the studio with a means to secure more and bigger music deals. What Beat Games has up its sleeve next, we aren’t sure yet though, and  whether Facebook bought it defensively or offensively is still to be determined.

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