Well, this is unexpected. Today TechCrunch announced that mighty Facebook has bought the tiny Czech company Beat Games, makers of Beat Saber, which is probably the most successful VR game to date with well over a million units sold.
TechCrunch reporter Lucas Matney wrote:
Beat Games was one of the more successful VR game studios out there — they had announced earlier this year that they had sold more than 1 million copies of the game — but part of the reason they were prosperous was because they were so lean. When I profiled the studio last year, they had just 8 employees and had opted out of raising any VC funding.
Meanwhile, as VR’s most popular game, Facebook had a bit riding on their continued success. Facebook highlighted the studio’s success specifically at its its VR developer conference and had included a limited version of the studio’s game for free on its Oculus Quest headsets. Buying the studio means allowing them to expand ambitions without being concerned about profitability.
Beat Games had begun expansion by partnering with musicians to release their songs as levels in the game, partnering with artists like Imagine Dragons and Panic at the Disco to bring paid level packs to Beat Saber. One can imagine that Facebook will have a much easier time making conversations happen with top artists.
One thing that die-hard fans of the game will likely not enjoy is how this acquisition will impact user mods. The studio had introduced tools for users to create their own songs with uploaded audio files and unsurprisingly there’s a good deal of content that’s probably not supposed to be on there. With a small game studio that stuff was more likely to slide, but Facebook has the resources to crack down on it so I’m guessing they’ll have to.
So, you can expect a swift end to the practice of creating and distributing custom songs for Beat Saber, since most of them do not have the copyright holder’s permission to do so. However, Facebook certainly has enough money to ink deals with various record labels to legally put their tunes on Beat Saber.
It will be interesting to see what other smaller VR game developers Facebook decides to snap up. And here’s an intriguing thought: could we someday see a Beat Saber portal built directly into Facebook’s planned social VR platform Horizon?