Facebook Buys the Small Company Behind Million-Selling VR Game Beat Saber

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?

The Robert Long Effect

After two years of blogging, I have completely given up trying to predict what blogposts I make will bring in the most viewers (and hence, potential advertising revenue). It’s a puzzle to me. I have written posts which I figure will bring in lots of readers, only to find them languishing when I later check my statistics on WordPress.

And then, I have blogposts like Meet the Man Who Has Lost 200 Pounds Playing Beat Saber in VR. I literally threw this together as an update on a story that was fairly widely reported almost exactly one year ago, about a man, Robert Long, who credited Beat Saber (along with diet changes and other exercise) with helping him lose a significant amount of weight.

Robert Long at his heaviest (from VRScout)

I posted the story, because I found it inspiring, and then forgot about it. Imagine my surprise when I came back the next day to discover that it had caused a significant spike in my readership:

Over three days, the post racked up 9,492 views! On August 7th, my blog had a total of 6,084 views, completely blowing my previous record of 4,594 views out of the water (which I talked about here). That blogpost is now, unaccountably, the most-popular post on my blog, with a grand total of 9,947 views to date. Almost 10,000 views in only ten days!

And see that second, lower red arrow in the diagram above? It’s pointing to Google News, which send a ton of referral traffic to my blog! I had absolutely no idea that my blog would even show up on Google News as a news source! I’d never seen anything like it before.

So now you know why I say I can’t predict what is going to be popular. It’s a black box, a complete mystery to me!

Meet the Man Who Has Lost 200 Pounds Playing Beat Saber in VR

The popular VR game Beat Saber (available on the Oculus Store for the Rift and Quest and through Steam for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets) has been credited by one man, Robert Long, with helping him lose 200 pounds.

One year ago, VR Focus reported on Rob’s story. At that point, he had lost 138 pounds:

After an unfortunate series of car accidents that resulted in permanent injury to both his back and neck, Robert Long wasn’t sure how he’d recover. Stress hormones at the hands of depression caused Robert to gain weight, preventing doctors from making key procedures to his damaged back.

As a result, Robert began researching realistic exercise options for someone in his unique position, eventually leading him to purchase an HTC Vive, as well as a copy of the massively popular VR rhythm game, Beat Saber.

“It worked for me because it drew in my inner child so I was able to give my all and have fun doing it,” spoke Robert in a Reddit post directed at the Beat Saber community. “If you give this workout and game your all, you will see some amazing results. Who knows you all may even fine-tune this workout better than I even have now.”

And the VR Fitness Insider website interviewed Rob at that time:

VRFI: What would you say to someone who is searching for a workout and wants to use VR for weight loss?

Rob: That the most important part of this is if you want to use Beat Saber as a workout, you have got to love what you are doing. If you label it in your mind as a routine chore you have to do. Then you will be less likely to use it. That’s why you have got to remind yourself that this is not a workout. It’s having fun! And the fun you have will reward you with better health. Because if you are not into working out and lack the motivation, then you will not see the numbers lost that you want. So I recommend in letting out your inner child to play. Clear your mind of all the adult things like stress and try to not bring them into the game. That way when you play, it’s so much fun that you can hardly stop playing. The max I have gone at once is a little over an hour at once. So if you can manage it, enjoy it. The weight will come off. But if you really want to see good numbers you got to give it 100%. None of that slow-moving and standing still. You need to keep that body active.

In his most recent update, in a response to a Reddit post of the cartoon at the top of this blogpost, made one month ago, he says:

I can confirm this is true. I lost 200 pounds so far playing. I got 70 more to go. Had to take a break due to a blown out right shoulder. Then I got better and my grandmother is now about to pass. So it’s always something I swear… So I hope to get rid of that last 70 pounds soon!.

As someone who also needs to lose a significant amount of weight, I find Rob Long’s story inspiring. Hopefully, you will too!