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Oculus Shuts Down Story Studio

Oculus announced today that it's "winding down" the Story Studio division responsible for VR films Lost, Henry, and Dear Angelica, as well as the Quill tool that can be used to create similar works. The company will instead focus on supporting other artists in their VR film-making efforts.

The announcement follows a tumultuous couple of months for Oculus. In February, ZeniMax won a $500 million lawsuit and promptly tried to block sales of the Oculus Rift and Samsung's Gear VR headsets, and in March the company announced that founder Palmer Luckey would depart after disappearing from the public eye. Now the company is shuttering a division that has earned critical praise and pushed the boundaries of VR films.

Oculus VP of Content Jason Rubin acknowledged Story Studio's achievements in the blog post announcing its closure:

Lost, Henry, Dear Angelica, and Quill set the foundation upon which VR storytelling sits today. The Story Studio team are pioneers in VR development, and their groundbreaking works will continue to be available on the Oculus Store. Story Studio did an incredible job sharing their behind the scenes tips and techniques with the community—from how to preserve rich colors in VR film to open sourcing the Unreal Engine project and assets for Henry—and we’ll continue to make this information available to developers.

Rubin said that Oculus will now work to "inspire creators across all mediums and genres—filmmakers, musicians, painters, writers, cartoonists, and more—to bring their VR ideas to life." The company will also financially support those endeavors: Rubin said that Oculus will "carve out" $50 million to "exclusively fund non-gaming, experiential VR content" from its $250 million financial commitment to fund VR development of all categories.

"We’re now entering the next chapter of VR development, where new creators enter the market in anticipation of adoption and growth, and we’ve been looking at the best way to allocate our resources to create an impact on the ecosystem," Rubin said. "After careful consideration, we’ve decided to shift our focus away from internal content creation to support more external production."

Oculus Story Studio released its first short film, Lost, in 2015. The Emmy Award winning Henry followed in 2016, and the studio's latest work, Dear Angelica, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Rubin didn't say in his blog post if the Story Studio team members, which includes animators and directors from Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, and others, will remain at the company following the division's "winding down."

  • SockPuppet
    Maybe if Vive owners (of which there are over twice as many as Oculus owners) weren't treated like pox-riddled outcasts, maybe we'd be buying your software and you wouldn't have to do this. But you're determined to have your own storefront and pay developers for disgusting "exclusivity" deals and anything else you can do to keep out the bigger audience. I am EXTREMELY disappointed in Oculus and how they've attempted to fragment and destroy the nascent VR industry for their own monetary gains. Disgusting behaviour and I hope Oculus goes under for it.
    Reply
  • thor220
    For god's sake, just make an openVR standard already. I don't want this cool tech to die because everyone was playing exclusives.
    Reply
  • computerguy72
    OVR certainly made a rash of mistakes rapid fire. They could make a come back if they just combined a new open initiative of some sort with some new hardware their hardcore fans can get behind. They should then reprice the existing CV1 (or a slightly improved cv1 ala the cv1a or something) headset as low as they can stomach. They need a real strategic thinker in there.
    Reply
  • Danny_112
    This VR thing, will go the same way the 3D craze went.
    A couple years, and then it's going to go belly up!!!
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    19650514 said:
    This VR thing, will go the same way the 3D craze went.
    A couple years, and then it's going to go belly up!!!

    I'm really kind of afraid you're right. I really want VR to take off, but it has two problems that have killed previous technologies. First, what killed 3D is that people just don't want to wear bulky stuff on their faces. Wearing bulky stuff will never be as comfortable as not wearing bulky stuff, so people don't want it, so that's already a huge hurdle to overcome. Secondly, ever since motion controls were invented, the Wii (U), Sony's thing, the Kinect, etc, everyone's always said that motion controls are just ass, and they've never taken off because yeah, they are kind of ass, and precious few games ever figured out how to implement them properly, compared to just button presses.

    And, well, it's those assy controls no one likes and the bulky face-gear that no one wants that are at the heart of VR. Don't get me wrong, I reeeeeally want VR to take off and become mainstream. But it's already got enough to overcome without all this exclusivity nonsense, as well.
    Reply
  • Antonio_34
    Considering that VR isn't "VR" at all and it's 3d and it's been tried and done since the 1970's, it's NO surprise that it's failing yet again.

    A bigger joke yet is room scale VR. seriously, to make it work you need to create the room you see in VS, but in the RL and then walk around with an HMD on and interact with the room. WTF is the point.

    Putting on visors is cool, for one person, the user. For everyone else it's a complete waste of time.
    Reply
  • Antonio_34
    I can really only see VR working for flight games/space sims as it's most important to be able to use your head to steer your vision adequately.
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    19651380 said:
    I can really only see VR working for flight games/space sims as it's most important to be able to use your head to steer your vision adequately.

    Racing games, dude, I yearn for a VR cockpit with a steering wheel and pedals, etc. That would be so bloody fun. And maybe I can sell my wife on it if I tell her we can use it for teaching our eventual kids how to drive one day. lol
    Reply
  • uglyduckling81
    The Vive is amazing. It's nothing like 3d craze of a few years ago. It completely changes the gaming experience. Exclusive content and expensive buy in is the main thing that is holding VR back.
    When we can get the wireless option later this year it will be a complete package. I have it set up in my double garage which gives me a 5mx7m play area. The cord stops me from using it all at the moment.
    Arizona Sunshine is the best FPS game I've ever played not because it's the best game but because it's a good game in VR.
    I still think strategy games are going to be amazing in VR, You are the gods view. Use your hands to make men move. I can't wait for someone to realise that potential and make it happen. Think Supreme Commander with the controls of Final Approach.
    Reply
  • HavocX
    Exclusive content is helping VR much more than it is hindering it.
    Reply