Tuesday, May 9, 2017

VR Content Creation Moves to the Next Phase: Facebook Closes Oculus Story Studio

Beautiful, Creative Tools for Everyone

Many of you will have already seen this blog post by Jason Rubin, revealing that Facebook will be closing Oculus Story Studio. Story Studio has created well-regarded narrative VR content including the Emmy Award winning Henry, as well as creating the Quill VR creative platform.

While the timing of the announcement was surprising, the fact that Facebook isn't an original content studio and doesn't want to get into that business, should not be a surprise. The consensus of how the VR market will develop is that it must hit a critical mass of users, gear and content for it to be sustainable. The initial phase of content generation needed to come from the companies that make hardware and platforms, to showcase what is possible and generate interest.  Facebook decided that it was time to focus on the next phase: supporting third-party content creators financially and technically.

Facebook, like Google, is a data company. The timeline that they're on is aggressive, but again, Facebook pushing the envelope shouldn't really be surprising either.  Even though their actions are predictable from a business perspective, it must be disruptive personally for the crack Story Studio team. With that as a given, it is also a note of optimism for the VR ecosystem, that Facebook feels the community is strong enough and creative enough to pick up the ball.

What I am most worried about is the fate of Quill.  It appears that there will be no new updates to it, but there is a possibility that Oculus may open the source code to developers. Let's hope that this innovative tool doesn't wither away.