Facebook Mothballs Virtual Reality Studio

Facebook Inc. (FB) is shutting down the Oculus Story Studio, its in-house studio launched two years ago to produce virtual reality content for the Oculus VR headset. The move is part of the company’s focus on supporting external VR content makers.

The Oculus Story Studio has created a series of VR short films, including “Lost,” “Henry,” and “Dear Angelica.” “Henry,” the story of a hedgehog’s birthday party, won an Emmy for original interactive program last year.

“After careful consideration, we’ve decided to shift our focus away from internal content creation to support more external production. As part of that shift, we’ll be winding down Story Studio,” Jason Rubin, Oculus vice president of content, said in a blog post.

Oculus stressed that the closure of the studio did not mean it planned to abandon movies and films made for VR.

“We’re still absolutely committed to growing the VR film and creative content ecosystem,” Rubin said.

Oculus said that the focus on supporting the growing number of film makers and developers creating VR art will also help the company turn its internal research, development, and attention towards “exciting but unsolved problems in AR and VR hardware and software.”

Last year, Oculus committed $250 million to fund VR content from developers all over the world. The company noted that the investment supported games like “Robo Recall,” “Rock Band VR,” and “Wilson’s Heart.”

Oculus said that $50 million of the financial commitment will now be used to exclusively fund non-gaming, experiential VR content. The money will go directly to artists to help jumpstart the most innovative and groundbreaking VR ideas, according to the company.

Nevertheless, the closure of the studio comes soon after Oculus founder Palmer Luckey left the company in March.

In early February, Facebook and its co-defendants were ordered to pay $500 million to ZeniMax Media Inc. after a jury found that the Oculus unfairly used ZeniMax’s copyrighted software code to build a…

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