Facebook has bought the pioneering virtual reality company Oculus for $2 billion.
The social network bought the VR gaming company for $400 million in cash and 23.1 million Facebook shares.
The purchase represents a massive move into gaming for Mark Zuckerberg's company, and a huge step for virtual reality - though possibly not for a consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset.
Oculus was formed after a wildly popular Kickstarter campaign was launched to raise funds for a new type of VR headset. The Kickstarter was looking for $250,000. It raised more than $2 million - and now the company is worth 1000 times even that.
The subsequent product has only emerged in a 'beta' form for developers, but has proved to be a huge hit with critics.
Virtual reality is now widely seen as a critical future battleground in all forms of gaming, with Sony announcing its own headset - Project Morpheus - last week at GDC.
READ MORE: What It's Like To Wear Oculus Rift
Facebook said virtual reality was the "platform of tomorrow".
“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe added: “We are excited to work with Mark and the Facebook team to deliver the very best virtual reality platform in the world.
“We believe virtual reality will be heavily defined by social experiences that connect people in magical, new ways. It is a transformative and disruptive technology, that enables the world to experience the impossible, and it’s only just the beginning.”
Mark Zuckerberg's full statement was:
Not everyone was thrilled with the news, however - especially not for the potential impact it might make on the chances of a consumer Oculus Rift ever reaching the market:
Imagine FB as a place u could walk around in like 2nd Life but it was all your aunts and cousins holding banners with Upworthy headlines on
— Sam Kieldsen (@samkieldsen) March 25, 2014
Oculus Rift is going to be renamed the Facehugger
— T.C. (@LaughingStoic) March 25, 2014
— Keith Rarick (@krarick) March 25, 2014
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