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Facebook Buys Its Third VR Studio, ‘Lone Echo’ Developer Ready at Dawn

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Facebook announced today that it has acquired Ready at Dawn, marking the company’s third VR studio buyout. The 17-year-old game studio is most recently known for its acclaimed VR titles, Lone Echo and Echo VR, both published by Facebook’s Oculus Studios. Ready at Dawn’s next VR title, Lone Echo II is due to launch later this year.

Following the acquisitions of VR game Beat Games (makers of Beat Saber) and Sanzaru Games (makers of Asgard’s Wrath and others), Facebook has picked up yet another high profile VR studio, Ready at Dawn. The terms of the acquisition were not announced, but Facebook confirmed in its announcement that “the entire Ready At Dawn team will be joining the Oculus Studios team [Facebook’s VR publishing arm] .”

Ready at Dawn CEO Ru Weerasuriya said today on Twitter that the acquisition marks “a new chapter” for the studio.

“Nearly 17 years ago, we embarked on a journey to build a game studio. Along the way, we innovated on genres, experiences, games and platforms. Today, we’re excited to join the Facebook family as we open a new chapter in our story and continue to pursue our passions,” he wrote.

The company’s first Oculus-exclusive VR title, Lone Echo (2017), is one of the best-rated games in the company’s PC VR library. The game’s multiplayer spin-off Echo VR (2017) has remained a mainstay of multiplayer VR gaming on Oculus’ platform, right up to the recent release of Echo VR beta on Oculus Quest.

Facebook’s VP of VR & AR, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, echoed the sentiment on Twitter, and gave a strong indication that the studio will continue to focus specifically on VR content.

“Ready At Dawn is a veteran game developer, having shipped games to multiple platforms in the past, and a VR pioneer. Excited for the team to join Facebook to help us pursue a future of rich, immersive, and groundbreaking VR content.”

Ready at Dawn has been in the development of Lone Echo II since at least 2018. The game was due to launch in 2019 but has seen several delays, most recently due to Coronavirus, which has pushed the release date into the second half of 2020.

In a 2018 interview with Road to VR, CEO Ru Weerasuriya, said that the studio wanted to continue to break new ground in the VR medium.

“I think VR is an amazing medium purely because we’re learned so much in the last three years of being in VR that we can’t see ourselves kind of detaching from it, because we’d lose part of who we’ve become as a studio,” said Weerasuriya.

“We’re currently exploring a lot of ideas that would guide things that we haven’t seen in VR. In the future, we hope to actually address certain things that we see today that we take for granted maybe that is not possible in VR, but we’re very much looking into breaking those boundaries and seeing how we can do things that are not being done yet, and kind of move the medium forward.”

Facebook Now Owns Three VR Game Studios

The acquisition of Ready at Dawn is the third VR studio to come under Facebook’s control. As with both Beat Games and Sanzaru Games—which had developed some of the most acclaimed VR content in Oculus’ game library—the buyout of Ready at Dawn feels partly defensive; as Facebook’s Oculus Studios had published all of Ready at Dawn’s VR titles to date (and in doing so, helped the studio build years of VR game development experience), it would be risky to let the studio fall into the hands of competitors.

That happened last year when Sony snatched up Insomniac Games, a veteran VR studio which had developed four Oculus Studios titles, along with many non-VR titles (like the PlayStation hit, Marvel’s Spider-Man).

And then there’s Microsoft which—despite not currently having plans for VR on Xbox—has picked up a considerable amount of VR talent during its studio shopping spree of the last few years.

Beyond a defensive move, the purchase of Ready at Dawn is almost certain to result in the studio’s next title being its first to support Oculus Quest, as Facebook has been focusing heavily on ensuring that new Oculus Studios titles prioritize support for Quest.

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