Just a few months after the acquisition of Beat Saber studio Beat Games, Facebook today announced the acquisition of Sanzaru Games, the studio behind the Oculus-exclusive Asgard’s Wrath and a handful of other VR titles. Sanzaru will join Facebook’s VR game division, Oculus Studios, but continue to be run as an “independently operated studio.”

As far as VR studios go, Sanzaru Games is one of the most veteran you’ll find. The studio began working with Facebook’s Oculus before the company even shipped its first consumer headset. Sanzaru’s first VR title was Ripcoil (2016), built as an Oculus Rift launch title back before the headset was bundled with its ‘Touch’ motion controllers.

Sanzaru continued to build Oculus-exclusive titles published by Oculus Studios; there was VR Sports Challenge (2016), a Touch launch title, followed by Sanzaru’s first major production, Marvel Powers United VR (2018). The studio’s crowning achievement, so far, is Asgard’s Wrath (2019), a VR RPG which received wide acclaim, including our 2019 Game of the Year Award.

'Asgard's Wrath' Behind-the-scenes – Insights & Artwork from Sanzaru Games and Oculus Studios

Over the years, and thanks in large part to development deals from Oculus Studios, Sanzaru Games has honed its talents as a VR developer, one of only a handful of independent studios which has proven it can successfully deliver a project with the scope of Asgard’s Wrath. With few studios equipped to work in VR at this scale, Sanzaru is a valuable asset for any company wanting to ensure the best VR content comes to their platform.

And that’s likely the primary reason behind Facebook’s acquisition of Sanzaru Games; after years of investing in large projects which have honed the studio’s VR chops, Oculus Studios doesn’t want to risk a competitor coming in and snatching up all that talent for their own platform-exclusive content (much like what happened with Stormland developer Insomniac Games, which was acquired by Sony last year).

Before VR, Sanzaru has worked on a handful of non-VR games dating back to 2008. Going forward, the plan is to be fully focused on VR. Facebook didn’t announce the terms of the acquisition, but says that “Sanzaru is joining Facebook to help us pursue a future of rich, immersive, and original VR game content,” and maintains that the studio will be operated “independently” out of its existing offices.

Xbox Game Studios Has (inadvertently?) Acquired Heaps of VR Development Talent

Facebook says it isn’t ready to talk about what projects are next on the docket for Sanzaru, nor whether they will focus on Quest, Rift, or both, but it seems certain from here on out that future VR games from Sanzaru will continue to be Oculus-exclusive.

Are there more VR studio acquisitions to come? Facebook won’t say for now, but teases, “we’re exploring many ways to accelerate VR, and 2020 is going to be an incredible year for VR game launches and announcements. We are thrilled to have Sanzaru joining our team. This is just one of the many amazing VR announcements we have in store this year.”

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Alextended

    They should set up a new studio for those affected to make a new IP:

    Great loss for VR if true, the game even seemed to do pretty well, on par with more mainstream/casual stuff like Pistol Whip, a Quest port was expected (which has 3x the user reviews than it does on Steam in Pistol Whip’s case so it would certainly bring in more money), they had plans for more language translations, patches and content…

    • Jo K.

      Im glad this seems to be fake:

      “After speaking with Skydance in there discord. They have stated this is a false post and stand behind that no one was laid off. and PR team are organizing. So this post is false. if it’s not post proof.”


      • Alextended

        Hope that’s true but it’s not something they’d openly admit. It does seem quite unlikely given the game’s performance and planned future. Perhaps some disgruntled contractors who didn’t have their contract renewed after the game was finished made the claim without going into details.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          It’s also possible they weren’t laid off… But their contract just ended as the project was done.. That’s a big difference..

          • Alextended

            I already said that butterfly, that maybe the “tip” was given by some disgruntled contractors and the tweeter account ran with it.

        • JakeDunnegan

          Why wouldn’t they admit to being laid off??? What earthly reason could they have not to let people know that they’d need a job?

          • Alextended

            Huh? The tweet I commented on says they asked Skydance and they denied it. Not the subsidiary Skydance Interactive. And the original tweet doesn’t even say all of Skydance Interactive was laid off, but the game’s core team. I have no idea how much more additional staff would be there and if those affected would be allowed to stay in the discord that person went to ask, or if they were there to begin with, maybe just PR staff hangs out there.

  • Lulu Vi Britannia

    So, this could be good, but maybe they should try and find partnerships with bigger companies instead of buying studios that already stepped in VR? The indie side of the market is already packed full in VR, now we need big names to release big titles…

  • nishanth12

    My only problem is their optimization of games. TWD is better looking and runs much better. Hire optimization experts please.

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