Facebook today announced its fifth VR studio acquisition. This time it’s BigBox VR, the studio behind the popular VR battle royale POPULATION: ONE which launched just last year on PC VR and Quest, and has consistently ranked among Quest’s most popular titles.

Facebook announced the acquisition today on the Oculus blog, saying that Population: One has “consistently ranked as one the top-performing titles on the Oculus platform.” Indeed, we’ve seen the game rank among the most popular titles by ratings in our regular check on Quest app rankings.

As with prior studio acquisitions, Facebook positions the move as an effort to accelerate the studio’s work while aiming to leave its culture in tact.

“We’re excited to help BigBox VR grow and accelerate their vision for POPULATION: ONE as a state-of-the-art VR social gaming experience, as well as pursue future projects, with access to the resources and support of Facebook and Oculus Studios,” the company writes. “All while maintaining the team’s creativity, disciplined methodology, and commitment to community. Welcome to the family!”

Population: One is not only available on Quest however, it’s also on PC VR platforms and offers cross-play between them. Which of course makes players wonder whether or not the game will continue to be supported on non-Oculus platforms. Similar to its other VR studio acquisitions, Facebook is promising that Population: One will continue to see equal support no matter which platform it’s on.

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While BigBox VR is now best known for Population: One, the studio was an early mover in VR, having launched the multiplayer VR shooter Smashbox Arena back in 2016.

Today’s acquisition marks the fifth VR studio that Facebook has bought, seemingly in an effort to have greater control over the destiny of killer VR apps and the talent behind them. Facebook has also acquired Beat Games (Beat Saber), Sanzaru Games (Asgard’s Wrath and others), Ready at Dawn (Lone Echo and others), Downpour Interactive (Onward), and now BigBox VR, all within nearly a year and a half.

The major theme in all of these acquisitions is, of course, multiplayer. Naturally, the social media giant sees social VR as a key pillar of its VR efforts.

“We continue to invest in content that fosters social connection, and we believe POP: ONE delivers this experience to the VR community in spades within a super fun gaming experience,” the company said about today’s acquisition.

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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."
  • Jeff Axline


    • Adel O

      cool it off…

  • sfmike

    Not sure this is good news, except financially for the heads of Big Box and not ot’s employees. I NEVER believe the BS statements that the takeover entity plans to “accelerate the studio’s work while aiming to leave its culture in tact.” It’s all about about cutting corners and increasing profits.

    • Yes, but they’ll do that down the road. As with Oculus, Facebook changed it gradually, not immediately

      • Kristie Salinas

        I am earning 85 dollars hourly for freelancing at home.^gr367^ I never thought I’d be able to do it but my good friend earns $18000 every month working this job and she told me about it. It’s a great opportunity for anyone… >>> https://meumessage.com/J05PWVz

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Well, if the development team gets more budget due to the company being taken over, it’s a good thing for the team.

  • Ad

    Vomit. Look at the early builds of this game when it was going to be a PC title built for 3000 cards. Either way, Facebook is clear about how it sees VR. Every dev is just auditioning to work at Facebook.

    • sfmike

      Maybe that’s good since we can’t get 3000 cards.

  • xyzs

    Facebook and the Oculus store, it’s like Harvey Weinstein and the castings…

  • Compliments to BigBox VR, but I am a bit concerned of these acquisitions of all the best VR talents..

    • Wild Dog

      As you should be, facebook’s trying to starve the other marketplaces of interest.

  • TechPassion

    Would you like HTC to lead VR?

    • FrankB

      is Sony not interested in VR?

      • TechPassion

        Yes, they are interested, but it is a limited experience for certain people who use consoles. Sony is not driving VR topic forward. Facebook does it right.

    • xyzs

      Valve shown no interest in VR. That’s a fact… They just made Alyx and the Index and steamVR and more…

    • Really? Valve seems to be doing good. Sony and PSVR 2 will do good as well, I’m sure.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Except Valve isn’t doing anything to further mass adoption of VR, all they do is make some devices for some enthousiasts, and even Valve gets blasted by people here on the use for instance on LCD displays..
        Yeah, Sony is the other one who is actually moving VR into the masses with their PSVR (but ofcourse many people here spit on the hardware Sony is providing).

        • sebrk

          SteamVR as a platform is growing and adds new features all the time. Product development takes time. They are as far as I know making headsets as fast as they can sell them.

        • Valve built index as reference device; yes for developers and VR enthusiasts, no complaints here it’s been a blast.

          SteamVR is very accessible for independent developers, both on software and hardware side. Free enrollment to Steamworks gives free access to their SDK/HDK tools.

          Index has received regular software updates since launch. The new FOV and World scale adjustments are interesting to experiment with.

          Index is like hi-fi audio separates, not for mass market

          • Andrew Jakobs

            But it’s the products for mass market that actually drive VR forward. I just wished Valve would have worked with another major player to produce a ‘cheap’ headset. But still the biggest problems with most headsets are the lenses, still the ugly godray inducing lenses…

          • Totally agree. The enthusiast PCVR isn’t affordable nor particularly practical, and sometimes frustrating (an update can break something..)

        • brandon9271

          Valve is the reason many people use PC VR at all. Sure, their hardware is pricy but SteamVR being hardware agnostic is a BIG DEAL. It’s entirely possible to get a WMR headset for a few hundred bucks and never touch Oculus hardware or software at all.
          Hell, people were using cell phones amd RiftCat at one point. Maybe I’m I’m in the minority but myself and every PCVR user I know personal use WMR, Valve Index or HTC Vive exclusively. Sure, Oculus has cheap hardware subsidized by data mining.. but is that something to praise them for?

          • Andrew Jakobs

            I’ve added an edit to my original post, I was referring to the hardware side of Valve, not the software, which they are one of driving force for PC.

      • TechPassion

        Valve has good and EXPENSIVE VR goggles for expert users and 1 game. This is not what we are talking about here with Andrew.

        • 1 game + hundreds of other PC VR games.

    • wheeler

      It would have otherwise just grown slower. The reason FB is shoring this up with its billions in losses every year is because they *need* to dominate before the existing platforms–otherwise they lose by default. But by comparison that just makes everyone look like they “don’t believe in VR” or “aren’t doing enough”, when the truth is that they are simply doing what is reasonable given the state of the technology.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Oh please, Facebook isn’t losing billions over VR, it’s actually making a profit on the hardware in combination with it’s Oculus store (without the need for intrusive data gathering).

        • “Zuck has also candidly admitted that they are selling the Quest under cost and that they are replicating the console’s business model, selling the hardware undercost to sell more units, and then be able to recoup the money years later thanks to the sales of the software. Just to make you understand how much money this could mean, my reader Sir Gamedev has sent me a link where one of the previous Xbox executives has revealed that the initial undercost sales of the first Xbox units cost Microsoft between $5B and $7B. A decent budget for Microsoft and Facebook… but something impossible for companies like HTC or Magic Leap (do you remember when we all thought that $2.5B was a lot of money?). I think that in the end, Facebook, between AR and VR, will lose a similar amount of money.”


    • sebrk

      Simply not true. The VR ecosystem is gradually growing adding more products and users every day. Sure FB has a big stake in consumer level casual VR but that is only part where VR is being used.

    • mepy

      What’s wrong with HTC? HTC doesn’t violate peoples privacy through surveillance, they are preferable to Facebook-Oculus.

  • mepy

    This is an antitrust issue, Facebook is trying to monopolise the VR-market through buying out these game developer studios, they are already subsidising their hardware to kill off the hardware competition and now they are going after the software side of it even more aggressively than their OS limitions on the headset.

    • Blaexe

      “buying out game developer studios”, “subsidizing their hardware”, “OS limitation”.

      Sounds like a console. Like any console.

      It’s not facebooks fault that no other big player with the necessary money feels the need to compete.

      • Aeroflux

        Console gaming has been around for many decades. It’s an industry that has been relatively successful for a while. It is mature and stable.

        VR is a very different industry, still trying to gain momentum for the critical mass that stabilizes its market share into the foreseeable future of media consumption. It has not been stable for decades, and poison in the well is a very real threat with a history anyone can read about.

        In the midst of the this, Facebook is trying to stamp out development not included in its brand. There is plenty of evidence to this, so if you’re asking for it, you’re ignoring it.

        Oculus is nothing more than a name. The team has been disbanded, whoever is left has been folded into the hivemind that is Facebook Realities.

        We now know that requiring a Facebook account is a reality.

        Facebook Ads in VR are a reality.

        What’s next? What are you willing to give up for a cheaper headset? How far will Facebook push the boundaries of owning your identity? How far does it need to go before IOI starts looking like Facebook-lite?

        Sit right back and watch, because no matter what, we’re going to find out.

        • mepy

          Exactly. And first they will monopolise and build the user base, then comes the changes in the EULAs and new “services” that chip away at freedoms.

        • Blaexe

          That doesn’t take away from my main argument: It’s not facebooks fault that no other company (well, maybe besides Sony) cares and believes in VR. You want to Facebook to slow down just because there’s no competition.

          That doesn’t make much sense.

          Complain about Google, Microsoft, Valve, Apple, Samsung… not doing enough. That’s the problem here.

      • Wild Dog

        Consoles don’t rely on the PC library to stay afloat.

        • Blaexe

          Neither does Facebook. Quest is already bigger than all of PCVR and will only grow rapidly – and Quest is a console.

          • Wild Dog

            I somehow doubt the Quest would be nearly as successful if it hadn’t had the steam library as a backup in the beginning.

          • Blaexe

            You’re wrong though. Only a fraction of Quest users use it as PCVR headset. The vast majority uses it standalone.

          • Anonymous

            Exactly what Blaexe said.
            Seriously people.
            Do you want VR to grow faster, or do you prefer seeing it stagnate longer with no major funding just so that FB could fail because you don’t like it?

            Also look carefully at most novel technologies, competition always eventually finds a way to sprout as market matures. FB’s lead will resolve on its own.

          • Frozenbizkit

            I would rather have VR die again than give it all to Facebook.

          • Wild Dog

            Currently perhaps, but are you saying it didn’t need steamVR as a leg to stand on when it first came out?

          • Anonymous

            Lol what. Your data or just wishful imagination because evil FB made a right call?
            Quest games existed before Oculus Link and even before that, Quest games already sold well. Link accelerated the lead converting PCVR users, not caused it.

            COVID lockdown also played a role accelerating attention to VR especially to those who still cannot or choose not to buy a VR-ready PC.

            Road to VR has lots of such articles. Read them. Don’t stuck your head in sand.

          • Blaexe

            It absolutely didn’t. Quest sold because it was standalone. It didn’t even have PCVR support back then.

          • Wild Dog

            Oh. Guess I misremembered.

            Fine, point to your side.

    • Wild Dog

      God, I love it that other people are getting it. Thank you.

  • Tailgun

    Once again IOI continues it gradual and inexorable takeover of The Oasis.

    • MeowMix

      What Oasis ?

  • Wild Dog

    Oh, I can’t be as mad about this one. Was too casual for me.

  • Ted Joseph

    Facebook is one of the main drivers for VR… I have all of the Oculus headsets, and PSVR. I am a VR “believer”, but more into AR. Cant wait for AR to become mainstream. . .

    • kontis

      They you will wait at least 10-20 years as the technology to make barely usable decent AR is still in purely sci-fi fantasy realm.

  • ZarathustraDK

    “Facebook promises….”. Riiiight….