Oculus announced it’s shutting down movie rentals and purchases through its Oculus Rift video app, effective today.

According to a statement emailed to Rift users, Oculus says they’ll be reimbursing customers who purchased videos in the past through the Oculus Video app on Rift. Customers will have access to their purchased videos until November 20th, after which the company says users “will no longer be able to access any purchased or rented movies through Oculus Video, but you can continue to watch video and streams from other sources, such as Facebook 360.”

Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR will still have access to video on demand, including purchases and rentals, as the company firmly maintains its mobile headsets are primarily for media consumption, and not gaming like on Rift.

Image courtesy Oculus

Here’s Oculus’ reasoning behind the move, as emailed to users:

“Over the years, we’ve seen how people use VR for everything from gaming to movies, and it’s become clear that while people love to stream immersive media on other devices, Rift is used primarily for gaming. These insights inform how we support new and existing features and apps across the platform.”

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As an open platform with access to third-party apps, it’s clear why paid video on demand wasn’t nearly as profitable as the company would have hoped. Rift users can already watch streaming services such as Netflix in apps like BigScreen or Virtual Desktop, and view their own local content through Oculus Video, which can be obtained from elsewhere easily enough.

The move comes in concert with the news that Oculus co-founder and former CEO Brendan Iribe is stepping down from his position as head of PC VR at Facebook, and leaving the company entirely.

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  • Raphael

    I use my Vive for movies, games and serious. I watch movies in a giant virtual cinema using VLC or MPC as the video player.

  • Trenix

    Well look at that, VR is primary used for gaming. I drew to that conclusion months ago and the road to VR community disagreed. Least one company understands what VR should be used for. VR will not replace computers anytime soon. Movies in VR, just a stupid idea, at least for quite a few more years. I could of told you that.

    • Bryan Ischo

      Oh Trenix, speaker of the one truth that all should hear and obey — please tell us what else to think now. Your most recent astute prediction has come true (who ever would have thought VR was primarily used for gaming — that was an insanely good call there Mr. Prophetic!) and now we are left without any clear guidance on what to believe anymore. Your words are needed now more than ever!

      • CURTROCK

        And that, folks, is a MASTER CLASS of seething sarcasm. Bravo! As a connoisseur of sarcasm, I salute you! :)

        • Kenny Young

          Read for FILTH.

      • Trenix

        You know who knew VR was primarily used for gaming? Me. Only me. Your welcome.

        • MosBen

          Watch out, everyone. He has a 4.0 in business school, and knows about capitalism. He won’t tell you anything about either, but boy will he insist that it’s true. And now he’s asserted that only he knew that VR was primarily used for gaming, so you know he’s legit.

          • Trenix

            So true.

          • MosBen

            And to think, you were able to read the tea leaves months ago to determine that the Rift was primarily used for gaming, while everyone else thought that it was primarily used for word processing. Truly, you know about business and capitalism.

          • Trenix

            You thirsty?

          • MosBen

            You know what you’re asking, right? It’s…an off way to go.

          • Trenix

            You still talking?

    • jj

      no movies in vr are awesome… you’re just bias it looks like. seriously i LOOOOVEEE movies in vr. The Dark Night will make your stomach drop in a good way, its so epic

    • impurekind

      Well, I think those other things are cool too, but yeah, I use my Rift for 99% gaming.

    • Sandy Wich

      The idea of going to a virtual movie theater with your friends from across the world and hang out together is amazing.

      • Trenix

        It’ll be amazing in a decade.

  • Lucidfeuer

    I use mobile VR primarily for movies…but then there’s Skybox, Netflix and so on…

  • Firestorm185

    I honestly didn’t even know you could rent movies in that app.

  • FriendlyCard

    As a Rift owner and enthusiast, I never even knew they had a Movie service!

  • JesuSaveSouls

    It was so cool watching judge dredd in 3d.

    • jj

      my favorite was the Dark Knight! some of the scenes where batman jumps over the ledge and flies down will make ur stomach drop in vr

    • impurekind

      You know what the best movies I have seen in VR are:

      The Lion King 3D
      Beauty and the Beast 3D
      The Spongebob Squarepants Movie (but only the hand drawn parts)

      It’s crazy but the very best stereoscopic 3D movies I have seen are actually simple 2D hand drawn movies with the stereoscopic effect applied to them, and in the case of those first two on my list, they were never originally even made or intended to be displayed in 3D at all.

      Seriously, check them out if you get the chance, because something about the cleanness of the lines and stuff in these hand drawn animations just makes the stereoscopic 3D really pop.

  • VR4EVER

    I use my GO to 85% for Movies on Skybox and Netflix. The video-App was utter crap with no way to alter the settings in a meaningful way. On top of that, the screenborders had ugly aliasing and the viewing position was not at center but on the bottom of the screen….

    • Billy Wallace

      Palmer lied that Facebook money would solve everything. That is his claim why he lied about the open source dk1 promise. Dummies believed his lies. Facebook money couldnt achieve what smaller passionate groups achieved. I have also heard it rumored the zenimax case is what has caused this shutdown to the PC side of oculus. palmer, carmack, iribe, Nate shouldn’t have been lying thieves, what’s next to be removed,refunded from rift users?

  • A VR Enthusiast

    Dear Oculus,

    Hear me!

    Movie rentals and purchases still should have been an option for Rift users. Even though Rift is used primarily for gaming (Oculus’ reasoning behind the move), it is not a good approach to limit movie rentals and purchases to only Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR (even though Rift users have alternatives).

    It is an philosophical approach.

    Rift users should be able to do whatever Go and Quest user can do. You should not limit Rift users in any way.

    Thank you.

    • impurekind

      And the exact same thing goes for the recent 5K videos too. There’s no good reason at all that I can see to not have these 5K versions of stuff like Henry and Jurassic Park: Blue on the Rift too. And even in the case of Henry, where there’s a realtime 3D version on the Rift, I still think having these videos available as a showcase of the best 360 videos we have in VR right now is a good thing. So get them on the Rift already, Oculus!

      • A VR Enthusiast

        You are absolutely right.

    • MosBen

      The problem is that maintaining a software platform costs time and money. If hardly anybody is using a feature, then it doesn’t justify the cost of paying people to work on it.

      • A VR Enthusiast

        That’s obvious, but sometimes, you need to pay in advance. Think of it as an investment to make your installed base larger.

        • MosBen

          Well, except that they did that for a while and evidently not enough people were using it to justify the continued cost of maintaining it. Who knows, if they suddenly start selling millions of Rifts and people become more interested in watching movies on them, maybe they’ll decide to bring it back. But for now it’s just a feature that isn’t worth maintaining.

  • mirak

    I would use any headset with a decent resolution to watch movies.
    In the train I use the GearVR with Galaxy S8+.
    That’s still better immersion than on a tablet or a laptop.

  • impurekind

    Oculus failed to make it obvious this was even a thing of Rift in the first place.

  • sebrk

    I didn’t know that even existed. Well I guess it was a probe of sorts. Nobody could ever have thought that this was going to pay off. Also Netflix and Plex and more have been available on the better-screen and handsfree-brother device Oculus Go (similar stuff available for the Rift).

  • Rion

    Good decision. Movie watching on rift is god-Ray city. Using a gear vr with non fresnel lenses is a huge improvement. Not tried this with the new go tho so not sure how that stacks up.

  • This is great news! It means that Oculus is figuring out they can’t be everything to everyone. This is an important lesson for any company or person to learn. Creating a great platform for ongoing 3rd-party Innovation, while delivering their own Facebook brand apps for SocialVR is where they now are and should be focused.