Facebook has reportedly signed an exclusive deal to put Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed games on its Oculus virtual reality headsets. The Information reported the news this morning, although it didn’t offer much detail about what those games would look like. The titles are apparently part of a larger push to acquire studios and back exclusive games, something Oculus has been doing on a smaller scale for some time.
Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed owner Ubisoft has published several VR games, including the Oculus Rift launch exclusive Eagle Flight and the cooperative game Star Trek: Bridge Crew. It’s also released a couple of Assassin’s Creed-based “VR escape rooms,” but they’re only available at specific locations, not on home VR headsets.
Exclusive games are already a major selling point of Oculus’ Rift and Quest headsets. Ratchet & Clank studio Insomniac Games has released several Rift titles, and it’s working on the upcoming open-world Rift game Stormland. Often, however, these games aren’t part of established franchises. They’re original projects from smaller teams that need backing from a company like Oculus. Some games based on big media properties, like Blade Runner, have been short and lightly interactive experiences.
Oculus competitor Sony has pursued a similar exclusivity strategy. And Sony’s ties to the gaming industry have earned it timed or permanent PlayStation VR exclusives on some big franchise games like Skyrim VR as well as titles from prominent developers like From Software, the creator of Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Valve’s SteamVR platform is also poised to get some exclusive Valve games, potentially based on the Half-Life, Portal, or Left 4 Dead series. (You can still generally play SteamVR games on an Oculus Rift, though.)
As The Information notes, Facebook is moving more broadly into gaming, recently naming former Oculus content VP Jason Rubin as the head of “special gaming initiatives.” It’s an area where Facebook faces less antitrust and privacy criticism, and the multiplayer game Fortnite has become a formidable competitor to Facebook’s main social network. However, today’s report didn’t include details about which companies (if any) Facebook might try to acquire or whether they’d be working on virtual reality, augmented reality, or traditional games.