Facebook acquires Seattle virtual reality gaming company BigBox VR, creators of Population: One

Big Box VR co-founders Chia Chin Lee (left) and Gabe Brown. (Photo by GeekWire / Taylor Soper)

Seattle startup company BigBox VR, the company behind the multiplayer virtual reality game POPULATION: ONE, has been acquired by Facebook.

Facebook was attracted to BigBox because of its popularityand of POP: ONE, which has been one of the best performing titles on the Oculus platform since it launched last year and amassed $ 10 million in revenue in just a few months. Facebook and its virtual reality-focused subsidiary Oculus want to help BigBox accelerate its vision of the game as well as other projects.

“We continue to invest in content that promotes social connection and we believe POP: ONE offers this experience to the virtual reality community in spikes within a very fun gaming experience, ”wrote Mike Verdu, vice president of content for Facebook Reality Labs, in a blog post.

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

This is the third Facebook acquisition of a Seattle-based company (others include Rel8tion (2011) and Atlas Solutions (2013)) and represents another virtual reality study by the tech giant, which adds to the your purchases from Downpour Interactive, Ready at Dawn, Sanzaru. Games and Beat Games.

Facebook already has a large presence in the Seattle area with over 7,000 employees. It has two Facebook Reality Labs offices in the region.

Founded in 2016, BigBox is led by co-founders Chia Chin Lee, a gaming industry veterinarian who led teams at Sony and Disney, and Gabe Brown, who met Chin Lee while the two were building a popular Facebook game: Marvel: Avengers Alliance – at the Disney Seattle area gaming studio.

POP: ONE borrows mechanisms from popular Battle Royale games, such as Fortnite or PlayerUnknown battlefields which have been immensely popular among PC and console gamers in recent years. It’s unique in that the game is designed for virtual reality, allowing players to climb, fly and shoot as if they were actually doing it in real life.

Previously, BigBox had a partnership with Oculus Studios. It plans to continue to support non-Oculus platforms, including SteamVR headphones like HTC Vive and Valve Index, and POP: ONE will receive regular updates, according to a blog post.

“We are fully focused on this POPULATION: ONE! We have a lot planned, but we are not yet ready to share details, ”says the blog post.

According to LinkedIn, BigBox has about 30 employees. The entire team will join Oculus Studios, including the founders.

“BigBox VR may be small, but it’s a powerful and agile team of gaming industry veterinarians who perfectly nail the duality of crafting and data-based live service game development,” Verdu wrote in his message.

The company raised an investment round, which earned $ 5 million three years ago in an initial round led by Bay Area venture capital firm Shasta Ventures, which included the participation of GSR Ventures and PSL Ventures.

“We made a first bet on two amazing founders of Chia Chin and Gabe attacking a space where they had great vision and a lot of experience in the domain,” said Greg Gottesman, CEO of PSL Ventures. “They built an experience in Population: UN that breaks your socks from the first moment. This sale was an exceptional result for the team, the investors and everyone involved. “

The first BigBox title was Smashbox Arena, a team-based RV action game that was once described as the “Counter-Strike Meet Mario Kart” experience. It served as a test to see how online multiplayer would work in virtual reality.

Virtual and augmented reality has not yet reached the mainstream, as some of the big tech companies like Facebook and Apple continue to invest in this technology and investors continue to bet.

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