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.
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.
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.”