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

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

The Seattle startup BigBox VR, the company behind the multiplayer virtual reality game POPULATION: ONE, was taken over by Facebook.

Facebook was attracted to BigBox due to the popularity of POP: ONE, which has been one of the top performing titles on the Oculus platform since its launch last year and has had $ 10 million in revenue in just a few months. Facebook and its VR-focused subsidiary Oculus plan to help BigBox accelerate its vision for the game and other projects as well.

“We continue to invest in content that fosters social connections, and we believe POP: ONE will bring that experience in abundance to the VR community in one super fun gaming experience,” wrote Mike Verdu, vice president of content at Facebook Reality Labs. in a blog post.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is Facebook’s third acquisition of a Seattle-area company – Rel8tion (2011) and Atlas Solutions (2013) – and represents another VR studio acquired by the tech giant and its purchases from Downpour Interactive, Ready at Dawn, Sanzaru. complements games and beat games.

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

Super excited to shape the future of VR + Social + Games! https://t.co/xNx1UwFYEw

– Chia Chin Lee (@chiachinlee) June 11, 2021

Founded in 2016, BigBox is led by co-founders Chia Chin Lee, a game 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 Disney’s game studio in Seattle.

POP: ONE borrows mechanics from popular battle royale games like Fortnite or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which have been very popular with PC and console gamers in recent years. It’s unique in that the game is designed for virtual reality and allows players to climb, fly and shoot as if they were actually doing it in real life.

BigBox previously partnered with Oculus Studios. There are plans to continue supporting non-Oculus platforms, including SteamVR headsets like HTC Vive and Valve Index, and POP: ONE will receive regular updates, according to a blog post.

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

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

“BigBox VR may be small, but they are a powerful, nimble team of game industry veterinarians who seamlessly get to the heart of the duality of game development between craft and data-driven live service,” Verdu wrote in his post.

The company raised an investment round and raised $ 5 million in a seed round three years ago led by Bay Area venture capital firm Shasta Ventures, which also included GSR Ventures and PSL Ventures.

“We bet early on two incredible founders in Chia Chin and Gabe who attacked a room where they had great vision and domain experience,” said Greg Gottesman, managing director at PSL Ventures. “In Population: ONE you have built an experience that will knock your socks off from the first moment. This sale was an extraordinary result for the team, the investors and everyone involved. “

BigBox’s first title was Smashbox Arena, a team-based action VR game that was once described as a “Counter-Strike meets Mario Kart” experience. It served as a kind of test to see how online multiplayer would work in virtual reality.

Virtual and augmented reality have not yet hit the mainstream as predicted by some, but big tech companies like Facebook and Apple continue to invest in the technology, and investors keep betting.

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