If you think Facebook will get rich on Oculus, you better be patient. Mark Zuckerberg said on the Q1 2016 earnings call he sees VR as a long, long-term bet rather than a way to make a quick buck on 3D games. “This is early and it’s going to take a long time. There’s a lot of hype around this.” He explained that while VR, like AI and Internet connectivity are “important to our mission of connecting the world,” they may not pay out for years to come.
Meanwhile, Facebook CFO David Wehner gut-checked analysts, saying “VR will not have a material impact on revenue in 2016.” They’ll have to wait for Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus to pay itself back.
For the first few years, Zuckerberg believes gaming and video will be where money gets made on VR, judging by the huge console and PC gaming business. For example, today Oculus released a $6.99 virtual reality version of Minecraft.
Oculus could eventually earn profits from selling headsets, peripherals, games and video content, as well as charging a tax on developers whose apps it sells. But first, Oculus will need greater demand and a bigger install base. Until then, it’s more of an experimental foray into the next computing platform than a cash cow.