Social media giant Facebook has just made one of the biggest purchases of the year, acquiring Oculus VR for the hefty sale price of US$2 billion. 

The news broke yesterday (March 26) to much debate over whether the move was good news for the future of simulation, or the end of an era in which virtual reality was the domain of plucky underdogs and visionary dreamers. 

Posting to his own Facebook page, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dubbed virtual reality "a new communication platform" with many potential uses.

"Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together," wrote Mr Zuckerberg. 

However, long-time fans of Oculus VR have despaired over the decision, suggesting that the buyout would result in a more restricted development environment for the Oculus Rift headset.

There is also concern that Facebook's involvement with the Oculus Rift will result in an end product with greater emphasis on advertising and profits, and with fewer restrictions around privacy and information security. 

Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Lucky has sought to address these fears head-on, with a lengthy post on the Oculus subforum of popular entertainment and social networking service Reddit. 

"Partnering with Mark and the Facebook team is a unique and powerful opportunity. The partnership accelerates our vision, allows us to execute on some of our most creative ideas and take risks that were otherwise impossible," wrote Mr Lucky. 

"Most importantly, it means a better Oculus Rift with fewer compromises even faster than we anticipated."

Regardless of whether or not this announcement is good or bad news for the simulation technology industry, there is no denying that it is further proof of the commercial viability of virtual reality.

Earlier this month, Sony officially premiered a prototype virtual reality headset for the PlayStation games console. Reports have also emerged that Microsoft is working on similar technology.

Only time will tell whether Facebook's buyout of Oculus VR will prove a successful investment.  

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