Oculus Buys Startup RakNet Ahead of Facebook Deal Close

Oculus VR Inc., the virtual-reality company that Facebook Inc. agreed to buy for about $2 billion earlier this year, acquired software startup RakNet to make it easier to add features like chatting to video games.

RakNet, owned by Jenkins Software LLC and based in Costa Mesa, California, makes a game-networking engine that is now open source, or available to anyone who wants to use it, Oculus said today on its blog. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

RakNet is Oculus’s second acquisition in three weeks as it invests in its products before joining Facebook. Last month, the Irvine, California-based company also agreed to buy Carbon Design Group, which has worked on products such as Microsoft Corp’s Xbox 360 controller.

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has said that virtual reality will be the next form of social computing, after mobile phones. RakNet, which helps game players communicate with one another through computer servers, will help Oculus get closer to that vision. Oculus aims to eventually help people experience events together, instead of just playing games individually.

Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe has said it’s important for the company to be at the center of virtual-reality software development, the same way that Google Inc.’s Android is for many different types of phones. He is looking for partners to help with manufacturing hardware, he said last month.

RakNet already works with game developers including Unity, Havok, Mojang, Maxis and Sony Online Entertainment, Oculus said in the blog post.