A CES attendee plays the PlayStation VR Beat Saber game inside the Sony display area at CES International, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
INTERNATIONAL - Facebook Inc. is acquiring the studio behind Beat Saber, a popular virtual-reality game that mixes music, lightsabers and dancing into one experience, for an undisclosed price.

Beat Games will join Facebook’s Oculus gaming studio, the social-media company said Tuesday, and will operate independently out of its current base in Prague. The studio will continue to support and build out Beat Saber.

The acquisition gives Oculus ownership of one of the industry’s most popular games as it tries to expand VR to mainstream consumers -- a tougher challenge than anticipated for Facebook and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, who bought Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion.

Beat Saber is listed among the top VR games across a number of different industry publications, and has sold more than 1 million copies. After launching May 2018, it was one of the top 12 games of the year by gross revenue on the game store run by SteamVR. Beat Saber will still be available on other gaming platforms, Facebook said, and won’t be exclusive to Oculus.

In a blog post announcing the deal, Mike Verdu, head of VR and augmented-reality content at Facebook, hinted that more music may be coming to the game. That’s an area where Facebook, which has licensing deals with a number of major music publishers, will likely be able to help the small studio. Verdu acknowledged that when independent game studios get swallowed up by bigger companies, the studios sometimes lose their charm and creativity.

“I’ve been in the industry for a while and have seen that firsthand,” he wrote. “The story we aim to prove over time is this: An indie studio joins forces with some like-minded allies, and together they find a way to push VR to new heights.”

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