Facebook-owned Beat Saber is getting cut from VR arcades.
The commercial licensing page for Beat Saber is gone as of this writing and we’ve heard multiple reports from arcades that one of their most popular games is being pulled from their locations during what’s already been a devastating period due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The licensing page for Beat Saber originally explained how to get a version of the game authorized for use by businesses charging a fee to customers in order to play one of VR’s most popular titles. The page resided at “Beatsaber.com/arcade” and, if you’re curious, you can read a version as it was captured by the Internet Archive last month.
I reached out to Beat Games — the studio behind Beat Saber — as well as Facebook, the studio’s parent company, seeking comment as to the reason for the change. A Facebook representative declined to comment.
Facebook acquired Beat Games late last year in what was the first of a series of purchases buying studios behind some of VR’s most popular games. Just this week Facebook purchased Ready At Dawn — the company behind Lone Echo and Echo Arena — and earlier this year snapped up Sanzaru Games.
Licensing music is a contentious area and Beat Saber’s path toward ensuring artists (and their labels) get paid for their music has sometimes collided with the wishes of fans of the game. Early on, for example, the song Believer by Imagine Dragons was added to the game in an unofficial way (as countless other songs were) and a video filmed with the custom map became a viral sensation that helped further popularize Beat Saber’s rhythmic slicing.
Beat Games went on to officially partner with Imagine Dragons, Panic! At The Disco, and Green Day, among others, to bring their music into the game in paid download packs. Updates to Beat Saber, however, frequently break community-driven efforts to add fan-made custom beat maps created to sync with music stored in folders on player’s systems.
SpringboardVR, a major distribution platform used by VR arcades that was one of the companies Beat Saber listed as a partner on the now-defunct commercial licensing page, posted to their blog on June 26 a piece titled “Hidden Gem VR Rhythm Games of 2020” which lists Synth Riders, Audio Trip, OhShape, and Hotel Transylvania Popstic as rhythm games operators could add to their library.
We’ll provide updates as we receive them but reports indicate that arcades have been advised to stop activating new stations for Beat Saber by July 1 and to remove the game entirely by July 31.
Article updated June 27 to note Facebook declining to comment.