Can Facebook monetize the virtual world?

Facebook buys virtual reality company Oculus

Facebook may have been late to move into mobile, but with Tuesday's $2 billion deal to buy virtual reality company Oculus, analysts say it is well-placed to profit from another platform of the future.

Gaming enthusiasts may fondly remember attempts to deliver virtual reality in the 1990s, but it's the potential for education, advertising, communications and an immersive social platform that sent tongues wagging after Facebook's announcement.

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"This is them (Facebook) making a bet that the future could be radically different," Jon Steinberg, president of social news and entertainment website BuzzFeed, told CNBC.

(Read more: Facebook buys Oculusfor $2 billion)

"This is going to be a way you engage with the internet, in a 3-D way at your desk, in an immersive environment."

Oculus is best known for its virtual reality headset Oculus Rift, which gained momentum after the company raised more than $2.4 million in a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. The hardware has received 75,000 orders to date, but is currently only available to developers and not consumers.

Facebook-Oculus deal long-term play: Pro

Facebook's acquisition of Oculus will be its second largest ever, after its $19.5 billion purchase of messaging app WhatsApp last month.

Facebook's deal includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter.

(Read more: Snapchat turns down $3 billion cash offer from Facebook)

Analysts agreed Facebook's move was a "future play" from which it would only truly benefit in four to five years' time, with the social media giant planning to merge its platform with the virtual gaming goggles.

Mark Little, an analyst at research firm Ovum, said selling the goggles was one way Facebook could monetize its platform, but added that there were many more.

"It's opening a new medium, the virtual reality medium, for all sorts of opportunities in learning, in communication and in entertainment," Little said. "Advertising could be relevant, but also, if we're moving into the learning space, then the sales of course could be relevant."

Little said Facebook had the right credentials to monetize its new technology, given its track record on mobile. Despite relatively late adoption, Facebook now has 1 billion monthly active mobile users.

(Read more: Is Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp a desperate move?)

Facebook's Frankfurt-listed stock traded 1.5 percent higher on Wednesday, following the announcement.

Analysts at RBC Capital Markets said it was too soon to predict any near-term financial implications for Facebook from the deal. However, they said it was unlikely the acquisition would change their current "outperform" rating on the stock.

Scott Redler, chief strategic officer at, told CNBC that investors should look to buy Facebook's stock if it dipped to the $60 mark. "I think it's a very interesting stock," he said.

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