Oculus Rift, Facebook, and Cautious Optimism

The large acquisition has caused a lot of waves and opinions

By on March 29th, 2014 04:51 GMT

By far the biggest news story of the week was the acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook for a whopping $2 billion (€1.45 billion). What followed, however, was an even bigger reaction from all over the internet.

First up, a bit of backstory into the whole situation. Oculus was founded by a few enthusiasts about virtual reality who believed that now is finally the moment when VR can be a magical experience and not some clunky gimmick from the 1980s and 1990s, as seen in movies or in failed experiences like the Nintendo VirtualBoy.

At the time, the only way to secure any bit of funding and support was through websites like Kickstarter, so Oculus took its concept, the Rift, to the crowd, asking for money to actually create the virtual reality headset.

Thanks to a few key backers, such as Mojang's Markus "Notch" Persson or Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski, the Oculus Rift broke through crowdfunding records and immediately started selling early dev kits to those interested in experiencing the VR revolution.

I already had a chance to review the Oculus Rift dev kit and came away extremely impressed, especially since most of the downsides are already being addressed by Oculus with the Dev Kit 2 or the upcoming consumer edition that will see the light of day probably in 2015.

Earlier this week, VR was getting more and more attention, especially since Sony also presented Project Morpheus, its own virtual reality headset.

Everything changed with Facebook

Afterwards, however, is was confirmed that Facebook, the large social giant, had acquired Oculus.

Facebook doesn't exactly have the best of reputations, especially after privacy scandals like the NSA Prism one, so immediately a lot of vocal Oculus Rift supporters backed away, starting with Persson himself, who canceled a future Minecraft virtual reality edition.

Others have continued to support Oculus, like Bleszinski, but plenty of regular users have canceled their pre-orders for the dev kit 2 due to fears about the new Facebook overseers.

Both Oculus and Facebook have made it clear that their new relationship won't herald any changes to the current focus of the Rift, which is towards games, although the future will certainly be steered towards more social activities, possibly even networks like Facebook.

Unfortunately, due to the bad reputation Facebook has about aggressive advertising, privacy, and other sensitive issues, it will be a long time before gamers will trust Oculus like they did when it was still an independent company.

There's no going back

I, for one, am cautiously optimistic about the move.

Sure, Facebook has its issues, but so far, with acquisitions like WhatsApp or Instagram, it has stuck to its word about not interfering with the plans those teams have for those services.

I just hope that Oculus will be able to make a comeback in terms of popularity, especially for the sake of the PC platform, as it's not likely that Sony will bring or sell Project Morpheus to other platforms besides the PlayStation 4.

What do you think about the Oculus Facebook transaction? Have you lost faith in the Rift or are you more excited than ever?

1 Comment