Last night, news came through that Facebook bought Oculus, famed for the ‘Oculus Rift’, for $2 Billion.
Breaking that figure down, it would consist of $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook stock.
Mark Zuckerburg announced the news on his Facebook profile, and in a blog post. His reasons for purchasing the company were:
“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” said Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”
Oculus will not be moving to Facebook’s campus in California, rather they will stay where they have been since the beginning, and use the funding to set out prototypes and mass improvements to the final consumer model of the ‘Oculus Rift’ which could be released next year.
Hands-on impressions of the Rift were given late last year, which can be seen here. The immersive experience of Portal 2 was a moment where you’d be taken aback by how you’d feel like you were truly in that world, and with the funding, it doe shaw it positives, but the negatives seem to be affecting the news so much, that Oculus’ inventor, Palmer Luckey, took to Reddit to answer Kickstarters’ backers.
“In the end, I kept coming back to a question we always ask ourselves every day at Oculus: what’s best for the future of virtual reality? Partnering with Mark and the Facebook team is a unique and powerful opportunity. The partnership accelerates our vision, allows us to execute on some of our most creative ideas and take risks that were otherwise impossible. Most importantly, it means a better Oculus Rift with fewer compromises even faster than we anticipated.”
He’s been trying to ‘damage-control’ the news in this thread, and on Twitter, but there has been one tweet amongst the frustrations and the congratulations that has taken front centre. Mainly, the owner of Mojang and creator of Minecraft, Marcus Persson, took to Twitter give his opinion:
What seems to stem from the frustration are two things:
Oculus began its funding by asking the community of Kickstarter to raise funds of $250,000 in order to change the product from concept to consumer product, achieving its goal by ending with nearly $2.5 million. Backers felt an attachment with the product, not only physically with what it can be capable of for gaming, but an emotional attachment that Oculus could change the concept of how virtual reality would be more accessible to consumers, rather than watching it on Star Trek or The Simpsons. Now that they have been bought by a large, social company that gain profits by monetisation and advertising, backers feel like the community have lost a great product to a corporate environment.
In the last seven years, Facebook has grown from a competitor to MySpace, to having over a billion mobile users worldwide. It’s the social playground for everyone, with recent peer pressured trends and a heavy reliance on statuses to be liked taking centre-stage.
To have a community backed product to have this potentially have a Facebook logo on the front, with a blue colour scheme for the headset, people are fearing that Facebook don’t have Oculus’ best interests at heart. That eventually, they will focus away from gaming being the forefront, to having it be more social.
Gaming possibly will be taking a slight step back, but VR has so many more possibilities.
Imaging instead of using Skype, you can walk into a virtual room, and be with family members that are in America, Australia, and you would be talking to avatars.
Or watching a film, a virtual cinema could bring you to watch Back to the Future on the biggest screen you’ve seen with a group of friends.
As Palmer Luckey has said on Reddit, there’s certain plans that he can’t publicly say, but he has faith that this deal will work out for the better.
Only time will tell to see how Oculus will evolve with Facebook, and to see if Virtual Pool can be recreated as to how it was on The Simpsons many years ago.