Facebook buys Virtual Reality pioneer, Oculus Rift

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Recently, Facebook shook the industry by buying Whatsapp for a whopping 19 billion dollars which some analysts said was a bit too much.

Now, Facebook has gone out on a buying spree and bought Virtual Reality (VR) pioneer, Oculus Rift.

Before Oculus, VR was practically dead: Unusable, Headache inducing piece of crap with the added problems of lack of content to use it with.

Facebook buys Oculus VR for $2 billion

Oculus, which started off as a Kickstarter project, just shook the foundations of VR and took matters in it’s own hands: It had exceeded it’s funding goal by a large margin, it was signing on developers like crazy and had finally given VR hope for a future.

The Oculus Rift’s potential was realized by industry legends such as John Carmack and was also recognized by non-gaming industries which also saw in it the future of training, entertainment, etc.

Oculus Rift had collected over 2 million USD in crowd funding and has sent out over 75000 developer kits.

Thos are the hard numbers. Those numbers show how influential and in demand the Oculus is in.

It was a game changer. A big one that, too. Just when Oculus Rift was climbing up at a rapid pace, Facebook swooped in and bought it for 2 Billion dollars. With an additional 300 Million dollars in cash and stock provided if Oculus hits ‘certain’ milestones.

Essentially, like hanging meat in front of a dog to keep it running.

The deal will close around the second quarter of 2014.

Facebook says it wasn’t aiming for profit when it acquired Oculus. It was more focused on bringing Virtual Reality to the masses.

Mark Zuckerburg said : “the main goal that we have is building out the product, using the different levers that Facebook has to make the product affordable to people, make it ubiquitous and use the different technologies that Facebook has to bring it to market as soon as possible.”

Facebook says Virtual Reality is the next big revolution in computing and it wants to be a part of it. It wants to connect “the next billion people with VR”.

Facebook is convinced that the Oculus Rift is “Far ahead” competitors such as Sony’s Project Morpheus.

While this is good news for a company with humble beginnings on crowdfunding website Kickstarter, others don’t think so:

Minecraft Creator: Facebook “creeps me out”

Minecraft

Minecraft signing on to port the game to the Oculus was a big milestone. You could now move around and interact in your own  world, as if it is the real world. You move around in a world you have created. No wonder that game is popular.

But soon after news of Facebook’s acquisition came in, Minecraft said it will no longer develop for the Oculus. So whatever dreams you had about 3D VR Minecraft, scrap them. Scrap them now. It won’t happen.

Before the news:

“As someone who always felt like they were born five or ten years too late, I felt like we were on the cusp of a new paradigm that I might be able to play around with,” Perrson wrote. “I could be part of the early efforts to work out best practices, and while I have no doubt that in ten years we’ll look back at the problems with early VR applications in the same we look back at GUI problems with early PC games, it still felt exciting to me.”

After the news:

Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.

Don’t get me wrong, VR is not bad for social. In fact, I think social could become one of the biggest applications of VR. Being able to sit in a virtual living room and see your friend’s avatar? Business meetings? Virtual cinemas where you feel like you’re actually watching the movie with your friend who is seven time zones away?

But I don’t want to work with social, I want to work with games.”

“I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook,” he said. “Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform. There’s nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me. And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition”

Yeah, so it does creep everyone out. A social media company with a penchant for advertisements buying a VR pioneer.

That sounds real bad.

People’s Worries

Many people took to the comments section to rant about it and ironically were using Facebook comments to criticize Facebook for buying the startup.

The main reason that was given was that when Oculus was a small startup, it had to work hard to make VR real. But now, the founders are rich beyond their dreams and actually have no reason except passion for working at Oculus.

What is to keep them from leaving? What makes them work hard on the Oculus Rift? Before, the answer was success. Oculus was working towards making VR a reality to be successful. To be recognized. To be rich. To leave a mark in the fabric of history.

Now that Oculus is rich beyond their wildest dreams, they don’t have anything to drive them forward. They are now successful. They are now rich. With Facebook’s acquisition, they will be recognized and be alive in our minds forever.

Even if they didn’t stop working, they might not work as hard. Or with THAT much passion.

People also worry that Facebook might add a bit of it’s advertisement penchant into the Oculus.

“You can now experience the hilarity/stupidity/stuff that makes you furious in a full 3D and VR screen. Advertisements may pop up between games, worser than TV. They will be all around you”

Just hearing that makes you nauseous, doesn’t it.

Conclusion

The Good:

  • Work on the Oculus Rift wouldn’t be stopped
  • Facebook will try to make the Rift affordable and accessible to the masses.
  • Facebook wants to build a virtual social network where you interact with others just like in real life, but in a Virtual World.
  • Facebook will expand the Oculus Rift into fields that are not related to gaming
  • Facebook’s huge resources, employees and user base can be used by the Oculus Rift to give itself a better future.

The Bad:

  • Facebook hasn’t ruled out the possibility of advertisements on the Virtual Headset.
  • Facebook may turn the platform into something it wasn’t orignally for.
  • Oculus is no longer the passion driven startup it once was. It is now rich beyond it’s dreams and can in theory do whatever it wants (Of course it is bound to Facebook, so it can’t really do anything)
  • Facebook can close down Oculus anytime it wants because it owns it. It has happened before when Google acquired Sparrow.

UPDATE: It is finally clear why Facebook bought Oculus, because VR is social!

Sources: Facebook and Oculus blog post

 

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