I was going about my daily comings and goings and stumbled upon the news that Facebook was going to acquire Oculus Rift. Needless to say I was shocked when I read that headline and my mouth was open for at least 1.1 minutes.
When Oculus was first on Kickstarter it started a large grassroots effort and pulled in some serious donations in the process. Oculus was to some was the first REAL hope of virtual reality to take off into the mainstream. Needless to say the Kickstarter was a big hit and the Oculus team got the funding they had hoped for.
Oculus Rift was on its way and started to pull big name talent from all across the industry. Big talents such as John Carmack the creator of Doom signed on to work with the team. Those who had seen the Oculus Rift in person realized this could change video games as we know it. Valve gave Oculus its blessing and updated many of it’s games including Half Life 2 to take advantage of the new hardware. Valve went as far as to add native VR to Steam in the newest beta, so it seems they were also impressed.
Modders allowed Rift to grow organically adding patches to older games with no native support. The Oculus Rift was coming. So sounds great so far right?
All this excitement I had crumbled away when I saw the news Facebook had bought out Oculus. How could this be I said to myself. They sold their souls to the devil ! The selling of the Rift is a disaster waiting to happen for everyone involved and here is why.
The idea that a startup company that was gobbled up goes against the very thing Oculus Rift has stood for until now. Rift stood for a free creative place where those who dream big go up against titans like Microsoft and Sony. It was the right time for a shakeup and Oculus might be the hardware to change everything. Those who supported the Kickstarter are now demanding their money back, countless posts on forms and otherwise have been very vocal.
With that said those who did give to the Kickstarter don’t really have any legal right to get their money back according to the terms of service. Which in turn makes everything all the more depressing to those who backed the hardware. The sale right out of the gate sets a dangerous precedent for Kickstarter projects from now on and I wager many will think twice before investing. The idea that somebody invests into a vision, and that vision ends up morphing and changing into something unrecognizable is a scary thought.
I for one wanted the little guy to win for once. David would defeat Goliath and show everyone in Kickstarter that its possible. Facebook has changed a lot since the company went public and I think most would testify it was a change for the worst. New revue streams where created and more ads shoved in everyone’s face.
Is this what will become of the Oculus Rift? I sure hope not. Facebook has become a place where personal information has been sold to the highest bidder and that shareholders are more important than its users. Game designers are also jumping ship after the acquisition at this point.
Take the example of Markus “Notch” Persson the creator of the mega popular Minecraft had this to say. “I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out”. Privacy issues have plagued. Facebook is a social network not a gaming hardware company nor a gaming industry leader.
To be fair Facebook has publicly stated they will allow the Oculus team to remain independent but it sees a larger picture for mass produced educational tools. This is uncharted territory for Facebook and I hope for everyone sake they do allow Oculus Rift to carry out their vision for gaming.
I hope I can look back on this and laugh in a couple years when Oculus is in every store and selling like hotcakes. For myself this went beyond gaming, beyond the money, this had to do with a company which I had so much hope in that got crushed by the man. Maybe the added cash flow into the company is just what Oculus needs but, for me Goliath just killed David.
Do you think Facebook has doomed the Oculus Rift or do you think the added money will be just what they need to create an amazing product? Sound off in the comments and us know.
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Main picture Via Kotaku: Image credit (By neoGAFFer mcrommert)
Other pictures via Oculus website.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com