So yeah, yesterday after the markets closed, Facebook announced they were going to buy Oculus VR for $2 billion. Oculus VR is the company currently working on the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
And then a corner of the internet exploded. I figured I ought to mark that moment in time so we can come back and revisit it later.
Sudden, and potentially rash statements were made.
A general revulsion with all things Facebook was expressed by some.
Basically, all the dislike of Facebook… and there is much to dislike about Facebook and it methods and its founder’s outlook… bubbled forth. Answer this question: If Mark Zuckerberg asked you to strap this to your face…
Into the Rift
…which movie would come to mind? Aliens? Clockwork Orange? Lawnmower Man?
Would you envision fun things happening or bad things? Or just boring things?
So we are currently in the shock phase of this announcement, which is making the whole “Disney buys Star Wars“thing look pretty tame, at least in our little corner of the internet. After all, for a lot of people the Star Wars series was already ruined by episodes I-III, so what else could Disney do? But a lot of people were pining some pretty big hopes on Oculus Rift being a step into the future of gaming.
And now Facebook has it. Are we going to get Candy Crush Saga VR? FarmVille 3D? Are we going to get any sort of VR gaming experience at all out of this? Zuckerberg isn’t exactly big on video games. His past actions have been about extracting money from those games that choose to live in his domain.
Ars Technica already has a column up about what Facebook might do, which includes a lot of promises about what won’t happen… from the guy who no longer controls the company… so the brightest bit in that seems be the fact that Facebook bought Instagram and hasn’t destroyed it yet. Maybe Zuckerberg will just leave them alone.
Then there is the Kickstarter aspect of the whole thing. Oculus VR raised $2.4 million of its funding via a Kickstarter campaign… just before Disney bought Star Wars, to bring that back around. People who gave money at that point forked it over for very specific reasons. This was the way it was pitched:
…the first truly immersive virtual reality headset for video games.
For video games. That is what they said. Will they keep saying that a few months after the acquisition? And will it matter if more developers step away because of Facebook?
While Oculus VR likely has no legal/financial obligation to do anything but send out the promised T-Shirts and early units that people were entitled to for their pledges, do they have any sort of moral obligation after taking Facebook’s money when it seems likely that the vision sold will not end up being the vision pursued?
And, finally, there is the “Why sell to Facebook?” question. Why would Oculus VR sell to a company that has so little interest in video games and so much invested in collecting and selling our data? Were things just up for the highest bidder? Were there too many strings attached to other offers? Did current investors force the move to cash out?
Because there had to be other offers.
Anyway, among other things, this puts the whole “CCP moving closer to Sony” thing in a new light. Was the word already out that Oculus Rift might be moving away from video games? Was CCP hedging its bets? Is Sony’s Project Morpheus the new leader in that arena?
The Sony project was interesting when Oculus Rift was there as well, but alone it seems destined to become yet another proprietary piece of Sony hardware. Sony VR will require you to purchase a PlayStation 4. And that may keep Oculus Rift in play even with Facebook looming large over it.
As the dust settles after the big shock, people are starting to muse about what this really means. I suspect we will be doing that for a while.
Of course, every such announcement has its bright side.
And then there is the humor aspect.
We shall see how this all develops. If nothing else, I have a tickler now to check back on this in a year.