If Sony's reveal of their own long-rumored VR headset wasn't enough vindication of the virtual reality platform, Facebook brought it into the mainstream big leagues by buying Oculus VR for $2 billion. For context, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, and spent a whopping $19 billion on WhatsApp.
The Facebook acquisition of Oculus was finalized in just 72 hours, but the backlash was much more immediate. Oculus creator Palmer Luckey wrote a letter online explaining why the deal makes sense for Oculus, but:
- Kickstarter backers raged against the sale online and in the Oculus Kickstarter message area.
- Minecraft creator Notch cancelled the previously announced Oculus version of Minecraft, calling Facebook "creepy." He explained his decision, and his disdain for Facebook, in a longer letter on his website.
- Cliff Blezinski called Notch a "pouty kid" for his knee-jerk reaction.
- And Notch responded that he is "a man driven by principles, not capitalism, so I guess I'll just have to get used to the occasional name calling."
Oculus was genuinely surprised by the negative reaction to the Facebook purchase, and Lucky said that, "After [Notch] sees everything we are able to do, I hope he will change his mind." Luckey also answered questions directly on Reddit about the deal:
- "You won't need to log into your Facebook account every time you wanna use the Oculus Rift."
- There's going to be a lot of resources put into indie content, hiring more people, and making custom hardware instead of using "scraps of the mobile phone industry."
- "A lot of people are upset, and I get that. If you feel the same way a year from now, I would be very surprised."
- Zuckerberg won't control Ocululs. "This acquisition/partnership gives us more control of our destiny, not less!"
Here in the GameSpot office, editor Tom Mc Shea wrote about how the backlash was understandable, but that ultimately, "We have learned a valuable lesson: Giving money on Kickstarter does not mean we have any say in a company's decisions." And Peter Brown explained why, even if you're truly excited by VR, you shouldn't worry about Facebook buying Oculus.
And you can be sure that there'll be even more big developments in the near future. Microsoft has rumblings of getting into VR in their own way, and E3 is right around the corner with even more exciting announcements.