If you're not convinced that Oculus VR's decision to sell to Facebook was a good idea for the future of virtual reality, you'll become a believer a year from now. That's according to creator of the Oculus Rift headset, 21-year-old Palmer Luckey, who told Hip Hop Gamer at PAX East that he would have been skeptical about the deal, too, if he were just an average person.
"Knowing behind the scenes what's going on and what we need money to do and what we're going to be able to do with this deal, I know for myself that it's the best that we could possibly do," Luckey said. "So if people give us some time, I think they'll agree with us. A year from now, everyone--I think even a lot of the doubters, will look and say 'You know what, they really did make the best choice.'"
Luckey went on to explain what the Oculus VR sale to Facebook has allowed the company to achieve. He recalled that before the deal went through, some prospective employees were afraid to come on because Oculus VR was a high-risk start-up that could not promise stability. Now that they have the backing of Facebook, however, Oculus VR is in a position to hire anyone it needs because people no longer have that concern, Luckey said.
"A year from now, everyone--I think even a lot of the doubters, will look and say 'You know what, they really did make the best choice'" -- Palmer Luckey
He also said that selling to Facebook means Oculus VR--which will remain autonomous--allows the company to build its own custom parts instead of harvesting smartphone scraps for its virtual reality headsets. This will in turn allow for a "way better" product, he said.
Luckey further stated that Facebook and Oculus share the same dream that virtual reality will one day become mainstream. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wasn't shy about saying this when he announced the surprise $2 billion buyout of Oculus VR late last month.
Another benefit of selling to Facebook, Luckey said, is that now more AAA developers are getting excited about working on virtual reality games. Because Oculus VR now has stability, it means that developers understand "VR is going to be around for many years" and don't need to worry about dedicating resources to a platform that could disappear.
On the other end of the spectrum, Luckey teased that the influx of cash from the Facebook means Oculus VR can sign deals with independent studios to fund virtual reality games. The first of these deals are closing "really soon," he said.
Also in the interview, Luckey said when the Oculus Rift headsets finally do go on sale, they will be sold at cost. If they cost $200 to make, Oculus will sell them for $200, he said as an example. Of course, Oculus has not announced a release date or price for the final, consumer version of Oculus Rift. The latest development kit currently sells for $350.
Finally, Luckey addressed the other major virtual reality headset on the market, Sony's Project Morpheus. He said he does not consider this headset to be a competitor because Sony is catering only to its consumers, while Oculus is targeting a much wider audience.
"I think Morpheus is less competitive because it's for PlayStation 4," Luckey said. "They're trying to sell to their people and we're trying to sell to PC gamers and maybe mobile later on as it gets more powerful. Even if we were competing, I just think we have the best technology and the best team. But I am really excited that they're doing a pretty good job."