Feature Article

Why You Shouldn’t Worry about Facebook Buying Oculus Rift

Editorial: Facebook may not be everyone’s favorite company, but that doesn’t mean its acquisition of Oculus VR will negatively impact the Rift's gaming potential.

I was as surprised as anyone when I heard that Facebook acquired Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Oculus VR has repeatedly positioned its device as a gaming platform, and outside of supporting social games made by developers like Zynga, Facebook has relatively little experience in gaming at large. This, coupled with the fact that a lot of people dislike some of Facebook's practices, has left a lot of people confused and dismayed by the announcement.

Regardless of Facebook's privacy-related controversies, I think this acquisition is a clear boon for VR's biggest proponents, not a threat. Here’s why.

More Funds for Research and Development

Not long after the announcement, Oculus co-founder and VR visionary Palmer Luckey took to Reddit to defend the decision to join a large and controversial company like Facebook. For someone who’s made VR his life’s work, Luckey knows full well that developing new technologies requires money--lots of money. Luckey had this to say about the benefit of the acquisition:

“The partnership accelerates our vision, allows us to execute on some of our most creative ideas and take risks that were otherwise impossible. Most importantly, it means a better Oculus Rift with fewer compromises even faster than we anticipated.”

So, with more working capital, Oculus VR will improve the Rift faster than it could have before and bring it to market sooner than they previously envisioned? Makes sense. So far so good.

Facebook Has Proven its Ability to Grow Businesses

When Facebook acquired the photo sharing service Instagram nearly two years ago, there were 30 million active users. Today, that number is over 200 million. Did Facebook do this by fundamentally changing Instagram? No. If Zuckerberg’s statements to investors earlier today are to be believed, Instagram has continued to operate independently since it was purchased. That doesn’t mean that Facebook isn’t leveraging Instagram as a product, but apart from reducing it’s functionality on Twitter, Instagram has benefited from the partnership with Facebook because it's largely been left alone.

The association with a company like Facebook, whose proliferation of users is admirable, will expose Oculus VR and the Rift to a wider audience. With more people interested in VR, there’s a greater chance that game publishers will take VR seriously, and the medium will grow faster than it otherwise would have.

Facebook is in this for the Long Run

Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR is part of a long-term plan that aims to connect the global population, ideally, within the next 10 years. When discussing the development of VR, including gaming, Zuckerberg stated that he views VR as a five to ten year initiative. What that means is that Facebook isn’t in a rush to turn a profit on the hardware; it’s in a rush to fund development today to get results further down the road.

Though Zuckerberg made it clear that VR can serve Facebook’s business outside of gaming, he also said that Oculus VR was valuated at $2 billion “solely” for its gaming business alone, and that it is the “clearest opportunity” for the device. Time, Facebook money, and its belief in VR gaming equals a brighter future for the medium.

Facebook Supports Open Software Development

Facebook began its Open Compute Project in 2011, which aims to develop advanced, energy efficient data centers, but more importantly, share its findings with the industry at large in the form of open-source design documents. While that doesn’t mean Facebook will give away Oculus VR’s secret sauce, it’s proof that Facebook isn’t solely driven by monopolizing technology, and there’s a great chance it will keep Rift development open to anyone who’s interested.

...with more working capital, Oculus VR will improve the Rift faster than it could have before...

If Facebook throws more money at research and development, if it isn’t in a rush to turn a profit on VR, and it respects the Rift’s value as a gaming platform, why should this acquisition negatively impact the future of VR gaming? We know that the Rift will also be leveraged for non-gaming purposes that tie into Facebook’s advertising network, but that doesn’t mean gaming will as well.

Not everyone is convinced. Mojang pulled out of a potential deal to bring Minecraft to the Rift due to owner Markus Persson’s feelings that “Facebook creeps me out.” But, who says VR gaming will be threatened just because a service-based company with a social focus is involved? I’m optimistic that Facebook will help legitimize VR as a future gaming medium, and that Oculus VR will benefit as a result of time and further investments.

What do you think? Will VR gaming benefit or suffer from Facebook’s involvement?

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Discussion

766 comments
iknowthepiecesf
iknowthepiecesf

Zuckerberg is a mean sonovabitch and we all know that, so if in anyway, i mean in any possible way, he interferes with the Project, than it's time for us to forget about the whole occulus thing.

sonicdave
sonicdave

Whatsapp and Instagrm is NOT a gaming product! It wouldn't affect them as much as it would do to the Oculus Rift. That is obvious.  Looks like greed to me. Oculus VR guys got the funds they needed from kickstarter. If they had needed more money I'm sure the community would pitch in to help. But selling off something which was originally funded by the community to another group, Facebook (what could possibly be worse than facebook and Zueckerberg?) in that is...the most stupid thing I've heard of in recent years. As the guys on /r said, FB is not a "Gaming" site and will never be one but Oculus is made for gamers. I can imagine how the guys who donated to the kickstarter feel. And think about this, "Kindly log into your Facebook account to proceed" when you try to use the Rift. In short I would say the Oculus Rift project is screwed.
And in all honesty I don't want anything which has to do with facebook anymore. We'll only know after the actual product is launched. I hope some other product from another company gives the Oculus a serious competition.

ranchocucamanga
ranchocucamanga

My biggest worry is that Oculus will go the way of Farecast after it was acquired by Microsoft.  An innovative and necessary technology will disappear inside a brain-dead behemoth with no future.

marcuzgungeze10
marcuzgungeze10

This is a nutt shot to everyone who backed them on Kickstarter. They started with an idea and invention that no major company wanted. Then after they make some progress, they sell out to a company and leave all their supporters hanging. John Carmack is shady two-face back stabber. Sell your shares before people realize that Facebook is over. 

jimmy_russell
jimmy_russell

I think this is great. Sony really wants competition since Microsoft has been sluggish lately.

javalino
javalino

I dream on the day that anyone will have a life simulator. this day is closer because of this deal.

sdkingsht
sdkingsht

another really good reason not to worry is because i don't use facebook and wasn't planning on buying an Oculus Rift anyway. so we're good on all fronts. carrying on. 

Thisisstupid
Thisisstupid

I thought people were more angry because it's Facebook.  They don't have the best reputation and aren't a game company or a hardware company and now that they control Oculus people are angry because they don't like what they think Facebook is going to do with it.


Palmer can promise there aren't going to be any changes all he wants but the reality is it's not his company anymore and if Facebook decides to change it he won't be able to stop it from happening.

Crocodile3
Crocodile3

Facebook have done this for one reason. 


Is it for profit? NO!

Is it to diversify their investments? NO!!

Is it to give an emerging technology the capital to be a success? NO!!!

Is it because this week it is the last Feedbacula ever? Abso - muther humping - lutely?


See you Friday... It will be one hell of send off.

feathers632
feathers632

At first I was like...  "this can't be true... it's 6 days from April 1st so it has to be a joke".  Then I was like "I can't believe we've all been conned and it was really all about the money", Then I calmed down and listened to what Palmer was saying: "no more searching for scraps - all custom parts - this is a good thing".  Then I began to question why it is so many of us were going mental when Palmer had secured practically unlimited funding to build the VR he had always dreamed about.  OculusVR has gone from a garage project to a sizeable company quite quickly.  The company has been very open about what it's doing and listening to Palmer speak it's obvious he has a genuine desire to bring affordable VR.  Palmer is clearly an approachable, likeable person driven by a real passion to deliver high performance VR at a price we can all afford.  Our perception of Mark Z is the opposite - arrogant nerd determined to reach the top at any cost?  Privacy issues and other concerns.  I don't think I've ever heard him speak, not followed any of his words, my perception of him has been shaped entirely by the media and by the general consensus of opinion which isn't always accurate.


I've joined in the bitching over the years about Facebook and yet I continue to post there each day.  I may not know much about zucky and the type of person he really is but I do know enough about Palmer to know that his motivation is still his desire to make affordable VR rather than simply to make a lot of money.  I don't think he would have agreed to this deal if it meant sacrificing his vision.  Facebook the corporation must also be aware of Palmer's intention and they should be smart enough to allow him to deliver without damaging the relationship with Palmer and with the public.  I believe it will be Palmer leading the way where Oculus is concerned regardless of who owns what and who funds it.  

TheGreatPhoenix
TheGreatPhoenix

I think that in an ideal world, we would not have to worry about this. However, there is so much that can go wrong with Facebook deciding both the direction and application of this technology, that I AM WORRIED

Dradeeus
Dradeeus

I would have thought that the anger and outrage came from the general sense that people are fed up with seeing up-and-coming new companies being simply absorbed into megacorporations- that all we have now is all we will ever have, because if someone new comes along, they can be bought up. It doesn't matter who bought it- the outrage would be the same, a promising, crowdsourced project that people, regular people, wanted to be part of and felt strongly about, is now just another piece of hardware put out by massive companies. 

The Rift was an indie success story. I feel really bad for the people who wanted to back it because they thought they were helping bringing a smaller product into the mainstream- only to find out they just gave their money to Facebook investors.

rheaburton
rheaburton

Well you said my main concern, it went from being an open project with imput from various sources to now being run by a major corp, as long as mark can keep his mitts on it and not the shareholders or people who could care less about gaming than ok , he's young I'm sure he games so let's wait and see.

tightwad34
tightwad34

I just don't want to be forced to have a Facebook account just to use OR. Hell, it probably doesn't even matter. We are doomed anyways.

DuaneDog
DuaneDog

One more comment... I own the Oculus developer kit. The technology is fascinating in much the same way Kinect technology is fascinating.  There is great promise and for a few hours here and there it has good potential promise. However, from my experience with the device it simply isn't going to replace AAA gaming experiences in the same way that Kinect has been unable to really produce AAA games... not for many years to come. 


So Facebook as a driver for this technology is probably not a bad idea considering where its stage is at developmentally. I imagine walk throughs for real estate and home purchases. Virtual travel applications where you can be in 'Rome' without actually being there. Perhaps product demos and short game sessions that stick to under 30 minutes or less. Perhaps 'visiting' Facebook friends in virtual environments so you feel closer to them. 


I don't see people wearing an Oculus for a 15 hour game session unless you want to fry your brain and kill your neck and back from the weight of the thing. Even the final version is going to be somewhat bulky and will have lag that will cause motion sickness for most people who use it more than 15-20 minutes at a time. The technology just isn't there yet even considering the developer kit has lower specs and will likely improve substantially for commercial release. I have spent a great deal of time with the specs as they are and where they will be in the next 5 years or so. It's simply not going to offer AAA experiences and will instead be more like Kinect in that you can have some cool novel stuff... but not AAA.


In 10 years most likely AAA games can and will use Kinect tech as well as VR/3D to enhance experiences. Today, technology like Kinect, 3D, and VR is going to ironically, not compete well against a AAA game experiences we have today with more traditional technology. 

aoelckers
aoelckers

I made a video about Facebook + Oculus.  You can find it on YouTube by searching for "FOculusBook".  Hope you like it!


Anyone know how to send an email to Gamespot staff?  I think they'd get a kick out of it but don't know how to contact them.


Thanks!

smokeywcc
smokeywcc

In my opinion, Facebook buying Oculus was a good move. Although gaming isn't their strongest suit, they do have the funds to keep updating and creating better versions of the software. I do agree with the Oculus founder when he talked about why he wouldn't sell to Apple or Microsoft. If it's not in the vision to keep the product as is instead of ripping it apart and combining with something else, than it's not good business. www.nicksandlin.com

pirate_or_ninja
pirate_or_ninja

Im glad facebook bought Oculus now, cause like the oculus guy said:

“Why would we want to sell to someone like (Microsoft) or Apple?” he asked. “So they can tear the company apart and use the pieces to build out their own vision of virtual reality, one that fits whatever current strategy they have? Not a chance.”

facebook made an investment, they spent 2 billion and all they have to do is sit back and let the oculus team do its thing and then reap the hundreds of billions that will follow. there is no reason for them to integrate facebook into it and they aren't going to spend 2 billion to shat all over a good thing and ruin it.

the reason why they are a good match is cause FB isnt a hardware company, they know nothing about it so thats more reason for them to just let the Oculus team do its thing with the resources provided and just reap the rewards that follow. MS or SOny or any other hardware/tech company would do nothing but get in the way and try to change things up when that isnt needed

jimmy_russell
jimmy_russell

I'm not worried because Sony is coming out with a better product.

parabol69
parabol69

I'm not worried about it because I wasn't going to invest in this garbage anyway. And now that Zuckerburg's bitch ass is attached to it, it guarantees I won't even think twice about it.

Ark1of712
Ark1of712

I wonder how many people have been logged into Facebook while they rag on it, or even better, logged onto Facebook to complain about Facebook.

Dswiss
Dswiss

We shouldn't worry because of them permanently imputing facebook in our heads is going to be quick and painless?

Dieknochenblume
Dieknochenblume

Typical business point of view: "well, throwing a lot of money at something can only make it better, right?"

filemaster4
filemaster4

Without Kickstarter. The Oculus Rift will not have ever gotten off the ground,  if it wasn't for the public funding.  Big corporations tossed aside the notion of having VR.  Since VR was embedded in people's minds that it was a failure back in the 1990s.  Even Sony was kind of fidgety to bring back something that failed a long time ago.  Not until Oculus came out and proven that VR wasn't dead. It just needed to be rebuilt with the technology that we have today. Oculus have shown that they can show the hype.  And Sony came back eyeballing VR again.  So give them credit for make a business decision, where other corporations haven't stepped up to acquire this business. They just watched and waited to see the outcome until it was too late. so I am happy of the decision that they had made. I give them all the best of luck,

vincent_tai
vincent_tai

Hmm.... VR Candy Crush Saga coming soon? :-P

jhpiv4
jhpiv4

What if Facebook starts it's own gaming service, spearheaded by Oculus games? That could be awesome!

Also, I'm definitely not afraid of more casual games coming to Oculus. Honestly, if I'm going to be in a VR experience, chances are I'm going to want to play something nice and relaxing.

R3FURBISHED
R3FURBISHED

The market didn't react too well to this - it's not as bad as what KING did or anything, but it's still a drop.

sixty7velle
sixty7velle

LOL at kickstarter. Good luck getting people to fund new projects.

ggregd
ggregd

@SHEETBIKE  Well, Feedbackula picked the wrong week to pack it in.

Azerohiro
Azerohiro

I mean VR just became a $2 billion industry over night, so that's a positive. The only thing that matters to me is the product.

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

"If Facebook throws more money at research and development, if it isn’t in a rush to turn a profit on VR, and it respects the Rift’s value as a gaming platform,"

Lot of assumptions there though dont you think? They might not respect the rift as gaming platform

clasiker_raggim
clasiker_raggim

@DuaneDog Then the Dumberberg should just start his own project from the ground not spoiling everyone's expectations. Imagine now what will he do to this product for those "dumb f+ks".

Anyone remember what happened to the potential of Ageia PhysX once it was acquired by NVidia to be used in their contradictory technology where two capabilities who are inhibiting each other must coexist? Most likely Fukeberg just brought this for himself to have something to play with while masturbating at home.

Oni
Oni

@jimmy_russell  I'd even go as far as saying it will be a Superior product just for the fact it wont have "Facebook" written anywhere on the device.

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

@Ark1of712 Not me. Dont use it. Facebook is for tools and businesses to spam advertising now. I talk to friends with a thing called a phone if they arent it I dont care for them

feeb1e
feeb1e

@Dieknochenblume For a company like Oculus, who have a distinct vision, but struggle to make progress because of the cost of innovation... yes, throwing them lots of money does make the product better.  At the very least, it gets the product to market sooner.  But in this case, it allows them to bypass some of the typical steps you see with newly developed technology.  First release products are expensive, require a lot of field testing, require compromises in available components, etc.  This level of operating cash will allow Oculus to jump generations ahead, with components that are made specifically for the purposes of their VR tech.  To boot, they can keep the consumer cost down up front.

DuaneDog
DuaneDog

@jhpiv4  I have the Oculus developer kit... honestly the best applications for the tech at this stage are for things like virtual walk through real estate tours, product demos, and short more casual experience. VR technology is much more like Kinect in that it has good novel applications, good casual applications... but I think the hardcore gaming applications in which gamers will prefer using the Oculus over more traditional gaming technology is a ways off. A more balance approached to VR that explores aspects in the social space and augmented reality type applications is going to win more than a product like perhaps Sony is pushing that will be 100% about games. 


The VR technology needs to be down to about a 5ms lag to make it hardcore gamer spec that you could play for hours at a time. Right now the goal is to have a commercial product at 20ms lag. I expect Sony will have similar goals as it is the best we can do today with current technology.Good for some casual things but not for hardcore FPS gaming stuff. Don't get me wrong. Kinect I believe too one day will have a place in hardcore gaming... but VR, like Kinect likely has more value in the short term with casual markets. Ironic consider both these products are quite highly technical and should be pushing gaming tech... instead it is such bleeding edge both Kinect and Oculus lacks (in my opinion) the ability to deliver AAA gaming experiences.

feeb1e
feeb1e

@jhpiv4 You'll get a lot of flaming for this comment, but there's nothing untrue about your statement.  Gamers love Steam, and it's essentially the Facebook of gaming.  I wonder how many of these "elitist" gamers scoff at the mention of any Facebook game, but marvel at their collection of Steam trading cards, or post screenshots of their beloved customized game characters.


The Oculus was never intended to be used only by hard core gamers.  I don't play Facebook games, and likely never will, but play what makes you happy.  If playing casual games in VR is your thing, do it and tell everyone who has a problem with it to @#$% off.

parabol69
parabol69

Ultra Candy Crush 3D!!!!! Yeah, I don't think so, chump.

feeb1e
feeb1e

@sixty7velle This has exactly nothing to do with Kickstarter.  The Kickstarter campaign for Oculus was over.  It was kicked off and is now headed for production.  That's exactly what the campaign aimed to begin.

feeb1e
feeb1e

@abcdefgabcdefgz I wouldn't say that those are blind assumptions.  Mark Zuckerberg essentially came right out and addressed those concerns in his shareholders conference regarding the acquisition. Lying to investors isn't an option.

Raxyman
Raxyman

@abcdefgabcdefgz after those fb games, do you have any doubt? They're more greedy than the crapiest of gaming devs....

pirate_or_ninja
pirate_or_ninja

@Oni @jimmy_russell  i didnt know they confirmed that they would put a FB logo on it anywhere? oh wait they didnt, in fact they have said the exact opposite.   people really need to stop making assumptions

ramonno
ramonno

@feeb1e @jhpiv4FB gaming device awesome? Steam is the FB of gaming???


Pre-paid Facebook Reputation Managers detected.

ramonno
ramonno

@feeb1e @sixty7velle It has EVERYTHING to do with Kickstarter. Nobody pledged money to Facebook, future Kickstarter projects will be affected by this, who in their right mind will throw money away again when there is the potential a corporation will end up owning the project??

feeb1e
feeb1e

@Raxyman Facebook didn't develop those crappy games.  They provided a platform for them.

feeb1e
feeb1e

@Raxyman We already use Facebook for games.  It's called Steam.  If Facebook was interested in gamers, that's exactly what it'd look like.  However, there's no indication that they have any intention of competing with Steam.  What Zuckerberg was talking about in his shareholders conference was clearly a separate, additional vision from gaming, which would be developed after Oculus had a chance to gain a foothold on the consumer market.

Look at it this way.  You can use your computer to play games, and you can use your computer to view Facebook.  There's no connection between the two unless you want there to be.  The same should and could easily hold true for Oculus.  Facebook isn't going to attempt to stuff their social media down gamers throats knowing that it would tank the platform before it ever gained momentum.

Raxyman
Raxyman

@feeb1e Still, they did encourage that kind of games. I don't see what facebook would ever want with the gaming market. And whatever it is, it can't be good for gamers.