The Oculus team has announced that they have “joined forces with Facebook to create the best virtual reality platform in the world” in their blog, but the truth is that Facebook is going to be buying Oculus for approximately $2 billion USD. According to the official press release the transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014. The reaction to this news by the community is mostly negative and you can easily figure out why. Initially Oculus was a gaming oriented VR-capable device and most if not all people that have backed up the project have done so because of that promise. Now with Facebook buying the company as it clearly sees the potential in VR in the future, the things will undoubtfully move away from the gaming side and will most likely focus on the use of the VR hardware for the next level of social platform or what you may easily call Facebook 2.0. Even with The Facebook CEO reassuring that gaming will continue to be the main goal of the project for now, people still feel cheated:
Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won’t be changing and we hope to accelerate. The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community, and there’s a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform. We’re going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games. Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook to achieve this.
But this is just the start. After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home. This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.
Yes, VR does have a lot of potential and apparently Facebook knows that and the fact that Oculus was way ahead in achieving really immersive and affordable VR experiences, way ahead of competition, so they have acted in doing what is the best thing if they wanted to get into VR now. Facebook certainly can afford to do a deal like that and has the financial resources to really do something great with VR technology, however the most serious concern is that they will use all of that only to integrate the technology in Facebook. Things could’ve been better if another company with more interest into gaming such as Microsoft or Sony has made the deal with Oculus instead of Facebook. Sony has just recently announced their alternative of Oculus that seemed a lot like a copy of the Rift, but not yet to technologically advanced, but now they may actually get ahead of Oculus if gamers decide to back up their product instead of Oculus Rift. We’ll see how the final Sony product will compare to the new Oculus Rift, but it will may not come as a surprise if Sonny announces that their Project Morpheus will become a new top priority for the company.
Now, looking at the Oculus Rift just from a gamers’ perspective is probably not right anymore, even Oculus is not talking about the Rift as a gaming only device, but as a VR platform with many possibilities. The fact that Facebook may kill most of them in order to bring users to the next level by integrating Virtual Reality experiences in their social network still remains highly possible, even when Mark Zuckerberg says that they will not kill the original idea and the team at Oculus will remain the same. We’ll see how this will turn out, if it will be for good or for bad. The fact is that Facebook is a social media and their interests are mainly there, not games, or not games in the way that people like to experience with the Rift. Instead of providing the best VR experience that consumers want, Facebook may actually deliver the “best experience” the way the want it to be and force you to either accept it this way or not use it at all.
I have personally pre-ordered the new Oculus Rift DK2 the moment it was announced without even thinking twice about it, however if the deal with Facebook was announced before the pre-order was put on the website I might have thought about it before hitting the order button…