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Thanks Facebook, You Rifted the Oculus

AKR|1304d ago |Blog Post|16|

It's a sad day in Game Land.

The Oculus Rift looked keen to change the way we look at gaming - literally.

While virtual-reality isn't exactly new; the O.R looked poised to revive the age-old idea, and turn this failed-fantasy into a brilliant reality. It soared up on KickStarter, with thousands of backers graciously donating to get the project up on its two feet - with the hope that an amazing experience was to soon follow. We've already seen many examples of games - both old and new, using the headset, and I have to admit; it looked pretty cool. The fantasy seemed to be fading, for reality was finally starting to shine through. It WAS happening!

Then, Mr. Zuckerberg decided that he wanted to go shopping for stuff that the really doesn't need; but unsurprisingly, he has the money to blow - so what does it matter?

Well, to the Game Nation, it matters a lot.

Many major things happen overnight; and this was sure one of them. One night the Oculus is as we know it; an ever-growing gaming VR-headset, and then *BOOM* - the headline of Facebook buying the invention surges up on many news networks; even some outside of gaming. Weirdly enough, I found out this news from an article I saw ON Facebook.

When I saw the headline; my first thought was: "Early April Fool’s joke – RIGHT?”


Naturally, I clicked on the article, to find out that indeed, the social-network giant went ahead and purchased this neat little trinket for $2 Billion. My reaction?

"Why? Why? No, seriously, WHY?!"

I was shocked, and frankly, quite confused. It just didn't make any sense.

When the news of Facebook purchasing "WhatsApp", came too light - that for sure made sense. When Microsoft purchased "Skype" - that made sense too. Why? Because in both situations; both of these companies purchased products that appealed to them, and would fit in their business model.

Can someone please to explain to me where and how something like the Oculus Rift fits into Facebook's business model?

Exactly - it doesn't.

As outlandish as it was for Nintendo to acquire Bayonetta 2 as an exclusive title; it was also quite outlandish for Facebook to acquire the Oculus Rift. At least in Nintendo's case, it's something that can probably work. How on earth is the Oculus Rift supposed to work with something like Facebook?

Video Chat doesn't really need to get more advanced; unless we start talking holograms. And, I honestly don’t need to be reading my friends’ “problems” a few inches from my eyes. Farmville isn’t going to get any more realistic with VR, either.

So then, what exactly does FB have in store for their new toy? Who knows? I surely know that I’m not paying hundreds of dollars to experience the “definitive” version of Facebook, or whatever they intend to do with it.

In my eyes, this is an opportunity that went up in thin air. It was like a large, expansive lake, being completely evaporated by a scorching sun. It seemed to be so great, so vast; a lake full of ideas - and yet, it was gone in an instant. It’s amazing how loud the “mighty dollar” can be; despite being an inanimate object. I’m disappointed in the creators for fizzling out the minute someone offered them too much green. This could have really spiced things up in the gaming world. Now, it’s probably not going to get past the drawing board; if not a neat YouTube video demonstration.

Well, we still have Morpheus right?

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zeal0us1304d ago

A lot of people tried to blame this on Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg but the fault truly lies with Palmer Luckey. Instead of being patient he went for the money. Oculus VR, Inc could have became multi-million(if not billion) ,over time, company with full control of its product. Now its company owned by Facebook which got some consumers and developers backing away from their product. I hope that cash, stocks and benefits were truly worth it, Palmer.

xX-StolenSoul-Xx1304d ago (Edited 1304d ago )

This could be a good thing, we just have to wait and see. Honestly more money backing it should help improve it, if anything goes wrong well we always have sony's project morpheus.

kingdip901304d ago

There is a big difference between companies like Sony and Facebook though and it's worth considering why when talking about things like this. It boils down to the investors mainly.

Sony is a tech company and as such their investors are used to seeing returns on R&D come back in the long term through sales directly to the customer (us the audience).

Facebook however has investors that are used to making money on a much more short term basis, Facebook profit from add sales and selling data if they try something new and it isn't profitable within a short time frame it gets trimmed and cut away. Facebook profit from their customers (the advertisers NOT us the audience)

Sure Facebook sure felt it was an awesome idea to go after Oculus and rightly so but those investors have minds that change and they want to see a fast turn around of their investments... I'm worried they may put up deadlines that are unrealistic for the rift to me and end up stifling it or even killing it depending on how short term minded they are.

We have already seen how this logic works in regard to microsoft. Software profits relatively quickly in comparison to hardware and we have all heard the rumblings from microsofts investors about the xbox one not being as profitable as quickly as they would like. I'm not saying they will sell it off that would take more than a couple of investors my point is that the grumbling is there.

starchild1301d ago (Edited 1301d ago )

I'm not in the mood to waste my time pointing out the errors in yet another collection of baseless assumptions. Suffice to say, the Oculus Rift is in a better position now than it was before the acquisition.

The extra resources the Facebook deal provides will allow them to bring a superior product to market. We're talking about a custom OLED panel with higher resolution and increased pixel density with smaller inter-pixel spaces, 90+Hz, reduced latency in the whole chain, more accurate positional tracking, etc.

They'll also be better able to invest in partnerships to bring high quality VR games to the Rift. In addition, we will likely get the consumer Rift sooner than we would have if they had attempted to fund everything through venture capital.

They've just hired Michael Abrash who is the Valve engineer that was most responsible for creating the incredible VR hardware that Valve demoed a while back to rave reviews.

Oculus is very quickly building the VR dream team and they are going to push VR forward in incredible ways.

I'll leave you with a few comments from Michael Abrash about the Facebook acquisition and the future of VR.

“Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus means that VR is going to happen in all its glory”

“The resources and long-term commitment that Facebook brings gives Oculus the runway it needs to solve the hard problems of VR — and some of them are hard indeed. I now fully expect to spend the rest of my career pushing VR as far ahead as I can.”

“We’re on the cusp of what I think is not The Next Big Platform, but rather simply The Final Platform – the platform to end all platforms – and the path here has been so improbable that I can only shake my head”

“It’s great to be working with John again after all these years, and with that comes a sense of deja vu”

“It feels like it did when I went to Id, but on steroids — this time we’re working on technology that will change not just computer gaming, but potentially how all of us interact with computers, information, and each other every day. I think it’s going to be the biggest game-changer I’ve ever seen — and I’ve seen quite a lot over the last 57 years.”

Bonerboy1303d ago (Edited 1303d ago )

You know what's funny in all of this? It's the tight little frown on John Carmack's face while hunched over his little work station testing the new FB apparatus with a "do not disturb" sign on the door. I wonder how keen he is now, and how long he knew of this deal, and if or how long he will stay with it.

Meh, whatever happens with it....there will be others.

LightofDarkness1303d ago (Edited 1303d ago )

People forget that JC walked away from a very well paying position at a prominent games company in order to pursue his own engineering interests. He's an engineer first and foremost, and his past has certainly pointed toward that. He has dumped millions into pet projects that pique his interest, such as his aerospace/rocket science endeavours. OR corp couldn't have afforded to pay him the way he was paid at id, at least not until now, but he left anyway. Obviously, everyone likes money, but it's clear that money is not the main fuel that drives him.

If he develops genuine concerns over OR's direction and future, he will leave. And if/when he leaves, that's when you should start worrying about the Rift.

Bonerboy1303d ago (Edited 1303d ago )

I didn't forget from where he left, NOR did I mention his position at Oculus, or my making light of his (purely speculative) disposition being related to money. Im simply speculating that Mr.Carmack, now having FB as a 'boss' might not be something he'll want to throw a party over. Im sure he couldn't care less as long as he can do what he loves with some freedom.

Im sure OR will be a great product eventually. I couldnt care less about the FB buyout, and if it works out, it works out, if not so be it.

rainslacker1301d ago

Carmack is actually optimistic about this, or at least not raging on it like it's the end of the world.

According to him
"I could think of other companies that would have more obvious synergies. However, I do have reasons to believe that they get the big picture as I see it, and will be a powerful force towards making it happen"

s45gr321303d ago

Well for Facebook acquiring the Oculus Rift it means people talking with other people in a virtual world. To see each other in person and at their home virtually, for that friend or family member walking you virtually on their next vacation, etc. As far as gaming is concerned Facebook offers the communication tools for online gaming. Unfortunately it could mean Oculus Rift ending up as an ad box plus Facebook lacks the expertise and know how when it comes to gaming

MacDonagh1303d ago

VR will flop for gaming for one particular reason and it's that the three different builds that are currently being developed for Microsoft, Sony and the Oculus Rift are going to be three potential money sinks for any prospective developer.

Not only would they have to make a game that would have to be work for both the PS Snore and the Xbone; if they want to add some sort of functionality towards the VR headsets, there will have to be some added time, effort and money to assure that happens. With rising costs for "next-gen" game development, one should be mindful and remember that hardware without software is of no use to anyone and there is a real danger of more developers being strained to work on fitting in these different VR systems.

That said; I'm not short-sighted enough to say that VR has no use outside of gaming. Facebook has pulled off a great coup with it and they may make a lot of money off it yet.

It's just a bigger shame on the people who donated money on good faith have had the carpet dragged underneath them.

The Great Melon1302d ago (Edited 1302d ago )

The multiple standards issue is being addressed by Valve by making a VR api to hide the differences between tech and make it scalable for the future. Also, many of the potential VR solutions all share about the same basic physical structure. They seem to take one screen and bisect it to generate the images for each eye.

I would hope that the main players in the VR game realize that they need to share the same boat until VR reaches critical mass.

MacDonagh1301d ago

I wish I could share that optimism with you Great Melon. I just don't see Microsoft and Sony working together to insure that their devices are cross-compatible in terms of game development since they are direct competitors with each other and would perhaps wish for "exclusive" content for their VR peripherals.

If they could somehow allow it to be possible for studios to be able to make games for the VR sets without it potentially compromising the studios who are making it; that would be most ideal.

However, both may simply go the same way as the Kinect and the PS Eye which only resulted in few games of note and a waste of resources by both Sony and Microsoft.

starchild1301d ago

It's not going to be any more difficult than making a multiplatform game is today. Probably easier actually.

Sony's Project Morpheus is EXTREMELY similar to the Oculus Rift.

If we can get a common API the hardware differences are going to be insignificant. Even without a shared API it really shouldn't be too difficult to port between them.

MacDonagh1301d ago

The thing with game development is that according to the numbers is that costs are sky-rocketing. For instance, Halo: Combat Evolved that was released in 2001 was made by a team of only 42 people while Bungie's next release Destiny is being made by a team of 450. That shows that teams of people are struggling to keep up with the continual improvement of the latest technology. And everyone wants to add VR into the mix as well?

Okay. We'll see what happens.

starchild1301d ago

I hear what you are saying. I just don't think that the VR aspect will add much difficulty on top of the difficulties of multiplatform development in general.

Whitefox7891300d ago

@MacDonagh you know about roughly 80% of that 450 team is artists right? The programming list is probably very minimal.