GFR has done some reporting in the past about the Oculus Rift, the wearable virtual reality display system that is thought to be ushering in a new age of “truly immersive” virtual reality. Even NASA thinks so. Oculus Rift got its start via Kickstarter, and rose to prominence in the world of gaming and virtual reality. So naturally, Facebook just bought it.
Oculus Rift netted $2.4 million on Kickstarter, and Facebook bought it for $2 billion. Facebook is pretty smart when it comes to its acquisitions, such as WhatsApp and Instagram, and there’s no doubt Oculus Rift is a great investment. Mark Zuckerberg says that, in addition to gaming, Facebook plans to use Oculus for a slew of other experiences and applications. Given Sony’s new Project Morpheus VR headset, Oculus may face some competition, and Facebook’s resources could certainly help keep Oculus on top.
Despite the money and opportunity Facebook brings, there has been a lot of backlash, especially from gamers and people who backed Oculus Rift’s original Kickstarter. Minecraft developer Markus Persson announced that he’s stopping development on a Minecraft game designed to be played on the Rift. “I don’t want to work with social, I want to work with games,” he said. “I will not work with Facebook.” Facebook’s stock also dipped after the announcement. Persson also articulated what a lot of other Oculus Rift backers are feeling: “I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.” No kidding. It really feels like a bait and switch.
Despite an early report that Facebook would rebrand Oculus, that appears to not be the case. Facebook seems more interested in the “software and services,” according to Zuckerberg, than the hardware. So maybe its affiliation with Facebook won’t tarnish its brand. Still, countless Redditors are both dubious of that, as well as angry, prompting Oculus Rift creator Palmer Lucky to post in the Oculus subreddit, arguing that the partnership with Facebook is “what’s best for the future of virtual reality” and that it will help them “accelerate [their] vision.” He also promises at the end of his post that “we won’t let you down.” Just promise me Farmville won’t become a virtual reality experience.