Once again, Facebook has found itself at the centre of a tech controversy. This week it is due to Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to acquire Oculus VR, the company behind the increasingly popular Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, for $2 million.
Oculus has been an up-and-comer in the VR field for quite some time now, impressing gaming aficionados with its Rift device. If the name rings a bell, it’s probably because you’ve heard it namedropped as one of Kickstarter’s biggest success stories to date; it surpassed its original $250,000 donation target on the crowd-funding platform, ultimately raising over $2 million.
It makes sense, then, that Zuckerberg would be keen to get in at the ground floor with this burgeoning property – by teaming up with a leader in virtual reality, Facebook has something of a monopoly. But a large number of consumers weren’t so happy with the deal, and took to Twitter and Reddit to blast their beloved Oculus for selling out, with many even going so far as to cancel their pre-order of the flagship product.
“People who donated money to the Oculus team on Kickstarter in exchange for a T-shirt or a ‘sincere thank you’ were not happy to see the headset’s creators sell out for 10 figures,” writes Dino Grandoni at The Huffington Post. Meanwhile, Markus Persson, the creator of ‘Minecraft’, stated outright that he would be rethinking his plans to create a version of his game for Oculus Rift, tweeting the following: “We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.”
Taylor Hatmaker at ReadWrite outlined three potential outcomes of this deal. Oculus Rift could thrive under Facebook’s umbrella, with access to the company’s seemingly limitless resources. Or alternatively, the ambition and innovation that brought Oculus so far could begin to wane; “Oculus, which was once an open platform for virtual imagination, now answers to a corporate overlord,” Hatmaker points out.
The third scenario posited by Hatmaker is something of a compromise, wherein Oculus continues to develop, and Facebook reaps the advertising rewards that are intrinsic to the immersive experience offered by the Rift. Or at least, it will if people are still willing to actually buy the device.