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Facebook's Oculus buyout a brutal reality

By Alex Sferrazza
On April 1, 2014

Social Media behemoth, Facebook, recently purchased Oculus - a company whose still unreleased Oculus Rift virtual reality headset has taken the video game industry by storm - for $2 billion.
Ladies and Gentleman to summarize my reaction I would like to take this opportunity to quote a line from the Chewbacca Defense.
"That does not make sense."
To say that this acquisition has upset me more than any other in the industry since Microsoft purchased RARE might be a bit of an overstatement, but not by much.
The Oculus Rift headset was initially financed in part by a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. Extremely positive word-of-mouth from those in the gaming industry who have had the privilege of going hands on with the product have led many to believe that Oculus was the real deal. For the very first time, many of us believed that affordable, true virtual reality gaming was almost upon us. From indie studios to some of the biggest publishers in gaming, a who's who list of interested parties have jumped on the VR bandwagon including John Carmack (co-founder of id Software, the FPS-pioneering development studio behind the likes of "Doom" and "Quake") who has been hired as Oculus's Chief Technology Officer. After Oculus's excellent showing at E3 2013, I firmly believed that VR tech would be the next great innovation in game design following the motion control craze started by the Wii in 2006.
Those hopes were dashed when the company was purchased not by a major publisher, but by Facebook, a social media company whose website offers up supposed games such as "Farmville" and other so-called social titles - the likes of which, as a dedicated hardcore gamer, make me want to vomit at the mere mention of their names.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg says the acquisition wasn't motivated by his company's interest in moving into game development but rather a bet on the future applications of VR technology in social media.
What this means for the Oculus Rift is uncertain. For now, the only major game developer to pull support for the device has been Notch, creator of "Minecraft" (his reasons are detailed in a glorious rant in a blog post on notch.net). But given Facebook's (lack of) gaming history and the company's direct focus solely on building its user base, I must say my hopes are not high for the future of the Oculus Rift, at least as a core gaming device.
I suppose one can't fault Oculus's owners for selling the company for a few billion dollars. Every modern day tech start up dreams of the day they will either sell a product or their company for millions of dollars.
While the Oculus Rift itself might never end up being the grand gaming product it was destined to be, Oculus' efforts have not been in vain. The extremely positive reception awarded to the Oculus Rift over the course of its development has not gone unnoticed by the gaming industry. Just a few weeks ago, Sony announced a VR headset of their own for the PlayStation 4 known as "Project Morpheus." Valve most certainly has something of their own in the works that has yet to be announced and I'd wager Microsoft isn't far behind either.
 


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