War never changes and sometimes you can see it from a mile away. This is what is happening in the virtual reality space. First, the folks at Oculus VR unveiled the Oculus Rift; a gaming VR headset meant to usher in a new era of games. Then, as the Oculus gained popularity, Sony decided to create its own VR headset in what is now known as Project Morpheus. Seeing the excitement over these two VR companies, Microsoft decides to state that it is researching its own way to let us experience fully immersive worlds.
All of this brings about a slight breeze of war scented with technological malevolence with each company trying to say that their version of VR is the best.
However, what really solidifies the impending VR war and prepares the virtual battlefield is the newest of news that Facebook just purchased Oculus VR for two billion dollars. Two billion dollars.
This is big and not because Facebook may have just ruined any gamers’ dreams of gaming exclusivity. It’s big because now Oculus VR has a solid financial base, where it can go head-to-head with the multi-billion dollar Sony. It now has a solid chance to become the leader in the virtual space while also bringing Facebook closer to looking like Google.
What does this mean for us, the gamers?
First off, we can kiss any hope of Oculus Rift being the next great gaming platform. Facebook, although once a leading proponent of casual gaming, has never been a core gaming company. It is in the business of creating social structures that suck us in and claim to make our life easier, then keep us there by being convenient. They are NOT a gaming company. And this non-gaming company just bought a technology marketed to core gamers.
Sure, it’s exciting to think of the possibilities that a Facebook VR platform will allow us to experience. Imagine going to the Superbowl with your family, all while safely tucked away under your XXL snuggie, drinking hot cocoa. Except, that scenario does not show a focus on gaming. It is a focus on things outside of gaming, and that is where gamers get their concerns.
We are so concerned about this acquisition of Oculus VR by Facebook that twitter exploded at the news as gamers everywhere reacted negatively to it. The creator of Minecraft, Markus Persson, decided to cancel any development of an Oculus version saying:
“Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.”
However, he makes sure to point out that using VR for social experiences is not necessarily bad.
“Don’t get me wrong, VR is not bad for social. In fact, I think social could become one of the biggest applications of VR.”
We are the ones that win?
Now that Facebook made this move, Sony knows it has major competition. Microsoft knows it too. All three companies will try to one-up each other to try to control the VR battlefield. You know what that means for us? We will get better quality products, regardless of which company we end up supporting with our wallets. So, the tech will be awesome and full of quality, but let’s make sure we keep the pressure on these companies to make the games WE want, not the ones that will only fill the corporate pockets.
Thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Comment below!