Admit It: Oculus Rift Sold Out

Oculus Rift sold out faster (and for $17bil less) than What's App.

Yesterday's news of Oculus Rift striking a deal with Facebook ruffled the jimmies of early backers and investors of the small company. Many have claimed that Oculus VR is dead to them and has completely lost their support.

Unfortunately, I am also one of those people. I will not support Oculus Rift.

Oculus Rift's Kickstarter was an incredibly succesful one. The company raised almost $2.5 million dollars from both wealthy and common backers (9,522, to be exact). Oculus became more and more popular around the gaming world as they began to show off units at events like PAX and E3. 

So what's the difference--they got money from Kickstarter, what's so bad about them receiving money from Facebook? Doesn't this open up new opportunities?

It certainly does. Keep in mind, however, that Facebook will ultimately decide the direction in which the Oculus Rift will go. The major difference between receiving funding from Kickstarter and being bought by Facebook is this:

  • Kickstarter doesn't imply shareholdings by the backers. The backers donate money to ideas that already exist and that they think are worth investing in. Projects on Kickstarters certainly listen to backer feedback, but the company is under no obligation to make any changes requested by backers.
  • Facebook owns Oculus Rift. Facebook is a publicly traded company with stockholders who absolutely have a say in what that company does--it's the sacrifice a company makes in trading stock. Stockholders own portions of the company in terms of how much stock they own. Oculus VR will do exactly what Facebook tells them to do.

Oculus Rift, when it was only meant for games and entertainment, was a wonderful idea. From what we know, you would buy games, play games, and then enjoy whatever other forms of entertainment available.

Ad placement (if there even was any) was completely left to developers because the Rift was PC-based. There was no Facebook log-in required (and if you think there won't be once you actually own a Rift, you're just kidding yourself). The claims made by angry early investors probably aren't far from the truth. Aside from the inevitable ads, one user predicts that now the Oculus will use "... highly sophisticated metadata collection of users for profit."

We've gone from an innovative way to play games to an innovative way to make oodles and oodles of money, and people are mad.

Sure, the Oculus was going to make money once it was released to the public. That's what happens for companies who produce platforms. However, this was not done through awful social media gimmicks and ads--it was done through hard work and patience and faith in an idea.

Facebook is known for its obsessive collection of user data and intrusive ad revenue. The target market for Oculus (gamers, averaging between 20-30 years of age) is the exact market that Facebook is losing because most of us commonsense folk are tired of being constantly tracked. Coincidence? I doubt it. Mark Zuckerburg is anything but stupid. 

Facebook is not known for releasing hardware, is not known for releasing games of the calibur expected of the Rift, and is not known for releasing software. They're actually fairly disrespected in the tech community because of their business practices.

So what's to stop Facebook from having its way with our former VR darling? Well, nothing, anymore.

Even Notch has pulled development of Minecraft for VR--those saying that it'll show up on that platform anyway can expect some modded version, to be sure, but the fact that Notch is avoiding Oculus is a telling sign.

You got my respect before I met you. You kept it when I met you. I understand that this happened because people with investments in the company saw big sacks of dollar bills. I understand you're probably under a big NDA and stuck in golden handcuffs, and that this might be a frustrating situation.

I just hope you got your fair share. VR will live on. Thank you for being part of making it finally happen.

I really wish this hadn't happened.

-- Notch (via Reddit)

I'm not mad that Oculus Rift is selling out. I'm just done with it.

I'm just stating, here and now, that Oculus Rift isn't worth its salt anymore. Luckey can say all he wants that they work independently, but everything he says (yes, everything) is being filtered through Facebook's PR. He can't say whatever he wants about the deal, the company, or his intentions--because none of them are his, anymore. They're Facebook's. 

You can say all you like that this guarantees gamers quality hardware, software, games, whatever. But keep one thing in mind:

Facebook doesn't give a shit about gaming. Facebook gives a shit about Facebook, Facebook's numbers, and Facebook's shareholders.

Former Staff Editor

whale biologist.

Published Mar. 26th 2014
  • Samuel Franklin
    Featured Contributor
    Definitely also sad about the news.
  • GabrielKross
    Featured Columnist
    In a few years you'll find out Sony has secretly owned Facebook the whole time. Genius if it were true but we all know it's not. Hint hint Sony go buy facebook.
  • Federico Senence
    Featured Contributor
    I really was looking forward to it and thought nothing could go wrong! But alas, like a TMNT movie done by Michael Bay, it is sure to disappoint!
  • Chris Coccaro
    Correspondent
    I laughed so hard at that Simpsons pic. Personally I see Facebook using Oculus technology for not only "games" as we talk about them on this site, but moreso using in multiple arenas:

    1) Dating. Instead of getting 2D photographs, we could interact with other people without the stereotypical dangers of meeting a stranger from the internet for a cup of coffee.

    2) Interviews. Facebook is always buying other companies that have any use in data collection (aka what happened to Instagram), so I could definitely see them utilizing a Linkedin-esque company and shoving VR interviews to other companies. Convenient for people to put on their Rift in their bedrooms for an interview halfway across the globe, and offices save money on conference room space since they can dial people in remotely. This is done on a daily basis currently via Skype, but I can see HR wanting to catch more than words and a smiling face (ex: how you've dressed, if you have a nervous tick, things like that).

    3) Obvious gimmick-y Farmville type applications.

    At the very least, Oculus technology is getting a spotlight and maybe we will see Valve take a stab at their own devices. Maybe we see the next version of Google Glass integrate with VR. It's hard for me to be mad that Facebook was the first big company to jump on the technology, but if I contributed to that Kickstarter I'd be mad too probably. XD
  • Kate Reynolds
    Senior Intern
    Occulus definitely sold out - which has me wondering if Ouya ever had offers before it (before it fizzled). I'm pretty mad about this and now I'm soooo glad I didn't give any money to that Kickstarter.
  • Ryu Sheng
    Simple question, did you genuinely believe a kickstarter fund of 2.5mill would lead to a working in the store model?

    Rift was always going to need a big investor to come in with a deep wallet to make up the shortfall, which would run into hundereds of millions. It's not a simple thing or a cheap thing to create something from the ground up, especially not something as complex and intricate as VR.

    If it hadn't been Facebook it would have been someone else. I personally don't like or use facebook, but they're no more evil than google or microsoft, they just happen to get caught more often
  • Katy Hollingsworth
    Former Staff Editor
    Facebook isn't ~investing~ in Oculus, they just flat out bought it. There's an insane difference that a lot of people aren't grasping.

    Those deep pockets may be nice, but if you don't think FB has plans to get ridiculous returns on this purchase, you're kidding yourself. There's no such thing as 'free', and the resources that FB is giving Oculus are going to come at a price. Maybe not right away, but some day.

    If Luckey had any patience at all, Oculus VR would have made the same amount of money in a little more time, rather than selling out to FB and angering an entire community of consumers and devs--then they could have kept control of their company.

    Sure, he got a quick buck now, but was it worth the long-term cost of distrust, disdain, and the growing amount of betrayed disinterest?
  • Ryu Sheng
    As i said if it wasn't facebook it would have been someone else, so lets get down to it. would you trust microsoft or google with your data? Both of whom admited recently to giving it all away?

    I'm interested to know where you think he could have gotten 2bill from his own though. Patience is great, but when you've got a company you need to consider more than just what you might gain in the future, you have to consider the here and now. When you've got property and people to pay for it puts a whole new dynamic on things.

    Personally i don't like or use facebook, But at the same time you can't deny that it has a huge user base and is now as important for business as email and twitter.

    What i would say though is rather than going apeshit over nothing, wait and see what Facebook is going to do. For all you know they could decide to take a step back and let Rift run it's course until it's viable (cause it aint right now). Then as they said they'd look into uses for it beyond gaming, which i think is a solid decision.

    If the Rift was only ever for gaming it wouldn't sell, it needs to be used for more than gaming, TV, Movies, Shopping all are great paths for using the rift. That's where it'll become a device worth buying, beyond being a gimmick.
  • Katy Hollingsworth
    Former Staff Editor
    I'd rather give it to a company with a reputation for creating hardware and software and not infamy for drowning users in data collection for profit and ad revenue--Windows is still a great product, and Google is well respected. Why not Sony, or Apple? Anyone but Facebook. Seriously. Facebook is literally the toilet.

    Ideally though, Valve. Valve would be my answer.

    Like Notch said, VR is great for a multitude of uses. But no company says "here, take my money and do whatever you want while I bathe in the sunlight." Businesses don't work that way--even businesses like Facebook. I'm not arguing that the Oculus wouldn't be great for purposes that Zuckerberg has stated. I'm saying that selling to Facebook, on principle, was a shitty move because of Facebook's reputation as a company. They're not the greatest.

    **Also, bonus FYI: in 2009, Luckey said he wouldn't sell out to a big company. Those were literally his words.

    I'm not "going apeshit over nothing," I'm sharing an opinion about the state of the Rift and how I think Luckey sold out.
  • Ryu Sheng
    Microsoft will tie it to the XBone, they have no interest in PC gaming anymore, rather they would prefer people move to the console. This has been their stance for a long time now. It's why they closed down their PC gaming development houses and slowly killed off the support from their company.

    Goggle are just as bad as Facebook when it comes to gathering information on their users. Have you ever actually looked into that? When you use a google account you're giving permision to google to read through your emails as and when they see fit, and use the information contained there in as they see fit. The same goes for all the email providers.

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/21/yahoo-google-and-apple-claim-right-to-read-user-emails

    The only reason Facebook is in the limelight over their actions is the fact they weren't able to hide it as well as the other guys in on the block.

    Apple would probably buy it, but then it would just become a mac only device, or worse yet an ipad/pod/phone accessory. Not to mention apple are even worse when it comes to protecting user information than Facebook, but again they're better at burying it.

    You missed the point i was making about the investment though. Companies frequently buy new tech and give the company the funding it needs to see it to completion and then look to adapt it. Do i think facebook will be completely hands off? Probably not, but at the same time i don't see them being the over bearing ogre people are making them out to be.

    And again, pulling a quote from 5 years ago is stupid. Since then we had an almost complete world wide economy crash, banks refusing loans and hard times all around. Back then he was probably confident of being able to get independent finance, but times change and he had to change if he wanted to keep Rift alive.

    He's got a company to keep afloat, that company has people who work for it who have families to support. When you've got that resting on your shoulders you can't afford to take a moral high ground. As someone who ran a company and had to face that reality i know it best. some times shit happens and you simply have to get in there and shovel it out, no matter how bad it looks and feels.

    Better Facebook buys it than it dies off in obscurity never coming to fruition. The race is on now for who can get it out first. Rift and Sony who will win. Before the buy out it was pretty much guaranteed that it would be Sony, now it's a even race.
  • Katy Hollingsworth
    Former Staff Editor
    This isn't an issue of "who would you rather" because the obvious answer for most is no one. Luckey MADE the choice to sell--it wasn't like it was eventually going to happen regardless. Companies succeed on their own all the time. It might not be easy, but it does happen.

    The quote might be five years old, but his successful Kickstarter completed in August 2012, and he'd had private investors on the side. So no, I don't see any real reason to sell to FB--especially not for a measly $2 billion.

    I seriously doubt that this was an end-all decision for Luckey. Rift probably would have struggled some, but with units pre-ordered and games in development, they weren't a day away from dying.

    Like I said in my first statement, Sony just wins by default because hardly anyone trusts FB enough to actually buy a product from them. Sony is a reputable company with a history of games and hardware. FB has none of that. At least if Microsoft had bought Rift, it would have a chance because it'd have a solid name behind it.
  • Ryu Sheng
    If MS bought Rift we'd be having the same argument over how it would be used. You seem to be letting your hate of FB blind you to the fact that the other companies who could buy it are just as bad as FB. That is simple fact, the difference is they've been able to hide it better, but even that is changing as their practices are coming out of late.

    As for Sony, why would they buy when they have their own. Sure they could buy it and merge the two together, which is what would have happened. But then you'd be here complaining about how he's sold out to Sony.
  • Corey Kirk
    Featured Columnist
    lol I never thought that in the span of a few days Sony's Morpheus now looks more appealing.
  • Katy Hollingsworth
    Former Staff Editor
    Right? Maybe it's all a clever ploy by Sony...
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    You go Katy!!

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