Admit It: Oculus Rift Sold Out
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.
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.