Facebook Buys the Oculus Rift and the Internet Explodes
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If you haven’t heard the news by now, then you have probably been hiding under a digital rock. The Oculus Rift, the new virtual reality headset that has made such a splash in the world of Kickstarter, indie game development, game technology, and more has been bought out, and by Facebook no less. The social media giant has purchased the studio for an estimated two billion dollars. This includes $400 million in cold hard cash, and 23.1 million Facebook shares, which are valued at $1.6 billion all together. The deal also includes performance based payout options that could earn Oculus VR $300 million more in both cash and stock if the Oculus Rift does well enough.

Here’s what Facebook had to say about the acquisition.

Facebook plans to extend Oculus' existing advantage in gaming to new verticals, including communications, media and entertainment, education, and other areas. Given these broad potential applications, virtual reality technology is a strong candidate to emerge as the next social and communications platform.

Infamous Mark Zuckerberg went on to say,  "Mobile is the platform of today, and now we're also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow. Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play, and communicate."

According to an article in The New York Times, Facebook is actually looking to totally redesign the Oculus Rift hardware. The Facebook logo will feature prominently on the new headset, and the interface will be much like the Facebook U.I.

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But not everyone is happy about the Oculus Rift becoming “the most social platform ever.” First and foremost are the Oculus Rift Kickstarter backers. The Oculus Rift Kickstarter page has been absolutely flooded with complaints from donators who did not exactly sign up for the headset to become a toy of Facebook. The consumer version hasn’t even come out yet, which was basically what most of the donators were waiting for. Several donators are saying that this goes against the spirit of their investment, and some have gone as far as to ask for a refund.

It’s not just random internet complainers that are sketched out by this new Oculus Rift deal. Markus Persson, AKA Notch, also isn’t thrilled with it. He was in talks with Oculus VR about bringing Minecraft to the VR platform. However, now that this deal has been made, Notch has pulled the plug incredibly fast. “We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft in Oculus,” Notch tweeted. “[But] I canceled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.”

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That being said, the creator of the headset, Palmer Luckey, is far more optimistic. Palmer said on Reddit:

When Facebook first approached us about partnering, I was skeptical. As I learned more about the company and its vision and spoke with [Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg], the partnership not only made sense, but became the clear and obvious path to delivering virtual reality to everyone. Facebook was founded with the vision of making the world a more connected place. Virtual reality is a medium that allows us to share experiences with others in ways that were never before possible.

Facebook is run in an open way that's aligned with Oculus' culture. Over the last decade, Mark and Facebook have been champions of open software and hardware, pushing the envelope of innovation for the entire tech industry. As Facebook has grown, they've continued to invest in efforts like with the Open Compute Project, their initiative that aims to drive innovation and reduce the cost of computing infrastructure across the industry. This is a team that's used to making bold bets on the future.

Luckily, there is hope for people who want to see the Oculus Rift go indie once again. A tiny little educational game, Frog Fractions 2, is currently running a Kickstarter. They are asking for $50,000 just to get their tiny project off the ground, but they do have one hell of a stretch goal. If they manage to reach two billion dollars… which would be impressive for sure, they will simply buy Oculus VR back from Facebook!

Angelo M. D'Argenio
Angelo M. D'Argenio

Senior Contributing Writer
Date: 03/27/2014

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