Oculus/Facebook Fallout: What Happens Next?
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It’s been a few days since Facebook announced that they would be buying out Oculus VR. We already covered the initial backlash from the announcement. Now it’s time to see how things have developed. Here’s a small spoiler… the internet is still blowing up.

Previously we mentioned how Kickstarter backers have begun flooding the Oculus Rift page with complaints. Now, they are taking it one step further. A thread on Reddit has popped up, describing how to cancel your Oculus Rift order. It even includes instructions on how to ask for a full refund, though for now it’s unclear whether or not anyone has actually succeeded in doing so.

Fans are arguing back and forth about whether or not the Oculus Rift buyout is a good thing, but some of these fans aren’t actually even fans. Users on Reddit have spotted an interesting pattern in the comments defending the purchase of the Oculus Rift by Facebook. Multiple different usernames have posted the same comments in the same patterns in multiple threads. Some people are saying that these comments are coming from paid employees of either Facebook or Oculus VR, while others are simply saying they are made by Reddit users trying to stir up trouble.

Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey has also been incredibly busy on Reddit, trying to run damage control. He has been trying to assure fans that this is all for the best. He says that Oculus VR continues to operate independently from Facebook. He has said that Mark Zuckerberg will not control the Oculus Rift’s future and that you will not have to have a Facebook account in order to use the Oculus Rift. He assured fans and donators that this was not a monetary decision. Instead, he believes this was the correct decision for seeing the future of VR blossom. He has assured us that the Oculus Rift will not track us, flash ads at us, or do anything invasive, and he is certain that a year from now we will see that this was the correct choice. Most importantly, he says that this deal actually gives Oculus VR more freedom, not less. The extra money allows the company to work on focusing on the future of VR without worrying about immediate revenue.

Facebook has also responded, trying to assure gaming fans that the Oculus Rift will not be changed. A New York Times Report said that the Oculus Rift would eventually be rebranded with both the Facebook logo and user interface. However, a Facebook spokesperson told re/code that this is not the case. Facebook, supposedly, has no plans to rebrand the device at all. In fact, the consumer version hasn’t even been finalized yet. The only version of the headset that is currently available is the devkit set, which won’t be changed by Facebook in any way.

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However, it’s not just Oculus VR fans that are disappointed in this deal. Facebook shareholders also don’t feel as if purchasing Oculus VR was the right move. Facebook shares have been falling steadily since the announcement of the acquisition, going as far as to fall nearly 7 percent in one day.

It’s to be expected. The deal came out of left field, surprising supporters of both companies. Deals like this tend to take weeks or months to finalize, but the buyout of Oculus VR took only 72 hours. "We got the deal done with Facebook in three days. That's how accelerated it was. We locked ourselves up in the Facebook HQ and did the deal," Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe told VentureBeat. "I have been through a few of these deals now and they usually take months. This was done in three days. That's incredible. That's their commitment to moving fast. We are moving fast and getting together to make the next computing platform." Unfortunately, the speed at which the deal was made still seems “shady” to some people.

Iribe went on to say that the deal will allow Oculus VR to sell the headset at a much lower price. "'What if we partner with you? You stay the same. Stay who you are. You expand that vision and focus on other things also. Gaming is core. But how can we help and invest significantly into the platform, the hardware, and bring down the cost of it. We could make it more optimized, do custom silicon, make this even better. What if we also invest in the parts so you can sell the virtual reality platform at cost?,'" Iribe recalls Zuckerberg saying. "It would use the best components and build a superior technology platform. Then let’s sell it at cost."

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Finally, the Oculus VR/Facebook Fiasco has effected more than just Facebook and Oculus VR supporters. IT has gotten game designers to start in-fighting too. As a result of the partnership, Notch canceled an Oculus Rift version of Minecraft saying that “facebook creeps him out.” Renowned designer Cliff Bleszinski didn’t take that statement well. He responded to Notch’s cancellation in a blog post saying “Notch, your cancelling Minecraft makes you look like a pouty kid who is taking his ball and going home. It's a bratty and petty move and it saddens me greatly.” Notch responded to this accusation by saying “I'm a man driven by principles, not capitalism, so I guess I'll just have to get used to the occasional name calling.”

Cliffy B’s blog post went on to say that there is so much more potential for VR beyond just games, and that Facebook can help this happen, what with its loads of money and multi-billion dollar user base. "I want games, but I also want virtual tourism. PTSD treatment. End of life quality comfort care improvements. Treatment for a variety of fears. Architectural visualization. Pilot training. Scuba training. The list simply goes on, and on, and on," Bleszinski said. "Start to imagine a VR experience that’s more social where you can sit, say, in a virtual IMAX with your best friends who all live in different cities and things start getting incredibly intriguing."

He also said that Kickstarter donators have no place to be outraged over the sale, because they have no say in the matter. "Apparently some folks don’t understand that donating to a Kickstarter gets you whatever reward you’re told when you donate, you don't get equity, you don't get to participate in the fruits of a sale of a company like that," he said. "Crowdfunding can only take you so far, especially when you're doing something this ambitious. 'I donated money to add value to a company that was eventually sold!' Well, that’s kind of how business works, folks, hate to be the bearer of bad news."

That’s about the end of our updates for today, but stay tuned for next week, when we are sure the internet explosions will continue. Until then, why don’t you discuss the buyout in the comments. Do you still support Oculus VR or are you jumping ship after the Facebook acquisition.

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

Senior Contributing Writer
Date: 03/31/2014

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