The story of Facebook buying Oculus VR and its Oculus Rift device has turned into quite a big one. It all started with the rather sudden announcement in a press release that came about last week on March 25. The deal was settled for approximately $2 billion, including $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock. If additional milestones are met, the agreement will provide for an additional $300 million earn-out in cash and stock.
Shortly after the announcement, Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson had his two-cents on Facebooking acquiring Oculus VR, proclaiming over Twitter the cancellation of a potential Oculus Rift version of Minecraft, and that Facebook “creeps [him] out.” He went into further detail on his feelings on his personal website. Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski called out on Notch, comparing his Minecraft-Oculus VR deal cancellation to that of a “a pouty kid who is taking his ball and going home.”
Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR, from start to finish, took just 72 hours to settle, and a Facebook representative recently confirmed that the company will not rebrand the Oculus Rift with its own interface and logo--Oculus VR will remain pretty much independent despite its acquisition.
However, those who backed the Oculus Rift’s initial Kickstarter campaign have been reported to be cancelling their orders for their own commercial Oculus Rift. I get that a lot of people donated a lot of money to the campaign--which in itself raised under $2.5 million with over 9,500 backers--and I understand that laying down so much money for a product you felt was secure in its own independence is a very big investment.
I noticed that tensions were flaring high as last week went by, but I wouldn’t have anticipated it to escalate to such a level where death threats and harassing phone calls to Oculus employees were being rolled out like an invasive tidalwave. Personally, that’s where I draw the line. I was okay with letting this whole development fly by with the notion that a lot of people were peeved and perceived that their invested money was all for naught, but now that something serious has happened I feel like I have to step in and say that Oculus Rift backers need to calm the hell down. Seriously.
Posted on Reddit, Oculus VR founder Palmer Lucky revealed that the company expected a negative reaction from those who backed its campaign in the short term, but it did not expect to receive death threats and harassing phone calls to both Oculus employees and their families.
“We expected a negative reaction from people in the short term,” Lucky wrote on Reddit, “we did not expect to be getting so many death threats and harassing phone calls that extended to our families. We know we will prove ourselves with actions and not words, but that kind of shit is unwarranted, especially since it is impacting people who have nothing to do with Oculus.”
This kind of behaviour is absolutely over the top. Sure, I can understand the frustration and anger born from an investment that you perceive to be flying right back at you to slap you in the face with a salmon, but to go to the extent of actually picking up the phone and divulging all sorts of harmful obscenities to people who are just trying to bring something a little different to the table is just beyond the pale, it really is.
No-one deserves to be put through that kind of emotional stress--no-one. It’s a horrible thing to do. It just doesn’t make sense. I mean, those who invested upwards $275 on the Oculus Rift’s Kickstarter campaign already have their developer kits, so I scratch my head as to what that portion could be complaining about. As for those who paid less, they got a t-shirt and some other goodies, too. Perhaps they’re the ones who feel more “betrayed” by this, seeing Oculus’ acquisition by Facebook as if someone stole a drink they’d just payed for, then punched them in the gut, and then smashed said drink over their heads.
I’ll try to level with you: I went through something similar--the idea of investing in something and suddenly that something not being available or delayed, or taken from you. It may not seem even remotely similar to what some people are feeling, but the underlying comparison is there.
I pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition of Mass Effect 3 back in the day, and I had pre-ordered it from Gamestation, which has now morphed with GAME. Because Gamestation was going through financial troubles at the time, certain pre-orders had to be cancelled to ensure the company’s financial stability in the long run (which didn’t last all that long anyway). Mass Effect 3 was one of those pre-orders. That was £80 floating around in the ether. Was I upset? Hell yes. Was I angry? Absolutely. Did I curse at things that were beyond my control and beyond my scope of comprehension at the time? Definitely. Did I wish death upon the employees and families involved? Hell no!
If you can remember that you yourself are a living human being, then understand that there are living human beings with you and around you. Think of it this way: would you like to receive death threats and harassment calls from potentially thousands of different voices, screaming at you about just how much they hate you and wished that you were dead? No, you wouldn’t, because that would be hurtful as hell, and it certainly will not do well on your mental psyche. So why do it?
Honestly though, calm down about Oculus VR being acquired by Facebook. It’s a thing. Throw your tantrums if you must, but don’t go as far to mentally scar someone who may not even had a say in the deal making.