It has been announced by Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, that Facebook is to acquire Oculus VR – the company responsible for the virtual reality device Oculus Rift.
Via a post on his own Facebook account, Zuckerberg said:
“Oculus’s mission is to enable you to experience the impossible. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences.
Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won’t be changing and we hope to accelerate. We’re going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games. Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook to achieve this.”
He then goes on to explain what this move means for the future of Oculus:
“After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home. This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life.”
Put briefly, Zuckerberg has said that Oculus will continue any ongoing operations, potentially at a faster rate, and Facebook will not change them. In the future, the aim is to expand into making Oculus not just focus on gaming, but on creating experiences by implementing the technology into everyday-use devices, communication named as one of many potential experiences. Perhaps this could be the next step up from video calling, by using the technology to simulate a conversation where people are seemingly in the same room? We will just have to wait and see.
One person who is absolutely not ready to “wait and see”, however, is Markus “Notch” Persson – founder of Mojang, the creators of the wildly successful Minecraft. In fact, Notch took to his blog notch.net to explain how he feels about this.
In the blog post, Persson writes of how not even two weeks ago, he had started discussions with Oculus about a potential slimmed-down version of Minecraft (à la Minecraft Pi Edition) for the Rift. He then states that after hearing of Facebook’s latest acquisition, he has cancelled this project; he writes:
“Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers.”
He then goes on to say: “I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook. Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform.”
This is, in some ways, a surprising move by Facebook and an unfortunate decision by Notch – but how do you feel about these events? Do you have any concerns, any hopes for the future of VR? Let us know in the comments!