Facebook have just splurged out a massive $2 billion to buy the pioneering virtual reality company Oculus. The social networking giant bought the gaming firm for $400 million in hard dollar and 23.1 million in Facebook shares. Why? Because virtual reality is the future of social networking – of course. Well this is in accordance with Mark Zuckerberg anyway, much to the annoyance of hardcore gamers and Kickstarter campaign backers alike.
Oculus was formed off the back of an incredibly popular Kickstarter campaign that was launched to raise funds for a new breed of VR headset. Originally looking to raise $250,000 as a Kickstarter, the site went on to generate a massive $2,437,429, that was supported by 9,522 backers. The Oculus company is now worth 1000 times more than that.
The product has since been released in a beta format for developers and has thus far been received well by gaming and technology critics.
So as you can imagine, there has been some degree of outrage within the gaming community with this new takeover from Facebook. Many fear that the Oculus will not be used for its original intention, which was, of course, virtual reality gaming.
Minecraft creator Markus Persson, upon hearing the news, immediately cancelled plans of an Oculus rift version of the game stating via Twitter: “We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.” Many ordinary Kickstarter backers have also been demanding their money be refunded, citing that the product is not being, or will not be used for its intended purpose.
Amid this veritable firestorm of real life rage quitting from backers of the Oculus, Mark Zuckerberg has assured the masses that, “Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won’t be changing and we hope to accelerate. The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community, and there’s a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform,” he went on to say. “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.”
But where do Facebook’s plans lie beyond that? The purchase of oxygen? Social Networking themed home decorating? Casual world domination? We may never know but Mark Zuckerberg did have this final word.
“This is just the start. 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.”
Ground breaking entrepreneur or mad bond villain? Only time will tell, but I can’t help but feel that $2 billion seems like an awfully risky investment, seeing as Oculus VR don’t actually currently own any important patents on the technology. Proven by Sony’s recent unveiling of their own headset, mysteriously named ‘Project Morpheus’, which many have already described as technologically superior to the Oculus Rift.
Good one Mark.
Images: Sergey Galyonkin via Flickr