Is Facebook buying Oculus VR a good thing?
Oculus VR is a company that’s building the next-generation of virtual reality platforms for gaming. Their first product, the Oculus Rift, is a virtual reality headset that allows you to step inside digital environments and play games by actually being in them. Needless to say, it’s a very cool idea.
The Oculus Rift is supposed to be the piece of technology that catapults gaming into the future. The virtual reality head-mounted display is so immersive that many people are also speculating it will allow us to have new types of authentic social experiences without leaving our home. Users could potentially have face-to-face consultations with their doctor, sit courtside at a basketball game, or learn inside a virtual classroom. The possibilities are limitless.
Tech-enthusiasts have been infatuated with the Oculus Rift since its demonstration at E3 2012. Over 9,000 backers donated to the Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign and raised over $2 million in three days. The company was also able to raise an additional $90 million from investors and promised a consumer version of the device would be available by the end of this year.
Two days ago Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion, raising concerns about the future of the device. Although the acquisition secures Oculus’ growth, many people are concerned about letting a social media company have control of this technology.
One person that understandably isn’t skeptical is Facebook’s founder and CEO.
“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.”
– Mark Zuckerberg
The reality of living in a virtual world isn’t that far away. According to scientists at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, mind-to-mind thought communication will be possible by the year 2030. By then the Oculus Rift will have 15 years of development (along with other wearable technology like Google Glass and Project Morpheus) and virtual reality will just be reality.
Not surprisingly, many people that donated money to the Oculus project Kickstarter are feeling betrayed by the Facebook news. Some feel that Oculus used them to raise brand awareness in order to sell off the company. Even worse, this happened just months before they were scheduled to finally release the Oculus Rift to the masses.
Some game developers are also upset and even pulling out of their Oculus projects. The first to do so is Markus Persson, creator of Minecraft.
We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.
— Markus Persson (@notch) March 25, 2014
Persson goes on to explain further on his blog that although social media could become one of the biggest applications of VR, he “did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.”
There are some valid concerns being raised about what Oculus has done here, but the truth is that if it weren't for Facebook, what started as a new way to play video games probably wouldn't transform into its full potential.
As much as I’m excited to see the Oculus Rift change the way we play video games, I’m more anxious to see how it changes our lives. What about you? Are you ready for the future?