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Posted on
March 27th, 2014

Facebook buys Oculus

Oculus VR have recently announced that they have been acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. The company started in 2012 when tech whizkid Palmer Luckey opened a Kickstarter that garnered $2.5 million for its founder. You can pre-order prototypes and early investors have been sent models, although reviewers have described these as “a little rough”.

Zuckerberg apparently thinks VR is ‘really cool’ and has expounded on the potential commercial / life benefits; visiting a doctor, watching a game, or studying remotely. The virtual socialisation benefits seem like a natural progression for Facebook. Additionally, the purchase of a new and innovative ‘Smartglass’ application could be a side swipe at Google and the ‘Google Glass’ glasses which are rumoured to be developing VR functionality.

However, fans of this grass roots start-up are wary of the acquisition, suspecting it will taint the original direction of the company. Medium and smaller backers vary between supportive and utterly furious – many are demanding their investment (an average of $300) back. The pledgers largely comprised indie developers who actively dislike Facebook – on the ‘Comments’ page of the Oculus Kickstarter page, the words ‘betrayed’, ‘saddened’ and ‘disappointed’ abound.

 Some high level investors feel outright cheated; Markus “Notch” Persson, creator of the super successful ‘Minecraft’ game, said “I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.”

He also stated that he was cancelling a deal with Oculus VR because “Facebook creeps me out”.

 It’s possible that Facebook will help develop the Oculus Rift beyond its original gaming capacity, into a more comprehensive and marketable technology. They have a good record on acquisitions, namely Instagram and Whatsapp, and claim that they will not try to make a profit on the hardware. However Zuckerberg has mentioned adverts, which could be an entirely new species of intrusive and inescapable adware.

We could be witnessing the birth of a new and exciting collaboration that will transform how we work, play and live. Or the all too common scenario where an indie developer is bought out by big business and simply disappears. Only time will tell.

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