The Oculus community is up in arms about the latest news that Facebook will purchase Oculus for $2 billion. Read the latest Oculus blog post about the acquisition. It is a near uniform wall of discontent. Oculus fans can’t stand the fact that after going to the public at large with their very successful Kickstarter campaign that the company would sell-out to a major corporation, and worse, sell-out to Facebook. The comments speak for themselves:
“Pack it up, the dream is gone.” “Sellout DICKS. You should refund every dollar.” “This a big disappointment.” Yet none of these Oculus fans have read any of the fine print about this acquisition. None of them have reviewed the deal spelling out how Facebook will enable Oculus to realize its vision of creating the next generation VR headset that will fully realize the potential of VR, tantalizingly suggested oh so many years ago by the likes of such pop ephemera as ….Lawnmower Man.
Just as important, let’s examine some of the issues surrounding this deal. Why did Palmer Luckey succumb to the lure of Facebook? Was it because he realized the sudden competition brought on by major players, Sony and Microsoft, would require a great deal more capital than his company had already raised? Sony recently unveiled its own PS4 virtual reality headset called Project Morpheus. PS4 is set for release this November. Next up is Microsoft, which is also working to bring a virtual gaming experience to its Xbox lineup, according to a Wall Street Journal writer, Ian Sherr.
Sherr writes, “At least one iteration of Microsoft’s technology was based on a concept known as ‘augmented reality,’ which often superimposes animation on a display along with images of the real world, people familiar with the project have said. Devices like the Oculus Rift, by contrast, show only computer-generated images.”
Now when you’re faced with competition that has millions at its command, the only way to fight the onslaught is by fighting back with millions more. Luckey must have felt that even with the millions he’s raised from KickStarter and the SDKs already sold, he didn’t have enough capital to outpace Sony or Microsoft. Why don’t any of the Oculus fanatics see this?
Zuckerberg is no idiot. He also realizes that in order for Facebook to survive and thrive in the 21st century it’s going to take more than just reliance on his social networking platform. Usership among teens has declined for Facebook. There’s no guarantee that Facebook will not one day be replaced by another social networking platform. Zuckerberg needs to explore other verticals to create new channels of profitability. Zuckerberg has stated that FB users spend about 40% of their time playing games, and about 40% on social communication. Sony and Microsoft do not have a social media platform of their own that rivals Facebook. Zuckerberg believes his platform can infuse Oculus with the vitality needed to overcome the competition by Sony and Microsoft.
If Zuckerberg allows Luckey to create the VR headset of his dreams and not FUCK IT UP, then the current batch of Oculus haters will turn back into Oculus fans and apologize to Luckey for making the smartest decision of his young professional life.