Once again my dreams are ripped from me.
Yes this is (yet another) blog post bemoaning the fact that Facebook bought Oculus Rift. Before I go onto comment why I dislike this so much, here’s some transparency points.
I wasn’t one of the many people that invested financially in Oculus Rift, so I have absolutely no financial stake in the matter. Furthermore, it was unlikely I was ever going to purchase an Oculus headset. I wear glasses because one of my eyes is long-sighted, the other short-sighted. I have not met a 3D system, or any kind of alternate visual experience system that does not give me a headache within a few minutes. I would certainly have to try the device extensively before I bought it which is a good reason to cultivate friendships with people.
Also I cannot stand Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and his organisation are a stain upon the technological world, and I’d rather cope with the annoying “3D headache” above for hours on end than have anything to do with them.
My concern about the deal isn’t particularly from a gamer’s perspective. Oculus was the next big thing in gaming, the potential of it excited me, the possibilities drove my imagination further than many other “next big things” have before. But unlike many, I’m not aghast at the thought of Farmville on Oculus Rift. I like gaming, I think the more people involved in gaming, whether that be board games, tabletop games, computer games, or whatever is a good thing. If people enjoy playing more casual games so be it. I can’t stand the elitist nature of Hardcore gamers vs Casual gamers as if they were two different things. As I see it, they are both people who enjoy playing games.
Equally my concern about the deal isn’t particularly from a financial perspective. As I said I have exactly £0 invested in Oculus. I am not one of the many Kickstarter backers who at this point feel incredibly betrayed (although I do understand, and sympathise with their point of view). If reports are to be believed Oculus gained around $91 million in funding by the end of last year, with only $2.5million of that from Kickstarter (so just under 3%) The fact that they now have been bought for ~$2 billion (although most of that is of course in Facebook stock.) means they should/may (delete as appropriate) have more funding to complete their vision. They already had gained funding additionally to the Kickstarter, and always would have done.
No what concerns me, is that I just don’t like it. I love technology, I love my gadgets, I’ve been interested in Science-fiction since I can remember, Space has always fascinated me. Maybe it’s just me being weary of capitalism, maybe I’m naive, but just once I really wish that technology was about discovery and innovation not profit. The great thing about the Indie gaming scene, and to an extent with Kickstarter, is that projects are being created that may not make a huge amount of money, but they’re being made to try and make them. People are wanting to create something to see if they can create something, not with money being the end goal. People are being innovative and daring, and yes of course they would probably all be happy if their idea made money at the end of the day, but it’s not the goal, the goal is to innovate, to try something different, to prove it can be done. Oculus Rift, whether it ever was or not, in my eyes, was about innovation, about catching the dream we all had in the 80’2/90’s that Virtual Reality could happen. It was about making that dream happen, the desire was to do it and prove that it could be done. Now even if that was me just lying to myself, I cannot suspend my belief any longer. Sony announced Project Morpheus, and someone got scared, because there was a competitor, so they sold out. It’s no longer about a brave new world of discovery, but about caring too much about the bottom line, and that makes me feel sad.