Tuesday 23 May 2017

Why gamers are angry at Facebook's Oculus purchase

Show attendees play a video game wearing Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets at the Intel booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show(CES) (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Show attendees play a video game wearing Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets at the Intel booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show(CES) (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Frank Whelan

Frank Whelan

Gamers are up-in-arms after social media giant Facebook purchased virtual reality firm Oculus.

Following Facebook paying $2bn for the company, the public backlash from gamers was swift and negative.

Oculus have long been a darling of gamers, having raised $2,437,429 for their Oculus Rift on crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, far surpassing the $250,000 target figure.

When Oculus began sending out prototypes for developers, game jams and conferences soon began to buzz with the early stages of games designed to maximise the device's potential.

Due to its origins, many gamers are seeing this sellout as a betrayal of their on-going support of a concept to fundamentally change gaming.

Markus Persson, the creator of the massively successful Minecraft and commonly known as Notch, wrote on the subject in his blog:

"Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build."

The blog followed a tweet declaring that Persson had just cancelled plans to bring Minecraft to the Oculus Rift.

Screengrab taken from @Notch twitter feed

The gaming section of popular referral site Reddit, soon became dominated with anti-Facebook content.

The screenshot below, shows the top story at the time of publishing was a link to cancel pre-orders from Oculus.

Screengrab from the r/Gaming section of Reddit

Facebook have stated that Oculus will continue to run independently of Facebook and will initially continue to focus on gaming. But the next steps are what concern long-term supporters.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, stated: “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.”

Oculus have tried to explain the logic behind the buy-out: "At first glance, it might not seem obvious why Oculus is partnering with Facebook, a company focused on connecting people, investing in internet access for the world and pushing an open computing platform. But when you consider it more carefully, we’re culturally aligned with a focus on innovating and hiring the best and brightest; we believe communication drives new platforms; we want to contribute to a more open, connected world; and we both see virtual reality as the next step."

While the long term results may win supporters back to the product, this deal has definitely harmed Oculus VR's reputation among its gaming fanbase. It remains to be seen whether a competitor will exploit the current mood to position itself as the gamers' virtual reality device of choice.

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