Rather than taking out his torch and pitchfork, Sean Knight is thinking of how the Oculus team can benefit from its acquisition by Facebook
Last week it was revealed that Facebook would be purchasing Oculus VR for $2bn. Since then, many consumers have spoken out against the deal, even going to the ridiculous extreme of sending death threats to Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey and his family. All this, despite the fact that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Luckey have explained that the Oculus team will be left alone to work on the virtual reality (VR) tech.
So is this deal a bad thing?
First and foremost, it has brought a lot of attention and public awareness to the Oculus Rift. While gamers have known about it, and supported it, this news means that non-gamers are now becoming aware of VR technology. More awareness means more interest, which then turns into more potential sales when the Rift is finally released.
With $400m in cash from the sale (Facebook stock makes up the remaining amount) the team can develop the technology faster. Not only that, but the Oculus Rift, when it is finally made available to consumers, could potentially be much cheaper than anyone initially expected. Currently, the Development Kit 2 costs $350. But what if this deal led to a consumer version being priced under $200?
On the twenty-third episode of Press Pass we talked about this subject and, while my colleagues were not overly enthused, I look at this as an interesting avenue for the technology. Obviously, Zuckerberg is looking at how to use the device in conjunction with his social platform. Some people seem to think this means a complete overload of Like buttons, advertisements, and friend’s inane status updates (just kidding, buddies).
Even then, would having a Like button readily available while playing a game be so bad? One of my favorite things about Tropico 4 is its integration of Twitter and Facebook (when it worked). I could instantly take a screenshot and post it to both platforms to share with people.
Then again, those who are outraged over this Facebook deal are gamers who seem to want the Oculus to be for gaming and nothing else. Yes, the Oculus Rift will be able to immediately improve horror and flight combat simulator games. These are the most obvious avenues for the device when it comes to video games.
But why can’t it be applied in other ways as well?
What if, because of Facebook’s backing, we could have a new type of cinematic experience through the Oculus? Instead of driving to the theatre, paying an exorbitant amount of money for a ticket, then getting swindled when purchasing snacks, we could just stay home, put on an Oculus Rift, pay $2, and watch the movie in a virtual movie theatre environment?
The same could be done for historical landmarks, museums, and zoos; virtual representations built as realistically as possible that we can walk through,paired with the ability to instantly share on our Facebook pages. Such a feature would need to be unintrusive yet readily available for those who are interested in sharing things.
Which is anyone with a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account – among many other social media platforms.
Hell, what if a new way is developed that changes the experience of just reading a book because of this deal. We just don’t know. Imagine just plopping the VR tech on your head to read a book with a camera that allows you to just swipe your hand to the right or left to turn the page? Perhaps it would allow you to copy and paste a particular part that you like so you can post it on your timeline or Twitter account. Personally, I’d prefer this method over reading on my Nook Color or smartphone if I didn’t have a physical copy to read from in the first place.
We have to remember that, while this deal is going through, the Oculus VR team is being left to its own devices. The collaboration between Facebook and Oculus may be an odd one, but look at Google. It has its hands in all sorts of pies yet it started out with a search engine. Now it is purchasing robotic AI companies, and even thermostats and smoke alarms.
There is no telling what will come about with Facebook, and there is no need to be griping about it before anything has happened. For now, this deal is a great thing for Oculus and VR in general. The team has funding, and exposure and awareness are at an all-time high for both the device and VR in general, and we could get a better and cheaper product sooner than we expect.
There is no denying that there are other companies that would have been a perfect match for Oculus. Valve has dabbled in VR technology and Google certainly has all sorts of resources at its fingertips; both would have been a good choice for purchasing Oculus VR. But Facebook might come up with some really interesting ideas and uses for the Oculus that Valve and Google might never have considered.
So instead of getting riled up over nothing, let’s just sit back and see how this new partnership turns out. If Facebook turns the Oculus into something we don’t like, then we can criticize and decry it for all we are worth and, most importantly, speak with our wallets by not purchasing it.