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Facebook plans to do more than just gaming

Facebook is stepping into the virtual gaming world through a recently announced purchase of Oculus VR.

According to Business Insider, Facebook is buying Oculus VR for $2 billion USD in cash and stock. A breakdown looks more like $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock.

Oculus VR is an Irvine, California-based startup that was founded by Palmer Luckey. The company launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund development of their first product -- the Oculus Rift -- which is a virtual reality headset for immersive gaming. The Kickstarter campaign reached over $2.4 million in funding.

While Facebook has seen a lot of success with games like "FarmVille," the social giant said it plans to do more than just virtual gaming with the company.

"After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "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 VR doesn't have a consumer version of its Oculus Rift yet, but it's available for developers at the moment. 

The Oculus Rift headset makes you feel like you're in the gaming environment, taking video games to a whole new level of feeling "real" beyond just graphics on your TV and movements with a controller. 

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014, the Oculus Rift "Crystal Cove" prototype was named Best of CES 2014. 

"We are excited to work with Mark and the Facebook team to deliver the very best virtual reality platform in the world," said Brendan Iribe, co-founder and CEO of Oculus VR. "We believe virtual reality will be heavily defined by social experiences that connect people in magical, new ways. It is a transformative and disruptive technology, that enables the world to experience the impossible, and it's only just the beginning."

Oculus will keep its headquarters in Irvine and continue development of the Oculus Rift. The transaction with Facebook is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.

Source: Business Insider

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The worst...
By MrBlastman on 3/25/2014 7:29:20 PM , Rating: 5
News I have heard all year! Boooooo! Hiss! Boooooooooo!

RE: The worst...
By TSS on 3/25/2014 8:01:16 PM , Rating: 2
How to kill good PR 101.

I'm not giving up on the oculus just yet... But facebook talking about a "platform" has me seriously worried. If this turns out to be anymore then a perhiphial simply owned by the same company that owns facebook i'm out right away.

If it's going to require a facebook account for anything except facebooking i'm setting fire to something. Or, yknow, just go to Sony.

RE: The worst...
By AmbroseAthan on 3/26/2014 10:00:28 AM , Rating: 5
I can't speak directly to what will happen, but I do wish more of the articles on the net included Mark's Facebook post about this as it helped alleviate some of my fears. I highlighted one key paragraph in it:

I'm excited to announce that we've agreed to acquire Oculus VR, the leader in virtual reality technology.

Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. For the past few years, this has mostly meant building mobile apps that help you share with the people you care about. We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we're in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.

This is where Oculus comes in. They build virtual reality technology, like the Oculus Rift headset. When you put it on, you enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment, like a game or a movie scene or a place far away. The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you're actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it's different from anything they've ever experienced in their lives.

Oculus's mission is to enable you to experience the impossible. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences.

Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won't be changing and we hope to accelerate. The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community, and there's a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform. We're going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games. Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook to achieve this.

But this is just the start. 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.

This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.

These are just some of the potential uses. By working with developers and partners across the industry, together we can build many more. One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.

Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together. I can't wait to start working with the whole team at Oculus to bring this future to the world, and to unlock new worlds for all of us.

Now, admittedly who knows what this will turn into but it does give me some hope that he did directly comment on gaming and that will be the first thing they focus on; to continue the work they are already doing.

If they stay true to their word this could accelerate when we see the commercial version finally ship. Personally, I am hoping to get a DevKit2 and play ESO with it!

RE: The worst...
By AntiM on 3/26/2014 12:37:34 PM , Rating: 2
I can't speak directly to what will happen, but I do wish more of the articles on the net included Mark's Facebook post about this as it helped alleviate some of my fears. I highlighted one key paragraph in it:

None of this stuff is going to work well without very good bandwidth. Unless he also has a plan to address the abysmal state of high-speed connectivity (aka... monopolies) in this country, I don't see his plans coming to fruition anytime soon.

RE: The worst...
By Argon18 on 3/26/2014 2:12:13 PM , Rating: 2
"Now, admittedly who knows what this will turn into but it does give me some hope that he did directly comment on gaming and that will be the first thing they focus on; to continue the work they are already doing. "

Don't buy into the PR hype and nonsense. Since when is Facebook a "gaming" company? Hint: they're not. If id Software or Valve bought them, I'd have some confidence in it, but Facebook?? No chance in hell.

Not to mention that start-ups always always wither and die when subjected to the bureaucracy and soul-crushing weight of a large corporation.

I'm not rightly sure what to make of this acquisition, or the Boston Dynamics one. Neither has anything to do with Facebook, and neither has customers that are in Facebook's demographic. I don't see anything positive coming out of this.

RE: The worst...
By ianweck on 3/26/2014 4:36:11 PM , Rating: 2
Simply replace the word "gaming" with "forced advertisement viewing" in Mark's post above, and I think we can all see where this is going. I'm a little surprised that Google didn't think of this first.

RE: The worst...
By aharris02 on 3/28/2014 11:18:16 AM , Rating: 2
Ads in a VR world will be inherently different from ads we see now, or they run the risk of interrupting the VR experience. I presume neither fb nor Oculus are willing to let that happen, so, if anything, expect product placement ads in social and gaming worlds.

A generic can of soda on a table gets skinned to display a CocaCola ad, for example. That's far less intrusive than banners on fb walls, and I'd expect it to only show up in situations where it won't ruin the user's experience.

RE: The worst...
By Disorganise on 3/26/2014 5:26:19 PM , Rating: 2
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.

I'm imagining a TV for the sport-side seat and webcam for the rest. Claustrophobic head-gear not required.

Incidentally - who would want to see their Dr virtually? On the rare occasion I make a visit, it usually involves touch to determine tamp/swelling/tenderness etc

RE: The worst...
By TheDoc9 on 3/26/2014 12:06:55 PM , Rating: 5
I'm not giving up on the oculus just yet..

I am, it's over for Oculus. It will now either be vaporware or will trample privacy.

This is the best possible news for Sony's option. This is going to be a good year for them.

RE: The worst...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/25/14, Rating: 0
RE: The worst...
By freeagle on 3/26/2014 8:26:04 AM , Rating: 2
So, you've had the opportunity to try it out? Cool

RE: The worst...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/26/14, Rating: 0
RE: The worst...
By AntiM on 3/25/2014 9:48:35 PM , Rating: 3
I don't know. The guy in the pic above looks like he's having a pretty good time. I can only imagine what might be going on inside the visor. Uhh...hmmm.
Anyway, I agree, a potentially useful technology just got the kiss of death. Oh well, maybe they'll surprise us?

RE: The worst...
By Samus on 3/25/2014 11:50:04 PM , Rating: 4
Ditto, seriously bad news. I'd rather a porn studio bought them.

RE: The worst...
By AntDX316 on 3/26/2014 5:55:59 AM , Rating: 2
yes facebook yes yes yes yes yes!!!!!!!

doing what you can't do in real life you can do on the PC : )

3D classrooms/seminars is going to be sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo epic and free

RE: The worst...
By AntDX316 on 3/26/2014 5:58:29 AM , Rating: 2
and facebook should buy 3DS so we can watch 3D HD w/o glasses too : )

w343243242342342423435345345345345345345343463624 632453246236453253254

RE: The worst...
By paydirt on 3/26/2014 7:10:14 AM , Rating: 2
Please tell me that DT wrote this story for April Fools and made a mistake in scheduling the article!!! F (_) CK NO! Say it aint so!

RE: The worst...
By MrBlastman on 3/26/2014 11:22:51 AM , Rating: 2
It was all over the financial websites and newswires last night. It isn't fake, this is happening. :(

RE: The worst...
By NellyFromMA on 3/26/2014 8:03:31 AM , Rating: 2
Ugh. Now you can be sure FB will try to offer immersive experiences in exchange for data-collection. Imagine an immersive ad... or maybe they'll just learn what types of tactics I take in certain situation in the ongoing attempt to figure out what type of consumer message I respond to. :/

$2 billion?
By HoosierEngineer5 on 3/25/2014 8:30:58 PM , Rating: 4
You would think they could just develop their own version for say, $1,999,999,000 and pocket the rest...

RE: $2 billion?
By DaveLessnau on 3/26/2014 10:26:25 AM , Rating: 3
I've got to agree. I don't see the barrier to entry that would have prevented FB from just developing their own for much cheaper (it looks like Occulus developed this via Kickstarter for something on the order of $77 million dollars. Plus, from what I can see, the company doesn't actually sell anything (yet).

I own stock in Facebook. So, it's kind of upsetting seeing them toss money around like this.

RE: $2 billion?
By HoosierEngineer5 on 3/26/2014 10:38:28 AM , Rating: 2
Makes me think Zuk is playing Monopoly in more ways than one.

RE: $2 billion?
By Argon18 on 3/26/2014 2:15:32 PM , Rating: 2
My personal opinion is that Zuk sees himself as some sort of Bruce Wayne. Billionaire playboy type, now he's buying up military tech and virtual reality companies as if he's about to set up a secret "Applied Sciences" division in Facebook's basement.

Zuk is a douche.

RE: $2 billion?
By Drafter on 3/26/2014 4:24:41 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, it seems like this Zuk guy is having an identity crisis using investor money.

I'm sure the ladies and gents over at Project Morpheus were excited by the news. A potentially major competitor in the emerging virtual reality market has been bought out by a polarizing company that nobody trusts and who has absolutely no creditable experience in doing what Oculus is meant to do.

ByeBye Oculus, Hello Sony Project Morpheus
By BillyBatson on 3/25/2014 9:27:04 PM , Rating: 4
This is absolutely horrible news. Andrew Scott Reisse is probably rolling in his grave, may he rest in peace. I am definitely not interested in Oculus any more there is no chance I will ever purchase it. My only hope is that Facebook runs the company into the ground and someone like Steam picks up the pieces for pennies on the dollar. Looks like I will be supporting Sony's VR initiative.

By peterrushkin on 3/25/2014 9:54:26 PM , Rating: 1
You aren't the only one.

This is the worst news since sony came out with their craptastic version.

Now we have Facebook buying this.

There goes my dreams for playing Star Citizen one day in full VR. Hell there goes my Dreams of playing it in 4K VR in a few years time.

What a sad sad sad day it is.

By sgestwicki on 3/26/2014 12:04:36 AM , Rating: 2
I am pretty sure Steam dumped the technology when they laid off a bunch of people.

So less worthy?
By ie5x on 3/26/2014 12:12:51 AM , Rating: 2
A chat app beat the next big gaming revolution IP by $17 (?944) billion!!?

PS - DT please add some new quotations in your footnotes. The dozen something that show up have gone pretty stale....

RE: So less worthy?
By TheDoc9 on 3/26/2014 12:12:27 PM , Rating: 2
Such is the world we live in... :)

dot com bust all over again
By rsmech on 3/26/2014 2:33:27 AM , Rating: 4
We have Nest, yelp, this, and others. No revenue (profits) to justify the price. Only "potential" revenue. At least Nokia, Motorola, or IBM small server division to Lenovo could be quantified, they had tangible value. Better check your portfolio because if this keeps up it's .com bust all over again.

By Tupoun on 3/26/2014 2:37:32 AM , Rating: 3
I sincerely hope it won't be something like: "Sign to your Facebook account to be able to play games" or "You are using Oculus, do you want to check our partner's special offers? Did you check on your Instagram recommended pictures? Make a Facebook account, it will vastly improve your experience with Oculus", every damned five minutes.

Or just "By purchasing and using Oculus Rift you voluntarily agree, that we can use all your personal information for our own benefit and thus you also implicitly agree with us sharing of such an information with the third party to be able to provide you with the best experience you can ever ever experience. We love you and thank you! Please click at the " I agree " button to be able to proceed further."

Those poor people who donated..
By Dukeajuke on 3/26/2014 1:04:56 PM , Rating: 2
This is exactly why I never donate to crowd funded projects. Remember that Oculus started off as a crowd funded venture. So by selling out to FB, they basically used the crowd money and made them selves billionaires..

By Solandri on 3/26/2014 5:29:06 PM , Rating: 1
I don't really see the problem. In regular venture capital funding, you give them money in exchange for part ownership and/or control of the company.

In crowd funding, you give them money in exchange for a product or special perk when the product comes out. As long as you get exactly what you were promised, what's the problem? If you wanted partial control of the company to prevent it from selling out to FB or the likes, or partial ownership so you could've had part of the $2 billion pie, you should've asked for that and withheld your money when they refused.

Dream's Dead
By someguy123 on 3/25/2014 9:04:47 PM , Rating: 2

This sux!
By ctodd on 3/25/2014 10:01:22 PM , Rating: 2
Too early for April Fools!

By p05esto on 3/25/2014 11:10:51 PM , Rating: 2
Yuck, I hate anything Facebook touches. I see Mark Z as a teenager that thinks he knows everything but really is just a fool.

and just like that
By carigis on 3/26/2014 6:36:19 AM , Rating: 2
oculus VR is dead....

By Shadowmaster625 on 3/26/2014 1:03:50 PM , Rating: 2
Goodbye Oculus, hello Sony?

I'b be surprised if Carmack doesnt wash his hands of Oculus now that facebook monster has swallowed it up. I hope he does. He'd be a fool to invest any more time and effort into something that will be twisted and perverted to sell advertising and be a backdoor for the NSA.

One thing for sure is I will never ever use this device now, and I was on the cusp of actually getting one. Sony Morpheus will utterly destroy this trash now that facebook has its meathooks into it.

it MUST be April the 1st???
By Wesleyrpg on 3/26/2014 1:27:14 PM , Rating: 2
Surely this is some sort of cruel twisted joke???

down the drain
By nikon133 on 3/26/2014 2:51:50 PM , Rating: 2
I've read somewhere - Gamespot, I think - that Minecraft developers have already stopped working on Oculus support for their game.

Hardly promising development...

By BurnItDwn on 3/26/2014 12:39:44 PM , Rating: 1
First these assholes go and acquire a perfectly fine and working instant messaging company (pretty much the only one not swamped with bloatware.) Now they are going to try to ruin the Oculus Rift as well. Guess I will have to wait for a competitor's product to come out since I have completely lost interest in Oculus.

So much negativity
By Belegost on 3/26/14, Rating: -1
RE: So much negativity
By Nexos on 3/26/2014 7:00:01 AM , Rating: 5
This might have been a smart move for FB financially but imo does not bode well for the product itself. The biggest backers, content wise, for rift were mostly "hardcore" pc gaming companies (id, Valve, Bethesda, Epic, the ppl behind Star Citizen etc) and I doubt FB has any idea what these companies and their customers want out of a device like rift. hint: it's not social media integration.

RE: So much negativity
By FITCamaro on 3/26/2014 10:48:25 AM , Rating: 2
I think he's saying that hopefully Facebook will be smart and just let the company still do its thing. If they try to extract any kind of revenue from it by shoving it out early, it will only ruin it and cause everyone who works there to leave and go start up yet another enterprise.

RE: So much negativity
By KoolAidMan1 on 3/27/2014 5:55:57 PM , Rating: 3
What does that have to do with anything?

Let's look at reality instead of doing the usual "gut reaction from internet poster" thing.

Facebook bought Instagram two years ago. They haven't touched or changed a thing with it. You don't even need a Facebook account to use it. They've done their own thing. The same thing happened with WhatsApp, that hasn't changed either. They've been very hands off with their acquisitions, acting more like a VC firm than a company that rolls up other companies and does what they will.

After thinking about it a while it seems like Facebook is the BEST company to acquire the Rift. Google buying them would be terrible, given the rate at which Google cancels products, terminates acquisitions, and mostly ships poor implementations. Apple wouldn't do anything with them until they could ship something that is distilled and perfected to what it is they want, and right now VR needs to go through an icky public "growing" phase of hacking and iteration before an optimal design is arrived at. A Microsoft acquisition would be bad since the Rift would probably just end up in the pits of MS R&D, never to emerge like so much that has gone there.

Facebook is giving them capital and autonomy. Carmack has the best words about this:

I have a deep respect for the technical scale that FB operates at. The cyberspace we want for VR will be at this scale.

Anyway, this isn't a simple thing. I don't expect internet forum posters to say "this is complicated, I should maybe wait and think about this for a bit". No, its instant knee-jerk reaction as usual. The biggest disappointment is that Notch makes business decisions like an internet forum poster does: all emotion and gut reaction. Its also hypocritical since he does business with companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Sony, companies that are even more guilty of the criticisms that he levels at Facebook.

RE: So much negativity
By Nexos on 3/27/2014 11:34:29 PM , Rating: 1
Developing an app isn't remotely similar to developing a piece of hardware. Both instagram and whatsapp were well established when they were acquired, and they both have an intrinsic link with social media unlike Oculus. Even if FB is completely benevolent to their acquisitions, leaving them to their plans, they still don't have any expertise to add to the project, beyond marketing maybe.

I agree though, that Oculus would be even worse off if it was acquired by one of the other companies you mention, none of them have a genuine desire to see a product like Rift come out any time soon. Google and Sony have their own VR projects going, Apple doesn't do gaming, and MS probably sees it more as competition to xbox+kinect. But going all the way and calling FB the BEST possible option sounds a bit like a gut reaction :P

In a perfect world I would have liked to see Oculus bought out by a company that specializes in graphics/hardware of some kind. Intel maybe, or nVidia. Maybe even Samsung or some other TFT manufacturer.

RE: So much negativity
By KoolAidMan1 on 3/28/2014 5:24:28 AM , Rating: 2
God no, Samsung would be the worst. I like good hardware. Samsung cuts corners on premium products like no other. Intel doesn't really ship completed products. NVIDIA sells a few to a very small niche of several thousand. Carmack is right, Facebook offers technical scale and mainstream reach that almost nobody else has.

All Facebook needs to offer the Rift people is autonomy and lots of capital. They're doing what few other multi-billion dollar companies wouldn't.

RE: So much negativity
By Nexos on 3/28/2014 9:30:05 AM , Rating: 2
Seems harsh on samsung to say they cut corners when FB has yet to produce any physical device in their short history, premium or otherwise. Intel and nVidia both sell computer components/peripherals in vast numbers, and have for a long time. Even talking about the Rift as a complete product (in the context of intel and nvidia supposedly not shipping complete products) starts us down the slippery path of changing the product to better fit FBs existing user base. The Rift as it is now is just a PC peripheral, and a niche one at that. Thats what drew people to crowdfund them, and thats what games developers have been working on supporting. Turning it into a standalone platform or making it integrate with some DRM/comm software (like netflix, steam or skype) would be disastrous for the original backers as well as to the potential of a device like it. (and I think this is FBs plan with oculus in the long term)

Carmacks posts should be taken with a grain of salt too. I think he is greatly overestimating the market for a device like rift. 3D TVs are less of a departure into the unknown, and the best they have managed is about 10-20% of total TV sales (not counting computer monitors or portable systems). They are used in "legacy" 2d mode most of the time as well, something that isn't really possible with rift, further limiting its usefulness as a standalone system. Head mounted VR goggles have their own problems on top of that: vertigo, eye strain, headaches, general lack of comfort (especially if you wear glasses) and the utter anti-social nature of wearing them to name a few.

RE: So much negativity
By KoolAidMan1 on 3/28/2014 10:44:28 PM , Rating: 2
Michael Abrash just left Valve and joined Oculus. He's one of the few programmers Carmack looked up to, literally wrote the book on 3D programming, and is someone Gabe Newell tried to hire at Valve for a decade.

The captains of bleeding edge technology are really trying hard to make this work. If they believe this hard in VR's potential then it is at least worth paying attention to. Right now could be like the early 90s with these same people working hard to make real time 3D graphics manifest a few years later.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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