Print 49 comment(s) - last by KoolAidMan1.. on Mar 28 at 10:44 PM

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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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.

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