Facebook Purchases Oculus Rift

St. Scholastica's Student Newspaper
The Cable
Photo credit to businessinsider.com

Photo credit to businessinsider.com

By Ellen Hansen

Over the summer of 2012, Oculus VR announced after receiving a generous amount of support on Kickstarter that they were to release the game-changing "Oculus Rift". Unlike others of its kind, this virtual reality head set is small, relatively easy to use, and available to developers for the astoundingly low cost of $300. While the Oculus Rift is not yet available to the public, its existence holds the potential to drastically change the way we experience games down the line. At the moment, research is also being done on how this technology may be used in the medical and social fields.

Now, it seems, the fate of Oculus Rift has been placed in the hands of Facebook. The company purchased the virtual reality set toward the end of March, paying Oculus VR $400 million in cash, $1.6 billion in stock, and an extra $300 million if certain financial goals are met by the time the deal has closed in the second quarter of the year. Under this deal, Oculus VR will still maintain a level of autonomy, failing to be controlled entirely by those who run Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg, the infamous founder of the Facebook empire, posted on his social networking site on March 25th, explaining the reasoning behind this purchase. He explained that "[Facebook's] mission is to make the world more open and connected," and that the acquisition of the Oculus Rift would serve this mission well. Zuckerberg continued by expressing his adamant enthusiasm for recent events writing, "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." Those at Oculus VR share the sentiments of those at Facebook, looking forward to the massive amount of opportunity for development this financial break could provide.

Unlike the two companies involved in the transaction, many members of the gaming community have become infuriated by this purchase.

Minecraft's founder, Markus "Notch" Persson even went so far in his revolt as to cancel a previously-announced Oculus version of his popular game. Many others share the man's desire to boycott the Oculus Rift following Facebook's acquisition, concerned mainly with the networking company's previous tendencies to dull the creative freedom of developers. Many of those who financially backed the virtual reality set on Kickstarter feel cheated as well, complaining that Oculus "sold out" before even releasing a consumer version of the product.

Scott Redig, a UMD student who works with the technology on a regular basis, commented, saying "I am cautiously optimistic about the purchase. Facebook doesn't have much of a history in the area, so the purchase was very surprising."

While he acknowledges the grievances of gamers everywhere, he feels this transaction will give Oculus VR the funding it needs to do things such as develop screens that are made specifically for the virtual reality set as opposed simply using cellphone screens as they've done in the past.

Despite the mixed opinions on Facebook's purchasing the Oculus Rift, the technology maintains the potential to change the way we experience things in the future. While no one is quite sure at this point what will become of the virtual reality set, we can rest assured the Oculus VR continues push forward.