The firestorm that is the Oculus VR-Facebook backlash continues to rage out of control. Yesterday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made a surprise announcement that his company will acquire the startup virtual reality company for $2 billion. News of the deal has sparked furor among the gaming community, with one particularly high profile name, Mojang owner Markus “Notch” Persson, announcing the cancelation of plans to develop the Oculus Rift for Minecraft.
“We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus,” reads a tweet on Persson’s Twitter page, “I just canceled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.”
The 34-year-old Swedish programmer explained that while he still wants to be at the forefront of the virtual reality movement, he didn’t think of social media, especially from Facebook, as something Minecraft should be a part of. “Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform,” he said, “There’s nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me. And I did not chip in 10 grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.”
Persson, who has also written a detailed and passionate blog post about the news, isn’t the only person who backed Oculus Rift in its Kickstarter days who is displeased. The VR company’s Kickstarter page has been flooded with angry comments from many backers demanding a refund. One comment by “Brodie Hannibal” reads: “I supported this because it’s something that I’ve wanted to see become a reality since I read my first William Gibson novel. Now I find out that I might as well have handed my money right to Facebook and I feel a little sick.” while another by Wilson Bilkovich reads: “I’m impressed; usually forms of media have to come into existence first before they are taken over and ruined by ad companies. This may be a new record.”
Indeed, Oculus VR, which have yet to put out a consumer version of the Rift, were bought by Facebook in three days, an astonishingly brief amount of time for a deal of its magnitude. Additionally, a New York Times article that cited an unnamed source involved with the deal claimed that Facebook intends to eventually redesign the Oculus Rift and rebrand it with Facebook’s own logo and interface. Facebook, whose stock dropped by over 6% after announcing the acquisition, have since then denied the report.
Some believe that the acquisition spells good news for Oculus and the proliferation of VR technology, with Nigel Lowrie of Hotline Miami fame saying, “”Ultimately if Facebook allows the Oculus platform to get into the hands of more people, gamers or otherwise, then this acquisition will prove to be a good thing” and David Reid, CMO of CCP Games, the company behind EVE: Valkyrie, stating: “We share [Oculus’s] vision about the future of VR and gaming and are looking forward to participating in the consumer launch of the Oculus Rift with EVE: Valkyrie.”
Still, many gamers are now placing their hopes for VR gaming in Oculus’s main competitor, Sony’s own VR headset, Project Morpheus.