Virtual reality is something that many people were once skeptical of, at least until Oculus Rift came onto the scene, blasting through a Kickstarter project and becoming one of the most talked about gaming devices of the decade. But no one saw this coming: yesterday, Facebook announced it was buying the company for $2 billion (compared to the measly $2.4 million the company received via its Kickstarter campaign).
This announcement led to a lot of nerd rage, not just from backers of Oculus Rift, but also from video gamers and game developers. Game developer Markus Persson, known as the man behind Minecraft, was so stunned that he canceled development on a VR Minecraft game for Oculus Rift. The stock market also responded with a drastic decrease in the value of Facebook stock.
The anger might be well-placed, but we have to ask: why is this important? Well, we’ve already seen Oculus Rift get some competition this week, from Sony, a company with resources that Oculus couldn’t even imagine. By selling the company to Facebook, Oculus now has resources that allows it to compete in the new emerging VR market. If Oculus Rift wants to continue being at the forefront of virtual reality, it needs to get there first, and Facebook’s funds will help it do that.
This acquisition also opens up virtual reality to more than just gaming. Virtual reality could make social media more interactive and take something like the Second Life experience and make it seem almost real. Virtual reality can even apply to business: imagine a conference call where you are sitting in a room with other call attendees and can have face-to-face conversations without having to travel miles to do so? And Facebook has many other ideas for the technology. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, said:
“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.”
So although we all love to pick on Facebook, they have a point. Virtual reality for gaming is a great concept, but it seems that both Oculus and Facebook want it to do more. And you know what? It should: this is how virtual reality will become mainstream.
Via Business Insider