The mood following Facebook’s Oculus acquisition isn’t particularly positive. While it’s still too early to tell what, exactly, the social network has to offer the world of virtual reality, onlookers are understandably reserved. Mark Zuckerberg’s company isn’t exactly beloved in the tech community, and many believe this is the beginning of the end for Oculus despite reassurances nothing will change. Palmer Luckey, Oculus’s young co-founder, spent hours on Reddit following yesterday’s news in an attempt to dispel concerns, repeatedly intimating that Oculus will remain independent of Facebook’s growing presence.
One of the main concerns people seem to have with Facebook being involved is that Oculus’s focus on gaming will eventually take back seat to a Zuckerberg’d grander vision of connecting the world. It’s true that Zuckerberg is focused on developing the next big platform and believes VR will be a big part of that. But Oculus has maintained that its focus on gaming won’t change, and in fact it would give the company more resources to collaborate with more developers, indie ones in particular.
“Facebook is making a long term bet on VR, not a short term run on profit,” Luckey said. “We have more freedom to do what we want now that our investment partners are out of the picture… We are ramping up our developer relations in a huge way, including investment and publishing efforts. We now have the resources to put a lot of money into indie VR content. You will be seeing some good news on that very soon,” he said.
Beyond gaming, others are upset that Facebook will control the world of virtual reality. But, according to Luckey, the presence of Facebook inside of Oculus might not be as overbearing as some people believe. “You will not need a Facebook account to use or develop for the Rift,” Luckey said. Luckey even says he’ll cease developing for the platform if he’s ever required to use a Facebook account just to develop or use the Rift.
“If I ever see Facebook branding on anything that’s not optional, I’m done,” Luckey said. “If I ever see ads on anything that I’ve already paid for, I’m done. That is a developer decision, not our decision. If someone wants to sell a game with built-in ads, they will have to deal with the natural consequences.”
While Luckey’s public comments might be interpreted as mere damage control, he sounds like the same person who was building VR out of his garage in Long Beach. Facebook’s resources and vision simply give Oculus the opportunity to reach a much larger audience, and it allows Oculus to go up against other competitors, such as Sony’s Project Morpheus. Focus on gaming will still remain, and other opportunities will be explored, too.
“Facebook has a good track record for letting companies operate independently post-acquisition, and they are going to do the same for us,” Luckey said. “Trust me on this, I would not have done the deal otherwise.”
Luckey answers many more questions on Reddit, including what his stance is on Oculus and the NSA, and why he believes teaming with Facebook is “the best thing in the long term for virtual reality.”