Cliff Bleszinski, video game developer and former design director for Epic Games, has weighed in on Facebook's acquisition of Oculus VR. He's all for it — not because, as an early investor, he stands to make "a very sizable chunk of money" from the acquisition, but because he sees the potential of what the deal can do for virtual reality. And it's more than just virtual reality video games.
"When a company raises money from venture capitalists the end game IS acquisition," Bleszinski said in a lengthy blog post. "While it might have been interesting for a dedicated gaming company to purchase Oculus it might have ultimately limited their potential in regards to the myriad of things that the Rift is capable of. I want games, but I also want virtual tourism. PTSD treatment. End of life quality comfort care improvements. Treatment for a variety of fears. Architectural visualization. Pilot training. Scuba training. The list simply goes on, and on, and on. Start to imagine a VR experience that’s more social where you can sit, say, in a virtual IMAX with your best friends who all live in different cities and things start getting incredibly intriguing."
When Facebook purchased Oculus, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared a vision "to make Oculus a platform for many other experience," but also promised "immersive gaming will be the first."
Bleszinski also talked about the business aspect of the deal, addressing the outrage from original backers of the Oculus Kickstarter.
"Apparently some folks don’t understand that donating to a Kickstarter gets you whatever reward you’re told when you donate, you don’t get equity, you don’t get to participate in the fruits of a sale of a company like that," he explained. "Oculus crowdsourced traction from enthusiasts and then found the proper partner that can fund them and assist with bringing the platform of VR to the next level. Crowdfunding can only take you so far, especially when you’re doing something this ambitious. “I donated money to add value to a company that was eventually sold!” Well, that’s kind of how business works, folks, hate to be the bearer of bad news."
Of course, one of those early supporters was none other than Markus 'Notch' Persson, creator of Minecraft. Notch, who had been in talks of bringing a version of his hit indie game to the Oculus Rift, canceled the deal as soon as he heard of the Facebook purchase. He referred to Facebook as "creepy" in a blog post further explaining his actions.
Towards the end of Bleszinski's post, he added: "Notch, your cancelling Minecraft makes you look like a pouty kid who is taking his ball and going home. It’s a bratty and petty move and it saddens me greatly."
What do you think about Facebook's $2 billion purchase of Oculus VR? Do you, too, see the full potential of virtual reality or would you rather a dedicated gaming company have bought it?