What: Facebook Buys Oculus VR For $2 Billion

By Nathan Grayson on March 25th, 2014 at 10:00 pm.

Update: Palmer Luckey has posted on Reddit about the acquisition, his perspective on Facebook’s goals, and Oculus’ continued relationship with the gaming world. “Very little changes day-to-day at Oculus, although we’ll have substantially more resources to build the right team.” Nothing about those pesky privacy issues, though.

Original story: It’s not quite April 1st yet, so I guess this is happening. Oculus VR, the daringly sexy eyeware fashion company/hobbyist virtual reality outlet has officially been purchased by, um, Facebook, of all things. It sort of makes sense, I suppose, given that VR stands to radically alter the way people communicate from long distances, and that seems to be Facebook’s focus here. Problem is, the social media goliath sent out a press release that’s full of bits like, “mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow” and hey wasn’t Oculus Rift a PC gaming device at one point? Also John Carmack works for Facebook now, and that’s just weeeeeeeeird.

Here are some pertinent bits from Facebook’s press release:

“Facebook today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Oculus VR, Inc., the leader in immersive virtual reality technology, for a total of approximately $2 billion.”

“While the applications for virtual reality technology beyond gaming are in their nascent stages, several industries are already experimenting with the technology, and Facebook plans to extend Oculus’ existing advantage in gaming to new verticals, including communications, media and entertainment, education and other areas. Given these broad potential applications, virtual reality technology is a strong candidate to emerge as the next social and communications platform.”

“’Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,’ said Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. ‘Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.’”

MOST SOCIAL PLATFORM EVER. FROM THE DANKEST CORNER OF YOUR DARKENED BEDROOM.

Seriously though, virtual reality does present some incredibly fascinating, almost Matrix-like possibilities for communication, as I discussed with Oculus and CCP during D.I.C.E. And while having Facebook’s bulging monetary muscle hoisting Oculus like in that one scene from Titanic won’t hurt, it does mean Facebook will likely get to call some shots down the line. For now, though, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg implied that Oculus will get to keep doing its own thing with games.

“Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won’t be changing and we hope to accelerate,” he wrote in – what else – a Facebook post. “The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community, and there’s a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform. We’re going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games. Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook to achieve this.”

But that is apparently just the start, and Facebook’s eye is very much on communication applications. Zuckerberg proposed examples ranging from attending a basketball game courtside to consulting a doctor to attending class. And you’ll never have to leave your home. Hurrah? I am honestly not sure how to feel about those examples, but I suppose the hope is that one would take the VR magic carpet across oceans and continents – not to their village grocer, metalsmith, or alchemist.

There is also the issue of Facebook’s sometimes rather dubious approaches to privacy, targeted advertising, and the like. I am not sure that’s something I want bleeding over into my virtual reality – let alone defining the entire movement, given how nascent it still is.

At any rate, this is all still fresh and crazy. I’ve contacted Oculus with some questions, and I’ll let you know as soon as I hear back. In the meantime, I hope they don’t change the Oculus Rift’s name to the Facebook Face.

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365 Comments »

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  1. Spacewalk says:

    Foculus Rift?

  2. Mctittles says:

    “from attending a basketball game courtside to consulting a doctor to attending class”

    Uhh… I don’t think he understands what the oculus is. It isn’t magic for one. If this were possible we would be doing it already with webcams and our monitors. A 3d peripheral isn’t going to change that.

    Where are the cameras? How do you move your head? How is everyone going to be courtside at once?

    The doctor would have a better time diagnosing your injury if you used a webcam, how is putting on the occulus going to make things easer? You can’t see the other person by magic.

    Guy sounds like a complete idiot.

    • TCM says:

      “If this were possible we would be doing it already with webcams and our monitors. ”

      We are, yes. Those are all currently things we can do using the magic of the internet. Not as well as in, say, science fiction, but you get the idea.

      Occulus would just make it a bit more personal, is the idea.

      I wonder if it wouldn’t be possible to use some sort of camera with a wide FOV courtside to create a virtual space where you could ‘look’ left and right…hm. That actually bears some thinking about. BRB going to patent office.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        Place a couple of those wide angle surround view whatever cameras in some good locations. Hook them up to the internet. Sell the same seat to (potentially) thousands of people.

  3. Lemming says:

    Well maybe I should pick up one of the devkits before we get the Facebook’ed version. I don’t want my eyes data-mined, thanks.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Stellar Duck says:

    Not that I had any interest in the Rift before but this just cemented it.

    Not for me.

  5. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    So, here’s one for y’all. Given Oculus Rift was kickstarter-ed, are Facebook in any way obliged to fulfil the Oculus Rift’s kickstarter promises/aspirations? What happens if they take things in directions that the kickstarter backers don’t like? (Or have all kickstarter requirements been met by know, making this all moot?)
    I’m not asking because I backed OR, I’m just genuinly curious what the legal shenanigans might be as this is the first case I’ve heard of (there may well be others, I don’t know) where a kickstarter product goes under new ownership.

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      Without scrutinizing it too closely, as far as I can tell the original OR Kickstarter pledge was specifically for the developer’s kit. That’d put them well in the clear by this point.

      • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

        Fair enough. I thought that may be the case, but was just something I wondered anyway.

  6. Donjo says:

    Didn’t see that coming. Shite.

  7. Loyal_Viggo says:

    In the words of Derek and Clive, “What a fucking cunnnnnnt!”

  8. NotToBeLiked says:

    I was very, very excited to see VR succeed this time. But if that means Facebook might stay alive longer because of it, I’d prefer it if VR fails again. I’ll wait another decade then.

    Also, despite the actual obligations in a Kickstarter, selling out to some big horrible company after a few years is not what that is supposed to be about. It was supposed to be about getting the money together to create something those big companies would not invest in. Getting people to chip in and then selling out to Facebook is a dick move. This will not only cost the Occulus a great deal of goodwill, but will affect the entire Kickstarter scene. If people start thinking that great idea they want to help someone create will just end up in some evil company once the risk has gone away, they’ll think twice before pledging again. I know I will.

    (And yes, Facebook WILL fuck this up. That company hasn’t done anything to improve anything, ever.)

  9. Premium User Badge

    slerbal says:

    Well that kills that for me. I was keen to get one, but now it is dead to me. I wouldn’t touch anything that Mark Zuckerberg’s paws have touched.

    • captain nemo says:

      Wow – talk about screwing your fan base. Won’t go near this now.

  10. racccoon says:

    LOL yep, what a waste of shareholders money. This proves the purpose of Oculus = Money! and eyes before lawsuits. clever.
    One minute he moans about Sony power, now he don’t moan about anything, but getting away with the biggest fraud out there.

    • TCM says:

      Fraud?

      Fraud.

      FRAUD.

      Fraud?!

      Fraud.

      FraudFraudFraudFraudFraudFraudFraudFraud

      The word is now as devoid of meaning to you as you used it.

      • Loyal_Viggo says:

        Your propensity for mendacious circumlocution is insuperable.

        • TCM says:

          I have been referred to as loquacious by manifold plebs. I suspect inherent logorrhea may be at fault.

          • Loyal_Viggo says:

            I direct your attention to Derek and Clive, their sketch, “This Bloke Came Up To Me”.

            That is all.

  11. Premium User Badge

    slerbal says:

    Shit! I just realised that this now officially makes the Oculus as creepy as Google Glass…

  12. Premium User Badge

    AngelTear says:

    I can already see OR games requiring a Facebook account much like Ea games, even through Steam, require an EA account and a login to the EA servers.

  13. Tei says:

    Final Shotdown:

    John Carmack (for Facebook) vs Total Biscuit (for Walt Disney)

    (tb, if you are reading this, sorry for using your public figure for a joke)

  14. notevenbotherered says:

    I feel like my dreams have been raped. I feel dirty.

  15. TCM says:

    In completely unrelated queries, does anyone have a method to prevent yourself from spending over an hour looking at and posting in a comments section?

    • Premium User Badge

      caff says:

      Strap an oculus rift on your face and stare at the gently glowing black screens as you realise your hopes and ambitions have died.

      • TCM says:

        You have won the “My favorite response on RPS ever” award. I have nothing more to add or say that would make that a more fitting post, so I will bow out.

    • itsbenderingtime says:

      I actually have something for you on this. If you have an adblocker, you can use it to hide parts of a webpage that you don’t want to see. It’s designed to block text ads, but you can use it to hide comment sections or any other visual garbage that you find on webpages. And then you can just disable the adblocker if you actually DO want to participate in things every now and again (like me, right now).

      Just think, you’ll never have to be aware of another internet fight about feminism again!

      If you want, I can post the rules I use to make the web antisocial again. I would post them now, but I’m on my wife’s laptop at the moment and my baby twins are asleep, so I dare not move from where I sit.

      Oh, and a friendly reminder: https://twitter.com/AvoidComments

      • TCM says:

        I have never loved another human being unrelated to me as much as I have loved you right now, at this moment.

        So long, suckers, off to regain my sanity!

        • itsbenderingtime says:

          Here are my filter rules that get rid of just about everything that I dislike, including comments, anything twitter, and anything Facebook. This suite is pretty aggressive, and will sometimes block something that I would like it not to, but you can tweak it to fit your purposes. I use AdBlock Plus for this, but the syntax seems to be pretty standard:

          ##*[class*=”Comment”]
          ##*[id*=”social”]
          ##*[class*=”comment”]
          ##div[class*=”conversation”]
          ##*[class*=”tweet”]
          ##*[id*=”share”]
          ~facebook.com##*[class*=”facebook”]
          ##*[class*=”twtr”]
          ##*[class*=”twitter”]
          ##*[id*=”tweet”]
          ##*[id*=”twitter”]
          ##*[class*=”share”]
          ##*[id*=”Share”]
          ##*[class*=”Share”]
          ##*[id*=”Comment”]

          If you’re HTML-savvy, it’s pretty easy to write your own domain-specific rules too. There’s a whole tutorial about this if you want to go down the rabbit hole: https://adblockplus.org/en/filters.

          • itsbenderingtime says:

            There is one notable downside to this, in that it will block Lord Custard Smingleigh’s comments along with everyone else’s. I have not yet figured out how to tweak the rules so that I get nothing but Lord Custard Smingleigh comments. True happiness yet remains out of reach.

  16. Premium User Badge

    caff says:

    If you think about it rationally, given the funding they had so far, do you think they could they have ever really mass produced and marketed the product without massive financial backing on this scale?

    If I was given $100m (Oculus had Series A funding of $16m and Series B of $75m) I don’t think I’d confidently be able to setup a scalable manufacturing plant, attract and the best new electronics and LCD panels, global distribution network, online and in-store retailing shipping distribution network that could transform the world etc. etc.

    • Mctittles says:

      Sure they could have. Wouldn’t be the first company to make deals with manufacturing companies for x amount of orders for x amount of discount. It’s pretty common really.

    • Convolvulus says:

      That’s a false dilemma. As the technology improved, more investors would come along for the ride. The company’s options weren’t limited to either selling out to Facebook or making do with the funding they had so far.

  17. Koltoroc says:

    That is the day occulus rift died.

    I don’t want anything to do with anything facebook has their hands in, period. I missed the kickstarter, but if I had backed, I would be furious beyond imagination.

  18. MkMax says:

    i used to have some hope about this project…… aaaaaaaaaaaaand…… its gone

  19. Eery Petrol says:

    So Team Oculus, first you let the gaming community sponsor your dev kit and then you not only sell the product but your entire company to Facebook? This feels like a cruel sellout.

  20. Ny24 says:

    I guess that all the backers are pretty angry right now. They wanted to support a young startup to further the VR dream. Now they are supporting pure evil. I’m curious about what Mark Zuckerberg/TCM have to say about this.

    • TCM says:

      What does Turner Classic Movies have to do with anything? Time Warner’s a whole different brand of evil.

      • Jim Dandy says:

        Turgid Collegiate Mumbler?
        Trite Capitalist Mouthpiece?
        Talking Crap, Mainly?
        The Cat’s Mother?
        Whatever the initials signify, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that you’re a titanic c**t, mate.

  21. Synesthesia says:

    I WILL NEVER LOVE AGAIN

  22. Sidewinder says:

    Oh, merciful heavens- I thought people wouldn’t shut up about this thing before… But now it won’t just be the gaming nuts, it’ll be everybody…

    Well, I’m off to join the Amish for a few years. Anyone wanna come with?

  23. remon says:

    I’m gonna go burn three copies of the Social Network DVD now.

  24. Premium User Badge

    quietone says:

    YESSSS! These are wonderful, wonderful news! I cannot be any happier!

    *mouthing silently* They are watching.

    • TCM says:

      I thought that was obvious, there’s a Facebook game ad riiiiiight…THERE! RUN!

  25. Shooop says:

    …And exactly how does this investment make any sense for Facebook? They have zero hand in making video games or movies. They don’t do anything but provide a service to ad agencies.

    • Mctittles says:

      I was wondering that too. Judging from what is quoted in the article he might not be getting what he thinks. Seems he thinks that by wearing the occulus you are going to be able to get 3d information from basketball games and also be able to see other people like your doctor in 3d.
      He might be disappointed to learn it functions more like a monitor, and less like a wormhole into another wearers location.

  26. Mctittles says:

    I would never have believed if someone told me a year ago that John Carmack was going to leave id to work at facebook.

  27. moisn says:

    You have to love scum like TCM when they show up. It means you are doing the right thing.

  28. kzrkp says:

    Fuck.

  29. trjp says:

    I’ve been droning-on about how this is a dead-duck in tech terms – Facebook acquiring it really only pops a cherry on that (both in the fact they just acquire things to prop-up their lack-of-a-business model AND the fact it will alienate the 9 out of 10 of the people dumb enough to want one)

    Facebook see a ‘Google Glass’ thing here I think – not having noticed that Google Glass is also a dead duck (so dead they’re trying to put a RayBan tag on it so that people won’t notice it’s deadness)

    Facebook and Google are really just ‘acquiring shit’ these days – there’s no logic to it, they’re simply shoring up their apparent worth with stuff to keep investors confused (tho anyone who bought Facebook shares is WAY more than confused).

    Now we can get on with stuff without noticing this ever again – please – thanks

  30. Geebs says:

    On the one hand: goddamn it.

    On the other hand: this is as nothing to the lamentation in Mac gaming circles when MS bought Bungie.

    • drinniol says:

      Oh god I was like 12 when that happened, it made me sads :(

  31. DatonKallandor says:

    Well I guess I’ve got a bigger game budget now that a couple hundred bucks are freed up from not having to buy a Rift.

    • Rukumouru says:

      Don’t worry, if this thing actually catches on (what with Facebook ruining it and all), there’ll be plenty of competitors so you can keep your money out of Facebook’s evil money-grubbing hands.

  32. Scumbag says:

    It is now simply the “Rift” as that is what this event has caused.

  33. satan says:

    First thought was that oculus rift sounds a bit too exciting for facebook, wonder what they’ll rename it.

  34. altum videtur says:

    DON’T YOU WORRY YOU’LL BE TOLD EXACTLY WHAT TO DO

    • Rukumouru says:

      Consider your Metal Gear Rising reference acknowledged and agreed with.

      • HugobertingtonEsq says:

        I GIVE MY PEOPLE THE LIVES THEY NEED
        THE ROACHES WILL SUCCEED

  35. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Now that I’ve calmed down from my initial rage (sorry, all of New England), I can rationally say that this news makes me very sad. I previously liked all of Oculus and talked about them excitedly to anyone who would listen. Now my excitement will be chock full o’ buts.

    I’m still excited for the hardware because of the newfound purchasing power and hardware R&D money this theoretically provides to Oculus, BUT there is the chance that undocumented, obfuscated, “poke around and we sic the lawyers on you” hardware will start seeping in. On the software side, Facebook does have some open-source chops, and I hope dearly that they allow Oculus to continue or even improve their open ways. So much good could come of that for all parties, especially if Facebook lets the world freely use and improve their libraries while making gobs of moneydollars on in-game-advertising simulators. In that case, I’ll be perfectly happy playing all the other games that don’t suck and may or may not be based on those libraries. Along similar lines, I’ll be interested to see if Facebook subsidizes Rifts, simultaneously fulfilling the Oculus dream of making great VR affordable to all and the Facebook dream of spreading virtual crack snorting (yes, snorting entire boulders — nay, mountains — of crack) to all corners of the Earth.

    I’ll definitely be on the look out for non-PR, action-oriented reactions from individuals at Oculus.

    • Enkinan says:

      Crack is smoked, not snorted

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        Makes for a more absurd/amusing/disturbing mental image though, eh? Hence the boulders and mountains. Also, Facebook is all sorts of wrong in general.

  36. quarpec says:

    “Zuckerberg proposed examples ranging from attending a basketball game courtside to consulting a doctor to attending class. And you’ll never have to leave your home.”

    except all these things are already possible and have been for some time. how does a helmet / 3d headache generator make it better?

    this thing is a novelty and is gonna fail hard

  37. Jack Asterson says:

    “All this means is that we have more available resources! Nothing else!”

    Yeah, we heard that from Blizzard when they merged with Activision and from BioWare when they joined EA.

  38. draekris says:

    Well I just deleted my facebook account. http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7i41heDNm1r5r8duo2_500.gif

    • Shakes999 says:

      You just posted a hyperbolic comment.

      2 minute countdown til TCM comes to browbeat you before smugly cranking it to his own post.

  39. trajan says:

    Noooooooooooooooooo!!!

  40. Enkinan says:

    I’ve been pretty excited for this to come out for awhile, now I’m just bummed.

    Don’t underestimate the hoards of idiots out there. Facebook will sell it cheap and jam all kinds of money generating ad and data tracking to it, and people will buy them like hotcakes to seem like they are on the edge of technology. They have already proven that the majority of people are too stupid to give a shit about their personal data, people are used to it now.

    :(

  41. Premium User Badge

    Ditocoaf says:

    “Welcome to your new Oculus Rift! To get started with installation, first log in to your Facebook account to register your device. [Facebook Connect] If you do not have an account, click here to join!”

    “Based on the games you’ve been playing, we’ve come up with a sponsored list of recommended titles for you! Would you like to post them on your profile?”

    “To help our customers better connect with friends and family, our Oculus Scan data-tracking system, which was previously opt-in, has been modified to be opt-out.”

  42. Premium User Badge

    Tunips says:

    Sure would have been nice if that kickstarter had come with a few shares.

  43. Fellhuhn says:

    Zuckerberg is just a little sad nerd who never got loved by anybody. So he buys all the expensive toys so that someone will play with him. Sad. Really really sad.

  44. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    With Carmack on board, Facebook is surely Doomed.

  45. Tuor says:

    Obligatory: It was as if millions of tech and gaming geeks suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly forced to get a Facebook account.

    • Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

      Oh noes! Everyone, run to unexploited prairies of infinite possibilities and penguins.
      To the steam machine, now!

  46. Lobotomist says:

    Nothing good has ever came from this type of “exit” transition of company under the wing of big one.
    Can someone give me one happy end example ?

    Or is it always just happy end ? Like it was for good doctors of Bioware ?

  47. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    582+ people liked this article on Facebook.

  48. Misha says:

    Facebook today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Oculus VR, Inc., the leader in immersive virtual reality technology

    So if they’re “the leader”, who’s number two?

    A hitherto unknown company who ALSO doesn’t have a finished product but haven’t even come up with a story about How Great It’s Going to Be One Day™ yet?

  49. killmachine says:

    i actually minimized my browser and checked if it’s really not april 1st.

    sadly, this lets my enthusiasm shrink a lot. on the other hand, palmer and carmack seem not too impressed with the whole nsa scandal a few months back. so, maybe it’s alright? probably means one thing as well: the consumer product will be cheaper.

    • Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

      I can’t see, how any highly demanded, unique product that owned by a big “near-to-monopoly” status company, will be cheaper.
      For example, look no further than skype and their pricing index.