Interview: Oculus’ Luckey Promises Big Pre-Facebook

By Nathan Grayson on March 26th, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

Now here’s a weird thing: when the news broke that Facebook had suddenly made Oculus VR’s reality much, much greener, you want to know what I was doing? Transcribing a last-day-of-GDC interview with… Oculus Rift’s resident wonderchild, Palmer Luckey. In retrospect, he almost certainly knew his company would be under Facebook’s globe-spanning blue umbrella come Tuesday, but that obviously never came up. Instead, Luckey spoke enthusiastically about Oculus’ future in gaming, his company’s research into interfaces that can simulate arms and legs in VR, all the while batting away assertions that Sony’s PlayStation VR mega-mask Morpheus is any sort of threat. So here you have it: one of the final Oculus interviews ever pre-Facebook. Let’s see how it all holds up. 

RPS: How are things going with the consumer version of the Rift? How far along are you?

Luckey: Very good. We haven’t announced a release date, but we know what we need to ship. We spent the last year researching and developing what we need to ship for our great consumer virtual reality experience, and we figured it out.

RPS: Is the consumer version gonna resemble Devkit 2, aka Crystal Cove, aka not Intel’s Sandy Bridge, which I always get it confused with?

Luckey: No. It’s quite a large improvement. That kit is the best technology that’s available today, but we need to be even better. And we have a lot of improvements.

RPS: In what areas?

Luckey: Higher resolution, lower latency, higher refresh rate, much lower weight, a few other things.

RPS: There’s obviously a number of various VR options here [at GDC]. Have you tried out any of the others that are at the show?

Luckey: Yep.

RPS: Which ones?

Luckey: I won’t say, but there’s nothing that’s even close to what we’re doing, in my opinion.

RPS: Not even Morpheus, Sony’s uncrowned (and unopposed) king of console VR?

Luckey: Nope.

RPS: Are you worried about exclusives in the future? Obviously you have EVE Valkyrie locked down on PC, but Sony snagged it on consoles. What about further down the line, though? Seeing as Oculus is the only thing that even remotely counts as a competitor, what happens if Sony starts trying to pick up exclusives on all platforms, PC or not?

Luckey: Who cares? People have always done this. Every platform has always had exclusives. There’s gonna be a lot of people who would rather work on PC, where there’s going to be a lot more power to work with, than a console that’s going to remain stuck for the better part of a decade.

RPS: You also have a big advantage on the experimental front. Oculus is a fairly open platform. People can’t, for instance, workshop a crazy idea and have it up and running on PS4 in, like, a day.

Luckey: That’s why there’s hundred of experiences that have already been made for our platform that are things that could never be done on a traditional gaming platform, and we learned so much from being open, and getting that kit out to people, not just working with a few golden developers behind closed doors.

RPS: What happens, though, if Sony goes for a game you really want on Oculus? Maybe even one that was originally created and promoted on Oculus? Do you try to outbid them?

Luckey: I don’t see that one. We don’t have plans to get into bidding wars. I think the benefits of our platform are pretty apparent, and I don’t think Sony can just go out and just buy every VR experience.

RPS: Fair enough, but why did you bother to lock down EVE Valkyrie as any sort of exclusive if you don’t care about exclusives?

Luckey: Not talking about Valkyrie. Ask them. We’ll let them speak for themselves.

RPS: OK then, to put it in another way, do you think you will try to sign other exclusivity deals in the future?

Luckey: I mean, we didn’t sign that deal because we wanted the exclusivity. We signed it because we were co-publishing the title and funding the title, because we thought it was a good title to be investing in. It wasn’t about buying the exclusivity to prevent other people from having it. It just happened that we were the only platform at that time. We want to continue to invest in games and publish games.

RPS: The other side of it is that you have your own in-house development that’s staffing up right now. How much is that about providing support to other game developers and creators? Is aiding in game development one of your central priorities?

Luckey: Yeah, we very much are, that’s why we have such a strong developer outreach team, and developer support team, because we want to help every developer as much as we can if they want to make a VR experience. That’s what we’ve been doing this whole past year with things like our game jam, and with our sharing website, and with our developer forum, and with all of that staff we’re hiring around developer relations.

RPS: Meanwhile, you’ve also been pretty adamant that you view Oculus Rift and the very concept of VR itself as a platform, while companies like Sony are more keen to make it about extending the capabilities of preexisting platforms.

Luckey: We’re focusing explicitly on VR. That’s the only thing we care about, is the best VR experience. We’re not making compromises to work with existing hardware, or making compromises to try and cut costs so that we can use existing accessories, we’re trying to build something from the ground up that is the best VR experience in the world.

RPS: All that said: You seem to be of the opinion that that Oculus and VR in general has a good chance of renewing interest in high-end PC parts, and high-end PCs because it obviously takes a little more oomph to run that kind of thing. But at the same time the PS4 is a high-end machine, or at least a mid-end, a mid-tier machine that can run VR games.

Luckey: Mid-tier in relation to… your cup of coffee? My cellphone?

RPS: My cup of coffee. Seriously though, relative to the highest-end PC parts right now.

Luckey: Sure.

RPS: Conventional wisdom says, people look at their options and say “Well, do I want to put in the time and money to secure a really good PC, or do I want to get a PlayStation box that is pre-made for me?” If both have a VR options, what do you think most people will pick?

Luckey: I think that’s a very complex question that depends on what we do in the future, largely. But, you know, whatever your assessment of consoles is today, relative to PCs, that’s going to be much different a year from now, and then five years from now, and then eight years from now. One of those is going to remain the same, the other is going to move really really fast. The top of the line PCs from a few years ago are the $300 back to school special laptops. And that’s only taken a few years for that to happen.

That’s going to continue to happen in the PC space. And there’s gonna be a lot more power on both the high end and even on the low end for VR than any other platform.

And then the other thing is, I think it’s a bold choice to say, will people buy a PC for VR or buy a console for VR? Because most people have a PC. Not everyone has a high enough end PC to run VR but in a couple of years, like I said, all PCs are going to be a lot better. even the dirt cheap ones. It’s more a question of, I already have a PC, which do I want to buy to have VR now?

RPS: But there is still the issue of PC sales declining. And instead of upgrading or buying a new machine, a lot of people are saying, “Well, an iPad more or less does all the stuff I’d buy a PC for.” At least, I get the impression that’s what people outside the hardcore PC gaming crowd are saying.

Luckey: Sure, but people are not going to stop using laptops and PCs in favor of iPads. It just will not happen. Tablets are a huge growth market. That’s not a saturated market. Not everyone has a tablet yet, but everyone already has a PC. So it makes sense that you have slowing sales in one and growing sales in the other. It doesn’t mean that PCs are on their way out. Sales may be going down, but their use is not. People are still using PCs, hugely, in a huge way.

RPS: Does your work with Valve factor into that at all? Obviously, they’re trying to take PCs to new places with a Steam Box for every season and occasion, so I imagine that’s fairly exciting for you guys.

Luckey: You know, we’re building a VR experience. The core hardware is the same either way. It’s not like these machines are much cheaper than their identical equivalent hardware-wise. It’s just a really good living room experience.

Their OS is built around living room use, not VR use. So maybe it’ll be a big deal for us at some point, but right now you can’t do VR with a Steam machine, and their focus is living room, not VR.

RPS: How has it been working with Valve on the whole? What sort of advances have they helped you make that you couldn’t have achieved on your own?

Luckey: I think it’s elevated not just us, but everybody, because, us and Valve, we’re going out there and doing speeches on how to make VR games, how to make VR hardware, and saying, you know, what the bare minimum is. You’ll notice that there’s a lot of similarities between our talks, Valve’s talks, and now Sony’s talks, so it’s more about sharing with everyone in the ecosystem, than specifically elevating either of our sides.

RPS: Was that Valve VR prototype from Steam Dev Days really as night-and-day different from Oculus Rift as some people were saying? Was it really that much better?

Luckey: Oh from Development Kit 1, yeah. I mean, from what we’ve been shipping to that it was a huge jump. But I mean, our DK2 is very very similar and our consumer product is superior to it, so it’s not like it’s some magical unicorn that can never be achieved, it’s hardware that’s already being surpassed.

RPS: You’re very PC-focused at the moment, but what happens next? Do you think you’ll expand to other areas, especially given that you now have competition encroaching on things like console and mobile?

Luckey: Maybe. I mean, we’re not ruling anything out, but right now we’re focused on PC and mobile.

RPS: How do you plan to expand into mobile? What’s happening there?

Luckey: That is the long term end-game for the mobile hardware. We’ll get as powerful as top of the line PCs today, and you’ll be able to build it into the VR headset for next to nothing. That means you can do a lot of different things without being tethered to an expensive box, it can all be in the headset itself, and it’ll take years to get there. It’ll take years to get to an experience that is as good as the PC one today, but it is- that is the eventual endgame.

RPS: What do you think, when all of that technology consolidates and streamlines, when you have that form factor, of just all of that power in such a small thing – what do you think happens to the openness and hackability of PCs?

Luckey: I don’t know. I have no idea. I know that VR has a lot of demands that are not necessarily suited to PC. Like, you want to have everything as responsive as possible, preferably you’d have a real time operating system, but it’s gonna be a while until we get there. I don’t know what it means for everyone, though.

RPS: So that’s your optimal form factor for VR, but what about optimal input? I mean, keyboard-and-mouse is barely doable, and controllers work a little better, but they’re hardly perfect.

Luckey: Gamepads are an acceptable input, not an optimal input. Keyboard-and-mouse is terrible. For VR. I love it for everything else.

So we’re doing a lot of R&D around input. I think the key thing is that input is a misnomer. It’s not about input, it’s about input AND output. And VR is all about that. Our headset is not just a display device. It’s a device that measures what you’re doing in the real world, feeds that into the game, then feeds you back the appropriate signal.

I think that VR input devices need to do the same. They need to be able to reach out into the world, input data into it in a natural way, and then also receive haptic feedback out that matches what you should be feeling, as closely as possible. And that’s not light shaking or buzzing, which is all that we have right now. Getting shot, your hands are shaking. Running, your hands are shaking. Earthquake, your hands are shaking. Not enough gas in your car, your hands are shaking. That’s not nearly good enough.

RPS: Do you think we need more varied haptic feedback, then? Like, material that can both rumble and change consistency/texture?

Luckey: You want something as close as possible. I mean, actual force feedback is tough, but skin sheer and texture simulation are feasible in the near future.

RPS: Where is that tech right now? How much can you get of that for an affordable price point?

Luckey: Quite a bit. We are researching everything that we think needs to be done to make a perfect VR experience, and input is one of those things.

RPS: How far do you want to take that? Do you just have, like, a Holodeck room in your offices?

Luckey: No, we’re not looking at Holodeck style stuff. But we’re trying to get as close as we can with other technological options. I can’t go into all the details because we’re still researching and developing. We won’t wanna promise anything we’re not sure we can deliver.

RPS: OK then, let’s stick to the basics. You want to get hands as involved in the process as possible, but what about legs? I mean, I just tried the Omni Treadmill, and it doesn’t feel like walking at all. It was just disorienting and kind of painful, slipping around in that awkward bowl-floor and whatnot.

Luckey: Yeah, it’s that it’s not quite like normal walking, it’s that it’s nothing like normal walking. Locomotion through space is not isolated to a single system. I mean, it’s not an isolated conscious system. It’s a lot of systems working together consciously and subconsciously. When you start walking or stop walking, you’re actually either burning a lot of energy to get moving or to stop moving.

I mean, we weigh hundreds of pounds. We’re like a magic grocery cart loaded with groceries. It takes a lot of energy when all that weight is moving to stop it, you know, you’re running and you stop. And your brain, and your body has trained your entire life, to know exactly how to stop your body from a walking or running state.

The problem is, with something like an omni-directional treadmill, you’re not actually running. You have no inertia, you’re in space, you never built up anything, so your brain goes through all these routines, trying to keep your balance and stop running, and then goes off balance because the response is nothing like what should be there. The muscle response is the same, the body response is the same, and your vestibular system isn’t giving you any acceleration cues.

The only part that’s right is the actual movement of your legs, and our legs have probably the poorest proprioception – that is, sense of self, knowing where parts of your body are – in the whole body. Like, dancers and ice skaters have generally very good senses of proprioception, but they have to in order to do the kinds of things they do. Our legs have really terrible proprioception in general, compared to our hands or our arms.

RPS: Right. It’s why I’m so good at tripping over my own two feet without even trying.

Luckey: There’s techniques like, in military VR, around redirected walking, which is the idea that you can, you can turn people slightly more in the virtual world in certain circumstances than they actually are, and that works because our legs suck at telling us where we are in the world. Our visual sense and our vestibular sense is overwhelmingly more powerful.

So I don’t think that tricking the weakest of all of our locomotive senses is enough to make you feel like you’re really walking through the environment. And having a harness that holds your whole waist, that’s the only reason you don’t fall over.

It’s not just, oh it feels a little off, and I’m kind of stumbling, it’s… you would just keel right over if it were not for that holding you in place, before anything close to what you’re doing in real life, your systems would work in sync, and you’d be able to at least stay upright.

So I think locomotion devices are interesting, and I think that they’re going to improve rapidly, but I don’t think any of them solved locomotion today, because on a fundamental level, they are not able to solve the biggest problem, which is dealing with your balance system, all the way from your brain to your feet, when you’re accelerating and when you’re decelerating.

RPS: So you’re quite well-versed in this stuff, but is Oculus as a whole putting in research to solve the problem? Is it a priority for you?

Luckey: Not really, because it’s almost an insurmountable problem at this point in time. It’s one thing to make you feel like you’re moving through space, purely with your visual system. It is another to try and build something that can mechanically simulate that entire chain of movements in real response. I don’t think anyone’s done that good of a job even the ones people doing, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, on gigantic pieces of machinery to do it.

RPS: Where do you draw the line on what you see as achievable from a practical standpoint? Do you look at tech and say, “Well, if we can’t have that in the hands of consumers in, like, three years, then it’s not worth our time”?

Luckey: We’re trying to make things that are feasible to deliver to consumers. And until we see evidence that something is important and feasible, we don’t waste too much effort on it. That’s why we’re working so much on equipment, and not so much on, you know, stand and spin around in circles locomotion device.

I mean, there’s others, there’s other basic problems with that, like, ignoring all the psycho nonsense. Or our headset has a cable. How do you deal with the fact that you’re going to turn around and grab a cable. Or, our camera can turn, can take you anywhere you can look as long as you’re sitting, but it loses tracking when you turn directly away. How do you solve that problem? We’re trying to optimize our technology for the way that our hardware works. Our hardware does not yet work with everything.

RPS: So I probably won’t be playing my dream Oculus Rift ice-skating game any time soon?

Luckey: Not anytime soon, no.

RPS: Maaaaaaaaan.

Luckey: And I also think that the best way to do this… the real dream is to tap into the brain, or to tap into the nervous system, and simulate these things. As long as we’re limited to basically strapping things onto the very ends of our senses, you know, oh, strap something in front of my eye, or the end of my hand, over my ear… as long as you’re doing that, you’re going to be limited in what you can do with it.

RPS: Thank you for your time. Be safe, and don’t fall in a hole or get bought by Facebook or anything like that!

Palmer Luckey seemed as animated and obsessive about both games and VR tech as ever. As we talked, his eyes lit up and darted about like fireflies. If nothing else, there was no doubting his enthusiasm, even after an exhausting week of panels and interviews. Taken in conjunction with a more recent Reddit AMA about the Facebook purchase, I’m at least optimistic about the passion of the main brains behind Oculus Rift.

Facebook itself is the big question mark, and all the good intentions in the world won’t be able to stop its behemoth stomps if it really decides to start throwing its weight around. Mark Zuckerberg claims he’s going to more or less let Oculus run independently for a while, but a) will that really end up being the case, b) for how long, and c) how radically will everything change once Facebook decides to start using Oculus tech to lay down track toward the “most social platform ever”? The final point, I feel, is especially pertinent given that Facebook has already expressed an intent to focus on mobile, and even in this interview Luckey seems pretty on board with the idea.

But then, Oculus was bound to get bought, as it never really had a clear release or distribution strategy before. The whole operation reeked of start-up upstarttery, which comes with pros (independence, a stylish jacket lapel pin that reads “indie cred”) and cons (uncertainty in fields outside your own expertise, hardware pricing woes, subpar tech and parts, etc).

Oculus clearly prizes independent creativity and openness as concepts, but I severely doubt that Luckey and co got into the hardware business with “INDIE FO LYFE” intentions. While they *might* have been able to hack it in the long run, it would’ve been an utter chore, and better (or at least equal) companies have failed to accomplish similar feats.

On top of all that, Facebook offers a mainstream push that simply can’t be matched. Don’t get me wrong: I really liked it when Oculus Rift was ‘Our Thing’, but VR’s destiny lies in either ubiquity or painful obscurity. If we really want to see it reach its full potential as just, like, a thing, the former is the only way to go. There will be bumps in the road, and maybe Facebook will torpedo the whole thing while some still-unknown crusader of justice (and rad videogames) saves the day, but one thing is certain: VR couldn’t stay a niche mom ‘n’ pop thing forever.

That said, we now have Facebook calling the shots in a medium that’s still fresh and malleable as wet putty. The same Facebook that tends to prize its own numbers and advertising partners over pretty much all else, even if – thus far – services like Instagram have largely benefited. Oculus’ unique identity is still very much alive right now, but can it stay afloat in Facebook’s bottomless blue sea, or has Luckey’s luck finally run out?

At this point, we can speculate and knee-jerk all we want, but we can’t *know*. I personally am hoping for the best, but only time will tell. This could be VR’s greatest triumph or most crushing defeat. For now all we can do is strap on our goggles, take a virtual front row seat, and cross our fingers for the best.

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129 Comments »

  1. Morcane says:

    I think the backlash is not so much about being bought out (even though it has some serious implications for Kickstarter campaigns), but more the party Oculus sold itself to: Facebook. Out of all the tech / game companies, they sold out to Facebook, a very dubious entity in tech land with their gaming hitlist being Facebook games with in game purchases to extort even more money out of people.

    Anyways, my own interest dropped from hyped to meh, I’ll see.

    • grimdanfango says:

      Exactly. There is selling your company, and there is selling out. I don’t think there would be anything like this level of negative sentiment if it had happened to be the former. If you sell your startup company to solidify its position, fine… independance is appealing, but not always realistic.
      If you sell to a company which is the pure antithesis of ethics, privacy, and which seeks only to exploit its users to the maximum extent that law will allow (and occasionally beyond)… you can damned well expect a backlash.

      • cpy says:

        I was wondering if i was alone going from overhyped what improvements will final oculus have to damn this facebook i hope it wont fk it up and we end up needing to log into facebook to use it. Being spammed with ads during use of oculus worry me too.

        • WrenBoy says:

          Mounting a camera supplied by a company with a cavalier attitude to privacy and with links to the NSA on your wall doesn’t bother you more than ads?

          Each to his own.

          • Malarious says:

            Even ignoring the fact that it’s an IR camera (which means it can’t actually see you), so what? Most laptops have webcams. Many laptops run Windows. Guess what other company has ties to the NSA? Microsoft. What useful information could the NSA possibly get from a webcam? Seriously, tell me. It’s only going to be on when you’re wearing the Oculus, which obscures half your face anyway, so they wouldn’t even be able to run facial recognition software on it. What on earth could they possibly use that data for?

          • WrenBoy says:

            The fact that Microsoft has ties to the NSA makes you resigned to constant surveillance rather than even more suspicious of installing new surveillance devices in your home? Despite the fact that your laptop and even smartphone camera can be switched on to record you at will your instinct is to assume that your Facebook camera will behave politely? As I said each to his own.

            I have to say I don’t know the specifications of the Facebook camera but infrared cameras in general can certainly see you. Why do you think otherwise?

        • Contrafibularity says:

          I went from mybodyisready to boycott, in one news headline. Now I’m really pinning my hopes on castAR, which easily has the potential to far surpass anything Oculus Rift can offer, in addition to VR.

          • Hypocee says:

            Brother/sister/other! It was understandable for media to be ignorant of the CastAR for a time, but the continued snubbing – ‘Seeing as Oculus is the only thing that even remotely counts as a competitor’ – is starting to get old. Sociability, comfort, power consumption, versatility, safety, potential for actual utility, 120Hz, largely convergent tracking…I ended up holding off on the Rift but backing CastAR, and that’s when I thought it had under half the pixels.

          • WrenBoy says:

            @Hypocee

            I can find a bit of breathless coverage of castAR but can see anyone trying it out or comparing a game played via castAR to the Rift. Do you know of any such reporting?

          • Hypocee says:

            Trying it yes, comparison with the Rift’s VR afraid not, because the VR clipons don’t exist yet for this form factor. TI’s said that they’re not even working on them until they get the early-copy prototypes out, when they’re near consumer spec in the summer. Ellsworth has continuously treated them as a trivial matter; apparently, unlike the dense lens stacks needed to collimate a physical screen, getting these projectors into the eye is just a matter of a few off-the-shelf prisms and a half-surface. It does absolutely mean that we’re currently taking them at their word.

            There’s the eternal tension of possible interest drift between backers and makers. CastAR came pre-diverged. They appear to be most interested in enabling entirely new types of social gaming through surface mode, while I care most about the surface-free AR and VR modes. I chose to trust them and back anyway because Ellsworth’s experience in consumer electronics appears to be working. When I looked at every bit of evidence they had to hand, they have always been exactly where they said they were in the process. For example the Kickstarter videos were shot through the glasses, not mocked-up in renders despite the cost of introducing framerate flicker.

            (Edit: Actually, I should have mentioned that I do think they’re overselling the RFID grid thingie by omission.)

            My intros would be the lengthy explanation and hands-on demo of the big-board/480p generation on Triangulation 124

            and the few articles and videos of the first 720p generation at CES
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhCQwjeFNvE

            I want more people to poke this thing partly for my own benefit!

          • WrenBoy says:

            On one hand, the AR thing they have going looks really cool. I can see myself having a lot of fun with that with my kids. On the other hand though, I really want a Rift type experience also, shut off from the real world 100% virtual. They keep saying it’s comfortable because of the viewing distance so I’m a little worried that a Rift style VR would feel bad on this device.

            If they can offer both I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Looks like it will be cheaper than the Rift also.

    • Malcolm says:

      Out of interest, who do you think would have been a better fit? Microsoft would have tied it to the Xbox in some fashion with minimal PC support if you were lucky (cf Kinect). Sony have their own project and buying Oculus would have killed the nascent competition. Apple? Hardware lock in again. I don’t think Razer or Logitech have the scale to make a significant impact.

      While Facebook are not the obvious suitor they at least have cross-platform interest and piles of cash.

      I think Valve would have been the most credible purchaser, but they seem disinterested in hardware manufacture (and would likely have been given the option given their relatively close working relationship with Oculus).

      Google are about the only other option with a reasonable fit, given their significant “Google X” side projects (robotics, self-driving cars etc). But I doubt the reception would be much better from an advertising/tracking/allegations of lock-in perspective.

      • bills6693 says:

        I don’t know, I think Google woudn’t have been so bad… but different people have different opinions.

        I also think I’d be less worried about google’s intentions. Facebook… I just fear for the future of the rift. Google has expanded into so many areas and had a positive impact, and seems to be much more self-conscious about their public image, meaning I don’t think they’d be as likely to screw things up. Added to the fact that google has been buying and expanding in lots of directions, this wouldn’t be surprising. Meanwhile facebook has been just going for the ‘social’ stuff to expand its userbase, so occulus doesn’t fit its company well and I fear for how they play to change it to make it a better fit.

        • Entitled says:

          Google has a terrible track record of tying everything to universal Google+ accounts, meanwhile, Facebook has handled even Instagram separately.

          If you are worried about a locked system, Google is a lot more likely to do that than Facebook.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          God I love this… So, the concern is that FB would kill OR by shoving in tons of advertising and tying it to their platform. And Google would be vastly different because? Google’s main revenue is the same as FB’s: advertising.

          Also, this idea of “selling out” needs to be shot in the head and buried with all of the other stupid bullshit that people like to trot out. Selling out, literally, involves sacrificing your moral principles for money. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but I have never heard anything from the Oculus camp about how they won’t ever sell to FB, hw they won’t ever sell to a company that relies on advertising as its main revenue, or anything that would even come close to being bought by FB somehow violating their ethical principles.

          Face it, folks. The real reason why you don’t want FB to own OR is because you don’t like FB. All anyone here has brought forth is truck-loads of FUD fueled by negative bias. Most don’t want FB to own OR simply because they hate the FB, probably because of some other equally loaded and idiotic reason.

          The reason why I’m worried about OR right now is because Zuckerberg is a fuckup. He’s a terrible, terrible businessman and he (seemingly) has little to no understanding of proper valuation nor how to execute sustainable economic platforms. While FB is finally turning positive profits nowadays, a lot of that money is going back to paying creditors and investors, many who have been patiently waiting with sub-par to no ROI for years and years on end. For more years than not, FB has been a money-pit, much like Twitter was, is, and forseeably always will be. (anyone who invested in Twitter and expects returns is a dumbfuck of the highest order)

          So, really, if anything, people should be worried about the fact that FB is sitting in a rather precarious spot (and has been for a long time) and is nowhere near as financially solid as they try to project. This means that if revenue problems come down the road, they’re not going to give two shits about Oculus Rift VR asides from being able to sell off the patents, which could generate a very generous cash injection.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            Google also buy to invest. Some of the things they invest in is purely from a monetary hands off approach (if they see a golden egg). Others are as hobbies.

            I don’t know if we have seen that from FB. So there would at least be a better change with Google, although still a slim one. No one disagrees with you, just that it’s a lesser “evil” (that is less likely to explode on us). :P

        • jonahcutter says:

          Today’s Google is not the “Don’t be evil” Google of old. They’ve become extremely skeezy with the forcing of the Google+ crap.

          • Josh W says:

            Yep, a dude from microsoft called Vic turned up.

            In microsoft they have this game, where everyone tries to get everyone to be an application of their department’s framework. Office took over everything, internet explorer for a period, then later the mobile interface did.

            Shortly after Vic turned up? Everything in google is now tied to the google+ platform. They never prepared any antibodies, they didn’t know what hit them.

      • houldendub says:

        Personally, I don’t think selling yet would have been the smart choice, to anyone. Firstly, Facebook have a very bad track record with hardware (look at their attempts to make a Facebook phone, even a Facebook “OS”, utter dismal), now they’ve acquired OR my expectations for the device just dropped significantly. Facebook aren’t a hardware company and they should seriously stick to social media, seeing as they’re actually fairly good at that.

        As you say, none of the other tech giants are really suitable for this either. They should have stuck with the original plan and grown based on sales and popularity of the device, natural business growth; they had plenty of supporters, plenty of pre-orders, selling out the dev-kits left right and center. Now they have money, but the general enthusiasm around the device has simply plummeted.

        • DrManhatten says:

          Problem with that strategy is it will would be dead in 6 months maximum a year as soon as the novelty factor wore off and people see that HMD is actually an absolutely stupid idea to realize VR because it creates more problems than it actually tries to solve. Everyone in the VR research community has come to that conclusion 10 years ago.

          • Chalk says:

            VR headsets of today are nothing like those of 10 years ago. Have you actually tried Oculus DK2, or the Valve prototype?

          • Malarious says:

            The hardware for good HMD wasn’t anywhere close to there 10 years ago. It’s barely there now — my top of the line PC struggles to run games at 1440p maxed out, which is probably what the Oculus’ consumer edition is going to be running at. That said, I own the DK1 and as a proof of concept goes, it’s amazing. It’s nothing like the HMDs of yore. If you haven’t used one, then you wouldn’t know. I honestly don’t know why I bother arguing with the naysayers — in 10 years, everyone will be using VR anyway.

        • jrodman says:

          The big problem is no large business entity is committed to invention and research anymore. They’re all too skittish about “maybe it will waste money” and have farmed their research out to universities (polluting the pure research cultures there in the process). The only company still doing significant research is IBM and it’s not what it used to be there either.

          So this company that’s entirely focused on creating shit and breaking new ground has no natural fit owner among corporate giants, at least in the US.

      • ViktorBerg says:

        I could totally see OR being bought by Logitech. They are a pretty big distributor of PC-centric peripherals, and generally don’t mess up too much. It’s all in the fantasy world now, however, I bet you fiddy Facebook ain’t gonna let go of OR any time in the next millenium.

        • Malcolm says:

          Logitech took a (nearly fatal) bath on Google TV and threw Squeezebox under a bus. While their mice and keyboards are good I’m not sure they’d have the appetite (or funds) for such an investment,

        • Horg says:

          I also think that would have been a realistic acquisition. As much hype as Occulus have enjoyed over the last year or so, this device was not suddenly going to jump off the shelf and replace the monitor. A few million units would have been a good opening year and made the first consumer version commercially viable for an established peripherals company to build on.

      • Lemming says:

        Nvidia? AMD? Intel? No one?

      • Chuckleluck says:

        Maybe they didn’t have the cash to buy out OR, but Nvidia comes to mind. They’ve got the hardware side down, they already have shown interest in diversification, evidenced by the Shield, and are competent at making software (GeForce). Better than Facebook, who have done nothing notable in hardware, and, as far as I know, aren’t competent in desktop software development (nor mobile development, if you ask me, but I digress).

        • BarneyL says:

          If there’s one company I’d like to see end up with OR less than Facebook it’s Nvidia. You can pretty much guarantee the headset would be locked to their GPUs only from there on out.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          They have their own, theoretically better version. It’s just way way way too far ahead in tech, so very expensive currently. It’s based on directional photons/projections and stuff too, so you can focus naturally with your eyes on different distances etc.

      • JohnnyPanzer says:

        Razer and Logitech may not have the impact needed, but then again, OR could very well have given them the impact needed in and of itself. Valve would have been the best choice, had they been interested.

        But out of feasable options, I’d say google would be the best choice. Yes, they are almost as dubious as facebook when it comes to privacy, and they would most likely have tied it to g+, but they have one huge upside compared to facebook:

        INNOVATION!

        Facebook is a company that has never shown even a hint of innovation. All they have ever done is to take allready existing online features and ideas, stripped them of a usable UI and milked it dry. Their flagship is a site so utterly devoid of usability and innovation it causes anurisms. The probability of them doing something even remotely interesting with Rift is lower than zero.

        Add to that their view on gaming. You know those annoying ads where you’re supposed to hit something that’s slowly moving across the ad five times and then another ad will pop up? That’s facebook’s version of the perfect gaming experience and that is, without a doubt, where they will put their focus once it’s time to build a moarket for Rift. Then again, the only reason they’ll even bother to build a gaming market for the Rift to begin with, is to make sure every farmville lover buys one and then they will drop that aspect of it completely and focus all of their attention on how to best allow people to upload 3D images of what they had for lunch.

        The only tech company that could have been worse for Rift is Apple, and that was never going to happen. Apple has never supported anything that would in any way, shape or form lead to sales of non-apple products, and in order to profit from Rift they would have been forced to go from 0.1% of the non-mobile gaming market to a leading position in record time.

        • jrodman says:

          In the guts they have significant programming chops, but they get used for dumb shit a lot of the time. PHP-to-C++ compilers!

      • WrenBoy says:

        In an ideal world for the consumer, surely it would have been Samsung.

        Unlike Facebook they make their money by selling products not customer data. Unlike Facebook they are a hardware company. They are even the ones who will make the most important part of the device. Unlike Facebook they are not a US tech company.

        I can understand not wanting Google but Facebook are surely no better. They are technically worse also. Apart from money they bring nothing useful.

      • Hypocee says:

        Amazon?

    • luukdeman111 says:

      Well, the thing is; Facebook isn’t the first one to approach them and buy them out. According to them they have been approached numerous times by different companies and they always refused because, and I quote(from approx. a month ago):
      “We want to do things our way. There are certainly people who are interested… but we have a vision for our consumer product and we know that we’re going to be able to pull it off. We don’t want to be assimilated into someone who’s going to have us working on their own product or their own vision of VR – we want to be able to deliver our own vision of what VR is.”

      Since I, naively perhaps, am still convinced by the good intentions and the passion of Palmer&co. I’m inclined to believe that Facebook is the first company that approached them with a garantee that they will be left alone to do waht they do best.

      In that way, Facebook is perhaps a better choice then say, Google or Microsoft. Eventhough Facebook has some pretty shitty services and has made some shady decisions in the past, Microsoft is generally pretty shitty as a company, but I fucking love Windows 7. Shitty companies really can make good products.

    • Syphus says:

      On the other hand, you only need to go as far as http://code.facebook.com to see how much Facebook has truly championed open source. Considering there’s enough information there to build your own Facebook, I find the fears that Facebook would somehow lock it down to be pretty unfounded. In addition, they must know that tying it to any kind of Facebook account would mean certain death for the Rift.

      Facebook’s interest appears to be not in controlling the Rift, but in controlling potential software down the road that could use the Rift, such as a Virtual Mall or whathaveyou.

      • JohnnyPanzer says:

        Sort of a moot point regarding the open code, don’t you think. No one has ever, in the history of anything, looked at facebook and wondered how the hell they managed to code it. Sites with identical feature sets have been around for ten years, only with less security loopholes and usable interfaces.

        The software thing is what worries me. By throwing their support around, they have the ability to greatly influence the market even without locking it down, and 100% of that software support is going to go to companies like King, Zynga and Rovio, no doubt about it.

    • Crimsoneer says:

      It’s weird, but I think I’m the only person who thinks Facebook is actually a good fit. A inter-connected network of people is what multiplayer VR is all about – building the metaverse.

      One of the three people to mentionned in the FB/OR press release is Cory, who is ex Linden – eg, Second Life. I think that’s a GREAT fit for Facebook and OR, and I love where that could go.

    • mvar says:

      My problem exactly. I wouldn’t care if they were bought by Sony, MS, Valve or whoever..But from all companies out there, Facebook?

    • DodgyG33za says:

      This article went from a must read yesterday morning to a won’t read today. Just came here to post that and look at the other comments.

      I will never buy a product from Facebook. Nor will I ever design software for a product made by them.

  2. Skyhigh says:

    “…or has Luckey’s luck finally run out?”

    I see what you did there.

    But why Facebook? Why, why, why? (I know, it’s the money :-( ).

    • Terragot says:

      Lucky chose money over legacy.

      In 50 years your grandchildren will be asking you “What was it like before dear leader Zuckerberg invented VR?”

      • frightlever says:

        In 50 years time my grandchildren will be in their 70s, and if they’re asking me anything it’ll be through a Ouija board.

      • xfrog says:

        Most awesome post!!!
        Cheers!

      • Loyal_Viggo says:

        Would ‘Dear Leader Zuckerberg’ make us all have the same haircuts as him, even in a virtual world?

        If so we must stop this evil now, before all is lost!

  3. BTAxis says:

    Honestly, my attitude to the Rift hasn’t changed much. I’m going to wait until it’s out and then decide whether to get one based on its merits. I don’t like the idea of giving money to facebook, but no matter how I spend my money it’s going to end up into someone’s greedy hands anyway.

  4. Luringen says:

    What I fear is the Oculus will now go from essentially being a monitor strapped to your face, to being a platform with a store, operating system, and stuff like that. I just want a monitor strapped to my face. No software beyond a driver. That seems unlikely as it would mean Facebook would be selling monitors that doesn’t promote their social network.

    • Sanjuromack says:

      My thoughts exactly.

      But we might still be luck(e)y: With so many game devs. promising to support the Rift, we might just see the single-monitor-split-down-the-middle-right-in-front-of-your-face model of VR becoming a standard that could be used by other hardware companies, even if we have to give up on Oculus as a brand.

      I’m holding out for the ‘Razer Facehugger!”

    • derbefrier says:

      well if you think about it millions already use facebook willingly so it stands to reason that forcing the software down out throats isn’t necessary to sell units. My prediction is that we will get the OR as it was always planned only it will be shipped with a disk that’s got some facebook apps on it to use only if you choose to install them. This seems the most reasonable approach to me. Facebook still gets “bundled” with the OR without making it mandatory to use the device. I mean everyone wins this way right? the PR people cant tell us no one is forcing you to do anything you don’t want and in the same breath they can advertise it as a social platform for those not interested in gaming with one.

      • SoupDuJour says:

        “I’m holding out for the ‘Razer Facehugger!”

        Surely that should be Alienware? :D

        Facebook just wants to get closer to you: Facebook –> Facebox.

        Giff personally identifiable data nao! Iris scanners incoming in Oculus Rift 2.

        Personally, I think the way to best describe how I feel about this is crestfallen. This could have been great. This could have been for legits. Now, it’s turned out to be just another pump and dump scheme. They successfully pulled off what OnLive tried to do. Congrats, I guess. But I really hoped to be able to make VR stuff. Now, with facebook running the show… not so sure.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Don’t forget to add your cell phone number into your oculus rift profile. It will make your experience “safer”.

  5. Trif4 says:

    “the real dream is to tap into the brain, or to tap into the nervous system, and simulate these things.”

    Sword Art Online, anyone?

    *dashes away*

  6. Henchimus says:

    A lot of these answers make a lot more sense when you factor in Facebook; like:

    “RPS: What happens, though, if Sony goes for a game you really want on Oculus? Maybe even one that was originally created and promoted on Oculus? Do you try to outbid them?

    Luckey: I don’t see that one happning….[WHEN WE ARE RUN BY ZUCKERBERG AND HIS TRILLIONS YOU SAD SONY FUCKS! MUAHAHAHAHAHA]“

  7. Crainey says:

    I can’t say this Facebook deal makes me think more highly of them and I can;t say it hasn’t lowered my opinion on them, but not so much as to go into a rant.

    The point of Facebook’s marketing edge is pretty massive. Oculus Rift is taking so long to release it is likely other companies like Sony will release before them, and probably of similar quality to a large established consumer base (Playstation users).

    Without a large company like Facebook with considerable leverage, I can’t see Oculus Rift doing well against Sony and co, they needed to be the first to the market.

    $2bn though… I don’t blame them.

  8. Gap Gen says:

    If the platform is really open, can Facebook do anything to impact the experience? It’s a peripheral, so unless Facebook forces software on the user that requires a Facebook login or something, hopefully it should be OK. I’m still on the fence about it, but if it comes out and it doesn’t require proprietary drivers that burn the Facebook logo into your retinas, I’ll probably buy one. It has made me think twice about burning some cash on a dev kit to try out, though (although my need for one was always tenuous anyway).

    • particlese says:

      Serious answer: Even if the software is fully open, if the hardware is closed and has some sort of say in how screenshots are taken (e.g. the android-based headsets that are one of the long-term targets), they could theoretically use that hardware to steganographically hide whatever info they want in screenshots, assuming the hardware can get that info without going through the software. For example, a GPS radio could write a rolling log of your position in some nonvolatile memory hidden in the proprietary system-on-a-chip, which could then be read and integrated into the rendered frame. Same goes with images from outward-facing cameras for AR (variable-opacity displays would show everyone you’re playing Nudist Colony Simulator 2291), and maybe whatever they’ll use for eye tracking can do identifying retinal scans — right through your sunglasses! Once that info’s obtained, it could be sent in some convoluted way or whenever you post screens or videos. Steganographic info can be made to resist corruption of the container (e.g. jpg compression). And many more possibilities abound with closed hardware!

      Bonus comment: All closed-source games and other closed software can easily encode stuff into images/audio/etc if they want. As a simple example, Proteus holds its game-saves in a few inconspicuous pixels of its screenshots, but see that link above for a discussion of how you can hide stuff pretty robustly.

      More seriously: That way lies paranoia, and they’d eventually be caught doing at least some of it. People love reverse-engineering hardware. It may be more expensive than doing so with software, but they do it and I hear they sometimes discover interesting things. But yeah, I intend to require my Ocular software to be open or not made by Facebook, and I’ll draw the paranoia line there. Unless there’s a really sweet game without ads and mandatory Facebooking.

  9. Emeraude says:

    This is a possible situation (the buyout) we’ve been discussing a lot with friends these past months, and the reason many of us have taken the stand not to crowd-fund any project that wouldn’t go open source.
    That way, if the company the public took the risk of financing because investors were unwilling to take that risk themselves gets bought, the public still has the data to make use as it sees fit.

    Very problematic situation from an ethical and economical standpoint anyway.

  10. Paul says:

    That was a great interview. I am still Very optimistic. I am willing to give Palmer benefit of the doubt. He deserves it. And Instagram is ok.

    • P7uen says:

      I don’t agree, I can imagine Paxman pushing the Sony and exclusivity points for so many questions like this for no particular reason. Didn’t seem that interesting or necessary a point to focus on so much and you can easily feel Luckey’s annoyance with it after his first few answers.

      But Luckey doesn’t come across as a particularly cuddly lovable guy at all, although he clearly knows his onions.

  11. Guvornator says:

    Apparently Zuckerberg was so eager to get Oculus Rift he stayed awake until the wee small hours (wait for it) . That’s right (OMG, you are gonna laugh so hard) he’s up all night to get Luckey!!!!!! What? WHAT?!!! C’mon! Philistines…

    EDITID FOUR SPELIN

  12. realityflaw says:

    I think the great hope was that the Oculus would be instrumental in creating an open standard that most or many developers would begin to integrate into their games, which would open the door for an array of new display devices that enable VR experiences in the future.
    To my mind that dream began to curdle when they started talking in terms of exclusives and publishing, and now it seems that they’ll be more interested in developing some sort of closed VR platform rather than a simple display device.

    • Entitled says:

      Why would you think that? Zuckerberg has always been a very big supporter of open source projects.

  13. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    Yeah, uh, apparently Occulus Rift is going to integrate the Facebook logo and UI.

    Unsubstantiated rumor, but doesn’t do anything ease my worries…

    • jonahcutter says:

      Rumor or no, as soon as I heard this news this is exactly what I figured FB will eventually end up doing.

      I expect the basic user interface to exhort you to sign up for or in to Facebook whilst bombarding you with targeted ads. And the FB logo will likely be everywhere from the hud to the housing. Hell, I would not be at all surprised if it’s watermarked in a corner of the screen every single moment you are using the thing.

  14. Greggh says:

    Not everyone has a high enough end PC to run VR but in a couple of years, like I said, all PCs are going to be a lot better.

    If that’s the entire premise of his VR potential market in the future (i.e. non-enthusiasts and mid-to-high end PCs) I got bad news for him…

    • Crimsoneer says:

      Occulus always said a big part of the consumer version of the Rift would be working on the software side of the machine – why wouldn’t Facebook stick their logo on it now it’s their product?

  15. Zenicetus says:

    Well, this went from a product I was planning on buying when it was released, to a product I won’t be buying if I have to sign up with Facebook to use it. And what are the chances of that not being the case?

    Sony isn’t my favorite company either, but there’s a better chance I’ll just be buying hardware, because that’s all I want with this. I want hardware, not a “social networking service.” I want to be alone in my cave with my VR and my games.

    • Entitled says:

      “what are the chances of that not being the case?”

      Pretty high, actually. Facebook doesn’t need to inconvinience it’s side users in any way just to gain a few more Facebook members, because they already dominate that market anyways.

      It is Google that needs to add + to everything, because they are second place. Facebook didn’t even connect INSTAGRAM to a facebook login, and that’s a lot more facebook-y concept than a VR headset. A marginal increase in Facebook users isn’t worth it to them.

      • Zenicetus says:

        I thought the reason they bought WhatsApp was to expand the social networking user base?

        Anyway, because Rift isn’t already tied in that way, I just can’t imagine them selling it as a purely hardware product. Facebook isn’t a hardware company. They’re not going to just compete with Sony or Razer or whoever else selling computer peripherals. There will be some “value added” service attached, inevitably with embedded advertising and personal data scraping (even if it doesn’t start off that way), or I’ll eat my hat.

  16. Oozo says:

    Is the guy in the pic the love child of Agent Cooper and the Karate Kid?

  17. Wisq says:

    Honestly, the only reason I’m not more concerned by this news is that Oculus already made its single biggest contribution to gaming: It reignited interest in VR, and this time around we actually have the hardware to make it possible (and affordable).

    Now we’ve got both Valve and Sony throwing into the ring, and all reports so far indicate that Valve’s prototypes are way beyond the Rift already. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn later that Oculus’ “deal with the devil” was really just an act of desperation since they realised they were already being left behind in their own field by the bigger players.

    One thing I think everyone should keep in mind, though: Even if the “Facebook Rift” becomes something horrible that you’d never touch in a million years, it can still help you, and the VR field at large. By increasing demand and production capacity for the hardware components involved, those components become easier for everyone else to source as well.

    So long as Facebook releases a technically competent and popular VR headset, everyone else can now make their own VR headsets more cheaply. And this is why technological “revolutions” are so great — no matter who’s driving them, everyone benefits.

    … well, unless they suck, and become the dominant platform, and lock everyone into them (e.g. Windows). Er. Actually, now I’m concerned again.

    • Kitsunin says:

      To be fair, Windows only managed to lock people in because at the time, it was so far ahead of the competition. Nowadays we use it over Linux because it’s the status quo, which is tough to change, but even six years ago it could be pain in the ass to get Ubuntu running right, even if everything went as it was supposed to. Hopefully the OR will only manage to lock people in by being a great thing in itself.

      That being said, I hate hate hate the idea of OR having exclusivity of any games on the PC platform. The entire reason I like the PC is because there isn’t hardware exclusivity.

      • Wisq says:

        so far ahead of the competition

        In terms of user-friendliness, a fancy GUI, getting vendors on board, etc. … yeah, absolutely. It was very shiny.

        In terms of architecture, command-line usefulness, APIs … Unix had them beat decades earlier. And that didn’t seem important to the people making the buying decisions at the time, but these are important to developers, and lacking in these areas — and refusing to adopt the better solutions, like Apple did when it went BSD for OSX — has really taken its toll in the long run.

        • LionsPhil says:

          The NT architecture is substantially more clean and modern than UNIX. Microsoft haven’t “refused to adopt better solutions”, they’ve refused to make you have to care that they’ve done so under the hood, because unlike said competition they’ve gone to insane extremes to keep stuff working from the bad old days.

          • Wisq says:

            Speaking as a programmer: No. The POSIX API does pretty much everything better than the Windows one.

            The Windows API may be newer (and thus technically more “modern”), but newer is not better (contrary to what Microsoft wants people to believe each time they abruptly change their API yet again). There’s a ton of things I can do on a Unix-based OS that I can’t even come close to doing on Windows.

            The only language I’ve used that doesn’t come with a bunch of “you can do this on every platform except Windows” warnings on a bunch of useful system calls is Java (ugh), and that’s because Java just doesn’t implement features if you can’t do them on all the OSes … meaning that Windows, as the lowest common denominator, drags it down even further.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I’m not going to defend the Win32 API because I’m not hopped up on goofballs, but that that still exists is because of the backwards compatability point noted above. Which makes the “change API all over again” point kind of hilarious. Tried running UT99 on modern Linux? Be prepared to try to glue its old audio stack expectations to PulseAudio.

            However, open-source cross-platform libraries are a terrible metric, as they almost universally write to Unixes, then cobble together some kind of half-arsed Windows porting effort. Windows is not a POSIX system (although its architecture allows it to have a POSIX personality), and trying to write in terms of POSIX concepts is folly. It’s like taking a bunch of books translated between various Asian languages, then complaining that when it’s hard to translate them English and keep all their nuance and subtlety that that must be a fault of English.

            And, finally, none of this is architecture. Architecture is having a modern hybrid kernel rather than Linux’s monolithic lump. Architecture is what gives you WDDM and display compositing while Linux still scrabbles with trying to get Wayland off the ground. Being a better system underneath is why Windows by default has on-line block-level slack-space snapshotting unified for full-system versioning and backups; has far, far better precaching; has on-line filesystem checking and recovery; has filesystem transactions (and don’t tell me POSIX’s atomic-move is a transaction, or I will make you do one-block updates to terabyte files for all eternity)…

            The 9X era was crap. UNIX fans could laugh at it, and rightly so. Windows is not in the 9X era any more. UNIX fans should be pulling their fingers out and catching up.

        • Shooop says:

          The only time I used a UNIX OS was in a computer networking class and it was absolutely shit.

          The UI looked and performed worse than the one that was on my family’s Apple II. Windows won because Microsoft knew an OS was almost worthless to the general public if they couldn’t figure out how to use it in a few minutes.

          Linux is at least on the right track.

          • Wisq says:

            The graphical UI was shit, yes. Which is why I said as much in my post. (Well okay, indirectly, by saying that Windows was indeed way ahead in that department.)

            The command line UI has always been better than Windows. And that’s where a great many programmers (and most server operators) spend the large majority of their time.

            Also, by “Unix”, I wasn’t referring specifically to UNIX™, but rather to the general family of Unix-like operating systems (i.e. “everything except Windows”, these days), of which Linux is a member.

          • LionsPhil says:

            PowerShell resolves a lot of the massive suck of Unix shell-scripting, which is a field made entirely of rakes waiting to be trodden on and hit you in the face. Again, comparing to ye olde COMMAND.COM is commentary on what Windows used to be, not what Windows is.

          • Shooop says:

            That’s part of the problem – no one but people who can memorize syntax can use the command line which is where Unix actually works. Windows gave people actions that made more sense to them – clicking on items. So Windows took off while Unix fell into obscurity for everyone but code junkies.

            I consider Linux a somewhat separate entity because its incarnations are significantly different than anything I’ve seen with just “Unix” written on it.

  18. Dawngreeter says:

    The way I’m parsing all of this is: “Zynga bought Firaxis, Civ VI and XCOM 2 announced”.

  19. ukpanik says:

    ” Mid-tier in relation to… your cup of coffee? My cellphone?”

    What an obnoxious arsehole.

    • Bull0 says:

      He’s 21. Temper your scorn with that, then ponder the people that gave $2million to a kid who wanted to make a VR headset.

    • Continuity says:

      The guy just had his company bought for $2 billion, I think I’d be a bit cocky in that scenario too.

    • Jenks says:

      I thought he was incredibly patient throughout, considering the questions. “So you’re quite well-versed in this stuff,” said the blogger to the man who founded Oculus VR.

  20. kwyjibo says:

    Facebook felt that Oculus was worth less than Snapchat. Oculus agreed.

  21. Thrippy says:

    “We want to continue to invest in games and publish games.” In another context (politics), this would translate to “While we will continue our relationship with gaming, it is not our primary focus.”

    I’ve spoken with people who have used the devkits extensively. They all say the same thing. It is a surprisingly effective, solid, stable experience. It really is excellent hardware. Would they want use it consistently to play their games, say, for regular every day use? No. No way. Just for starters, “mixed” multiplayer is already a mess. Those playing without headsets have unassailable advantage over those stumbling around saddled with binocular stereo vision. It is not a level playing field. Segregation seems the only solution.

    You can read ‘Virtual Reality” by Howard Rheingold from twenty years ago. The problems and promise of those VR headsets (which were heavy, bulky, and uncomfortable but worked well enough) remain the same. Disorienting. Difficulty with input. You simply can’t see anymore outside of the headset once inside the headset. Hence everything the headset removes from your environment must be replicated inside the virtual environment i.e. virtual hands just for starters. Sounds patently obvious but it remains a very basic, devilish critical problem. You don’t consciously miss saccades until you can no longer subconsciously glance at your keyboard or mouse. Thus, overall VR is a slightly stressful experience. Nice to place to visit for the novelty but you wouldn’t want to live there, or game there for very long.

    But I imagine there’s all sorts of things to do, all for the novelty, once it is married to Facebook. I don’t know. Perhaps Oculus, in accepting the buyout, has already acknowledged decades old VR issues remain insurmountable and they know VR will remain a gimmick for years to come.

    • Zenicetus says:

      The flight sims and cockpit-level space games get around some of those VR issues, if you’re used to working with dedicated controllers like flight stick, throttle quadrant and rudder pedals. There are enough buttons and switches under both your hands, and there is built-in familiarity if you use the same controllers for all your flight sim-type games. It’s probably a better match for VR than other types of games.

      If there was a standardized controller setup like that for more general-purpose games, it might help alleviate the “where are my hands? What are they doing?” problem. Although probably not a complete solution.

  22. Koltoroc says:

    That bloody traitor can roll over and die.

    Selling to facebook of all things, neither he or the project has any credibility left!

    • Machinations says:

      yeah that deflating sound is the brand losing credibility among gamers

      facebook in 5 years will be myspace, its already happening; so – yayy? I guess.

  23. Sharongamer978 says:

    Sold for profit. Dissapointment.

  24. w0bbl3r says:

    Who else thinks this article would have been about 1/10 the length if not for the news about facebook?
    Or who thinks it wouldn’t have even been newsworthy at all?

    • TWChristine says:

      I doubt it. He was already transcribing the interview, and RPS’ interviews are usually quite lengthy anyway. About the only thing that probably would’ve been shorter (if at all) would’ve been the last few paragraphs.

  25. Shooop says:

    This image should be mandatory posting everywhere there’s mention of the OR.

    http://imgur.com/gallery/SxrAa7Y

  26. manny says:

    What’s stopping of OR team from cashing in their shares and starting their own new company again? As has been said the OR team has been working with standard tech nothing groundbreaking.

    They sold their company to the most incompetent in regards to developing this tech, eliminating future competition once they get started again.

    • Shooop says:

      Valve is still dabbling in VR tech. And they’ve been very vocal in the past about making sure it’s open-source.

      I don’t see the future of OR turning out good because Facebook has zero infrastructure set up for or experience in games or movies and Zuckerberg seems to think the device is actually a portal gun. He seems oblivious to the fact it’s just a monitor strapped to a person’s head with a little motion-tracking built in.

    • nitehawk says:

      License agreements and cash will stop them form from walking away and trying to compete.

  27. Skabooga says:

    Given the tenor of the interview, the whole Oculus Rift project seems to be suffering from a severe case of tunnel vision and overconfidence. Granted, $2 billion dropping from the heavens would be enough to make me confident about entering my pet snail in a horse race.

    • AdmiralV says:

      With that kind of money, you could put a kid through an entire year of college! I didn’t think the potential value of Occulus would have come up anywhere near that amount, but maybe Facebook does not understand numbers with less than 10 figures.

  28. xfrog says:

    Facebook will definitely leave them do as they please with no interference till they create the best device they can. And then Facebook will do whatever they want with that device.

  29. Contrafibularity says:

    Damn you Facebook, why must you kill everything I love?

    Yes yes I know what you’re thinking, I should just capitulate to FB and accept them as my overlord-slash-commercial-intermediary-to-all-my-personal-interactions-slash-mass-surveillance-facilitator. But no, sorry, that will _never_ happen (cue flash forward shot 50 years into the future where that still isn’t happening). I’m certainly not going to be filling their coffers no matter how awesome OR turns out to be. It’s just.. it was going to be really awesome. Le sigh.

    Well played, Sugarmount, well played.

  30. SuicideKing says:

    Luckey: Sure, but people are not going to stop using laptops and PCs in favor of iPads. It just will not happen. Tablets are a huge growth market. That’s not a saturated market. Not everyone has a tablet yet, but everyone already has a PC. So it makes sense that you have slowing sales in one and growing sales in the other. It doesn’t mean that PCs are on their way out. Sales may be going down, but their use is not. People are still using PCs, hugely, in a huge way.

    I want to use this quote everywhere.

    BTW Nathan, i think you’ve summed up the entire FB situation very well at the end.

  31. Continuity says:

    I’m happy that Oculus has big funds behind it now, but damn, I wish it was Valve rather than Facebook.

  32. DrManhatten says:

    *lol* I didn’t expect that. I knew it was going to fail and obviously so did the makers they knew the only way they could make any money out of this is to sell the company to somebody who is stupid enough to shelf out big ca$h. Wonder what is going to happen to Carmack now he certainly looks like a fool :D

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      I dunno, these guys have a habit of turning things around, even if it takes a while. I think audiences are fickle – yeah I think its all a big crock, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe that people will completely change their tune the moment they try their friend’s Rift running Elite Dangerous.

      We may then observe lots of new inventive ways that buyers remorse will translate into forceful online missives of justification, such as suggestions that their critics are perhaps of a mental age not befitting their physical one, that they might be a foul smelling human of diminutive years and stature with expectations of immediate gratification, or predictions that they may be about to experience an extended bout of grieving with accompanying emissions from one’s tear ducts coupled with an unbecoming ache in the rectal area.

      Like Pavlov’s dogs, gamers will then gradually come to associate saying Facebook Rifts are a “sick capitalist abomination” with shame and powerless rage as they fruitlessly scan their minds for a worthy comeback, beginning to preface comments with “I know I’ll get flamed for saying this”, until eventually its equivalent to saying “PC’s are better than XBox 360′s” or “Graphics are important to me”: Socially abhorrent, added to DeBretts Modern Manners alongside doing an impression of the waiter in an Indian restaurant (which invariably ends up sounding Welsh).

      And Carmack will chuckle, as his virtual knight moves to check.

    • Mark says:

      He looks a fool because he’s one of the main employees in a tiny company that just got bought for $2billion? What planet are you living on?

      It’s nice you take such glee in the imagined “mistake” (that has probably made him even more fabulously rich) of a person you’ve never met – however Carmack is probably hundreds of times richer, more intelligent and successful, and has done more for games and had more influence on the world than you could ever hope for.

      Where do people like you come from?

  33. CookPassBabtridge says:

    The BBC, which helpfully explains what “breaking up a relationship” is (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-26749152), has made sure to reassure us that Zuckerberg is a Nice Young Man. Stand easy folks.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26746694

  34. Josh W says:

    Along the lines of what’s suggest in the article, there is only one way this system can still have our respect; if there is requirements in the agreement they signed in the sale that gives them fundamental independence, both in terms of revenue and features.

    If all we are talking about is facebook money for future occulus profits, this could be fine, but if it’s just a promise that they’ll leave them alone for now, then that will only last until it’s too late to switch, when they are substantially established.

    If it’s just operational independence without funding, then facebook can just drain them of funding if they don’t do what they are told.

    It’s not unheard of for a company to get bought out and emerge unharmed, bungie did it, but it’s extremely risky.

    Like imagine the oculus starts turning into a phone sized head mounted computer with a real time operating system and a series of stream processors, awesome! Except the OS is run by facebook, and can store your most intimate reaction data, and is one automatic update away from feeding you ads constantly. There needs to be firewalls in place to stop that kind of thing getting all the coolness milked out of it.

  35. TechnicalBen says:

    “So I think locomotion devices are interesting, and I think that they’re going to improve rapidly, but I don’t think any of them solved locomotion today, because on a fundamental level, they are not able to solve the biggest problem, which is dealing with your balance system, all the way from your brain to your feet, when you’re accelerating and when you’re decelerating.”

    If you wish to trick the mind into thinking there is movement, and easy way is to tilt your head forward, followed by the animation/image of movement. I think that should work. :)