Preposterift: Oculus Wants To Build One Billion Person MMO

By Nathan Grayson on May 8th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

It will take place in the city of Metroculus and you'll be waging ceaseless battle against the nefarious Doctor Oculus.

If I were a videogame exec, I would spend all my time saying the most outrageous things possible in an attempt to get silly reporters like ROCK PAPER SHOTGUN’S NATHAN GRAYSON to write about me in a tone of mock-incredulity. I would say things like “one billion person MMO” and “space game where everybody is an owl so they’re all owlstronauts haha but seriously one trillion microtransactions.” If I stuck with the former, I would be Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe. I would be very handsome.

Apparently Oculus is working on an MMO that would leverage every technology available – PC, mobile, everything else maybe ever – to create an MMO for one billion people. He explained his company’s plan at the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference (as attended by The Guardian):

“This is going to be an MMO where we want to put 1 billion people in VR. It’s going to take a bigger network than exists in the world today.”

“If you let go, you can have a real conversation with a person. That’s the holy grail we’re trying to get to.”

There’s a hair over one billion smart phone and PC users in the world, but convincing a majority of them to shell out for VR goggles that look less Facebook and more Facebrick? That’s an incredibly tall order even with Facebook’s full 1.23 billion-person infrastructure in the mix. At least, right now. Iribe admitted, however, that this MMO – which would eclipse genre frontrunners like World of Warcraft by an order of magnitude, or even the likes of Farmville and League of Legends – is quite a ways out. Oculus plans to focus on more traditional games first.

Of course, all of this assumes that Oculus’ game development projects are even any good in the first place, and at the moment it’s all question marks on that front. Who, aside from the ever-controversial John Carmack, will Oculus even hire? And what sort of central activity would even make one billion people flock to an MMO? I feel like the appeal of chatting in a shared VR space – no matter how immaculately rendered – would get old pretty quickly, especially if fully fleshed out universes like EVE Online sport that kind of functionality on top of everything else.

I’m all for ambitions, but this isn’t pie in the sky or even in the stars. This is pie in another dimension where pie hasn’t been sighted in thousands of years. Pie is just a myth. There is a crazy cult religion that’s formed around it. They speak in awed whispers of tales from the Pieble.

It’s nice to dream, though. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to making my “which videogame exec are you?” BuzzFeed quiz.

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71 Comments »

  1. Lexx87 says:

    Hah, nice cross-site reference there Mr. Grayson.

    • Jeroen D Stout says:

      “Flopsy is dead, and she never called me…. Mother.
      Soon, you will all be dead. Dead. Dead.
      And because I am so EVIL, you will all die slowly…
      Under—the drill!”

    • tumbleworld says:

      Yeah, it’s not an MMOG he’s working on, but an MMOH — Massively Multi-user Online Hell.

  2. Crimsoneer says:

    I am so excited for this sort of thing. Give me Snow Crash, the metaverse, the matrix. I want it.

    • Wowbagger says:

      I doubt you’d like a snow crash. I would like to be a samurai pizza delivery boy for the mafia though.

      • Iainn says:

        Up until you crash into an empty pool in someone’s back garden in TMAWH.

      • Boothie says:

        so is that a delivery boy delivering samurai pizzas or a samurai delivery boy delivering pizzas?

        • The Random One says:

          A samurai delivery boy delivering mafia pizzas. Keep up will ya?

      • rockman29 says:

        Screw pizza delivery, I want Y.T.’s epic roller skates.

    • Commander Gun says:

      Was thinking something like this, but i think Stephenson’s latest (Reamde) is would probably be more like this.

  3. RedViv says:

    Oh you, followers of Slaanesh. Oh you.

  4. distantlurker says:

    In *MY* new MMO, all new borns the World over will be immediately plugged into sensory deprivation tanks with VR headsets. Within the game, they can choose to play as an isometric immersion in 4-dimensional Euclidean space; a random thought passing through the mind of an uninspired functioning alcoholic, or a micro transaction.

    Our first DLC will be ‘Hope’.

    *drops microphone and walks off stage*

  5. BobbyDylan says:

    And I want a Beer brewing, Supermodel nymphomaniac for a housemaid.

    • Themadcow says:

      Nah, it gets boring after a while. I speak from experience.

  6. Cam says:

    This like like a subconscious cry for help. “All our new overlord, Mark Zuckerberg keeps talking about is the vague concept of connecting people, and it’s driving us to the brink of insanity; please send help!”

    *GOING INSANE? THE GOVERNMENT IS TOTALLY PISSED ABOUT THIS NEW COMPLETELY LEGAL AND ORGANIC MEDICATION; CLICK TO PRE-ORDER YOUR BOTTLE TODAY!!!*

    *YOU’VE BEEN INVITED TO PLAY THE NEW HIT GAME; POPPING-PILLS DELUXE(NOW WITH VR CAPABILITY); COME JOIN AND INVITE YOUR FRIENDS!*

  7. Ace Rimmer says:

    I would say things like “one billion person MMO” and “space game where everybody is an owl so they’re all owlstronauts haha but seriously one trillion microtransactions.

    There’s a bonkers Rift concept for that.

    OLFACTORY COMPONENTS!

    • particlese says:

      *owlfactory

    • particlese says:

      Also: Cool!
      At first, it made me think of the chairs for The Lawnmower Man’s flying game. However, it also reminded me of how someone blew at my face when I was demoing Rift Coaster (and other games) a few months ago. It was oddly immersive, if slightly off-putting once I realized what it was — it was also an olfactory stimulus.

  8. wu wei says:

    Well, it’s pretty obvious what they’ve been spending the Facebook money on…

      • particlese says:

        What is that? I think I stared at it for too long, because I saw some combination of American Psycho Christian Bale and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

        • schlusenbach says:

          It’s Matthew McConaughey in Wolf of Wallstreet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJUTwXSujv0

          • particlese says:

            Hahahahaa! Noooo! Now I’m going to be walking around all day with a catchy tune emanating from my dumb smile.

        • Darth Gangrel says:

          That’d be a welcome change to an old stereotype. Instead of the German/Russian crazy scientist, we’ll get the American Psycho Science Guy.

          • particlese says:

            Calm and collected but completely mad scientist who talks to the fourth wall and teaches it real science? Ehhhxcellent. And as a bonus, make it a female lead so the credits can roll to “She Blinded Me With Science”.

  9. Jp1138 says:

    So, Ready Player One already?

    • Lobotomist says:

      Exactly

      No doubt inspired by Ready Player One , which in turn is loosely inspired by Second Life (among other things)

      So, I see some kind of Second Life structure, highly focused on interaction, social hangouts and player creativity

      • Shooop says:

        And just like Second Life, it’ll be a cesspit of weird porn fantasies won’t it?

        • Shodex says:

          If you give people the ability to become whoever they want and do whatever they like without consequence, they’ll become animals and shag each other in bondage sex dungeons.

          You can quote me on that.

    • apa says:

      I’m reading it right now, it’s like they got the business plan right out of the book :D

    • RagingLion says:

      Yep, that was my first thought.

      Mark it down people – this may be the beginning of something seismic.

      I actually read that book because of hearing that Michael Abrash got all of the Valve VR team to read it after he had. I think it’s quite likely that there’s a real causal effect apart from it naturally pointing this way anyway.

  10. Darth Gangrel says:

    Ambitions are great, but it all sounds rather hollow unless you plan to do something about it in the next year or so. I myself plan to write several amazing fantasy novels and also make my mark on the modding scene, because words on paper isn’t enough to fully utilize my enormous creativity. That might sound great, but I can’t show anyone any results yet, so I haven’t talked to real people about it yet.

  11. TheIronSky says:

    Let me know when that BuzzFeed quiz is ready — I’m quite interested in taking it. I’ll bet I’ll land on Harvey Smith. I don’t really think I’m the Richard Garriott or Ken Levine type.

  12. staberas says:

    So just reading this it reminds me that horrible 2009 movie “Gamer”, which makes me believe zuckerberg wants to become a villian IRL …

    • King_Rocket says:

      That movie was truly awful.

      • Vin_Howard says:

        I had the feeling that it was trying to condemn gaming; but such stupidity would be impossible for me to comprehend, so I decided I was just imagining it

  13. catmorbid says:

    I hate to be the one to say this, but… to have any hopes of getting one billion users, you’d have to do VR porn. Yeah, that’d definitely do it.

  14. Kitsunin says:

    I want The World to be real. That is all 100% of what I want to come out of VR tech. As soon as possible, please.

  15. LionsPhil says:

    Executive makes outlandish blue-sky claim to get free press for a product which doesn’t exist.

    RPS obliges. Makes fun of itself for it, but still does it.

    • Vinraith says:

      RPS and literally every other gaming outlet. It’s amazing, really, because he might as well have said “I want Oculus to be able to make it rain pink unicorns from the sky.”

  16. Jorum says:

    Look all we want is for you to finish and release your goddamn VR goggles.
    That’s it. That is what people want your company to be.

  17. MichaelGC says:

    “If you let go” of what?

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Of all hope. In order to engage in internet discussions in a VR environment with one billion users.

    • Shodex says:

      Of everything. This is your world now.

  18. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    Perhaps Facebook should buy Second Life and slap Oculus on it. Think about the floppy horse penis wolf-unifcorn-dragon possibilities.

  19. PAK-9 says:

    the ever-controversial John Carmack”

    Did you just write that on the basis of the article it linked? Because JC is very rarely embroiled in controversy, it’s totally unfair to label him “ever-controversial”.

  20. particlese says:

    Despite the Facebook thing and the full-of-Internet-people thing, I’m tentatively super excited by this news, whatever that means. Probably something to do with me recently blasting through Sword Art Online and enjoying it so much I started it again and got the first light novel (plus Ready Player One and Snow Crash for perspective).

    If you have any tolerance for anime and have access to this show (e.g. Netflix), I highly recommend checking out at least the first half. (I thought both halves were excellent, but the first is simultaneously nicely resolved and open-ended, and it takes place before a couple “wtf, Japan?” elements creep in.) It’s generally about people stuck in VR MMO (they die in real life if they die in or leave the game), with good helpings of generalized gaming references and exploration (or sometimes just hints of) of the psychological implications of such a situation.

  21. trooperwally says:

    This has already been done:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/outside

    Facebook need to up their game.

    • Horg says:

      Weren’t you listening? Now we can have outside in VR!

      What an age we live in.

  22. Jeroen D Stout says:

    Here is a video demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJlPr2KHSFo

  23. morbiusnl says:

    can you please post more about eve?

  24. singateco says:

    How about One person MMO with a billion dollar budget?

  25. Shooop says:

    If nothing else, it’s amusing to see how excited that poor delusional man is.

  26. JohnnyPanzer says:

    Sounds about right to me. Aiming for player numbers even remotely close to that means they plan to cater to the most casual of casuals, which is exactly why facebook bought the future dust gatherer to begin with.

    Wont it be great to experience the massive VR world of farmville for a few weeks before everyone gets just as bored with the oculus as they did with the kinect?

    • Vinraith says:

      Aiming for numbers even close to that means they plan to cater to people in third world countries that don’t have electricity. It’s meaningless gibberish intended to generate press attention, the entire gaming media just got trolled.

  27. JFS says:

    The pie… is a lie.

  28. HisDivineOrder says:

    It’s easy to see why they want to push this as the future, but when it flops Facebook is going to be looking to unload most of Oculus after it finds it can’t make it work to their advantage.

    Meanwhile, Luckey and the privileged few who got the big payday will have long left by then. The Kickstarters who got them going?

    SOL.

  29. CookPassBabtridge says:

    No one’s Oculus Rift has ever looked like that. Wasn’t that the kickstarter “what we think it might look like” image? Its sexier than the Postcard On The Face DK1 or even the DK2, but no-ones Rift has ever looked like that. Why is it always the header image when This could be?

  30. 7vincent7black7 says:

    So basically, Oculus intends to make a move towards 1 Billion people having their own digital and physiological Apocalypse one day that will cause at least 1/6 of the Planets population to risk being stuck in a Video-Game matrix where their consciousnesses become trapped, unable to escape from the illusory world they experience.

    But first, they must extend the Internet Bandwidth capabilities and make a couple bucks on “normal” games. :3

  31. Shodex says:

    Strangely enough, I think there is a demand for this. Even if people don’t actually know it yet. If we look at a lot of science fiction — specifically cyberpunk works like Ghost in the Shell, Neuromancer, Serial Experiments Lain to a degree — they all feature that idea of a VR cyberspace where the user puts on a persona and dives into the world.

    And even outside of fiction, Second Life was often toted as your ‘second life.’ A virtual world where you’d meet up with people during downtime, go do all sorts of things, etc. That idea of the internet community personified in a virtual environment. I mean, it all went to shit and Second Life is a pretty disgusting place. But the idea is still very similar. Before Second Life there was VirtualSpace Traveller and Worlds.com, both mid 90s stuff that is absolutely horrifying to look at. Traveller I actually played, and it was just as creepy back then.

    I think this idea of a virtual world we’re all a part of is a pretty natural technological development, since similar to VR itself we’ve been making stories about this idea and vain attempts before it’s time. So why not.