John Carmack Speaks Out In Support Of Oculus/Facebook

Working for id funded my space ship projects, but Facebook will give me enough to establish my own planet.

Depending on which vomit-and-time-encrusted pub on the edge of the Internet you walk into, Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of Oculus Rift is either the worst or most worthy of cautious optimism thing to ever happen. Many developers are on board with the idea. Notch, however, is not. Oculus’ most recognizable faces – all of which now presumably sport company-mandated books – are quite pleased, but what of the notoriously opinionated (if not exactly outspoken) John Carmack? The former id Software tech guru has always marched to the beat of his own drum, so a corporate overlord like Facebook might not seem like his cup of perfectly optimized (for both flavor and caffeination) tea. But if there’s one thing Carmack is always good for, it’s surprises.

Carmack, now Oculus’ CTO, offered a characteristically frank response in, er, the comments of a post made by Anamanaguchi player and songwriter Peter Berkman:

“There is a case to be made for being like Valve, and trying to build a new VR ecosystem like Steam from the ground up. This is probably what most of the passionate fans wanted to see. The difference is that, for years, the industry thought Valve was nuts, and they had the field to themselves. Valve deserves all their success for having the vision and perseverance to see it through to the current state.”

“VR won’t be like that. The experience is too obviously powerful, and it makes converts on contact. The fairly rapid involvement of the Titans is inevitable, and the real questions were how deeply to partner, and with who. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting Facebook (or this soon). I have zero personal background with them, and I could think of other companies that would have more obvious synergies. However, I do have reasons to believe that they get the Big Picture as I see it, and will be a powerful force towards making it happen. You don’t make a commitment like they just did on a whim.”

Carmack even went so far as to weigh in on the issue of Facebook’s rather notorious data-mining policies, falling very much in favor of it by way of some exceedingly Carmack-ian logic. “I’m not a ‘privacy is gone, get over it’ sort of person, and I fully support people that want remain unobserved, but that means disengaging from many opportunities. The idea that companies are supposed to interact with you and not pay attention has never seemed sane to me.”

“Everyone tut tuts about companies ending up poorly by blindly following data, but cold analysis of the data is incredibly important, and I tend to think the world will be improved with more and better data analysis.”

Did John Carmack, most analytical man on the planet, just lock up the award for Carmackest John of 2014 already? I think he may have.

Of course, other commenters dug into issues like data ownership, Facebook’s sometimes dodgy monetization of said data, potential side effects of all that information being stored in one place, and unintentional consequences of a person’s data being made more public than they’d like, but Carmack has yet to drop his two cents on those subjects.

All of that said, Carmack seems to be cautiously behind Facebook at this point, so it’s doubtful that he’s going anywhere even though he was apparently not involved much with the decision to sell. And if that changes in the future? Well, he’s John Carmack. Somehow I doubt he’ll have much trouble finding a new job.


  1. gwathdring says:

    The last thing we need is the technocrats in charge of our data having more crap to monetize.

    We have enough monopolies and duopolies and disgustingly horizontally integrated and horrifyingly horizontally-and-vertically integrated entities in consumer tech to spin Vanderbuilt right round and Rosevelt in his grave.

    Down with this sort of thing. Economic bio-diversity is important. No matter how many times this is illustrated by catastrophe the extent to which people who buy things (large or small) give a shit seems directly proportionate to the additive identity.

    That Facebook is a company with a repugnant moral record and absolutely no connection to the most immediately relevant fields with respect to the Occulus rift only cements the lunacy of this whole farce.

    While we’re at it, let’s take back Maker, Star Wars and Marvel from Disney.

    It’s not like these people listen to one Internet poster named after an imaginary imaginary sword in a non-existent language, so I might as well dream big. I’d also like a puppy. Facebook might as well owe me a puppy–they probably haven’t earned a healthy margin of a puppy’s-worth off of data about me by this point, but considering I’m not even on Facebook directly and I never gave consent I’m going to push the issue. I want a god-damn puppy.

    This whole thing is really rather depressing. Ultimately, it’s probably good for the Rift just like the Disney buy out was probably good for the Muppets and Marvel. It’s the consumer side and the yet-bigger picture that’s worrisome.

    • tobecooper says:

      That’s puppy gonna have a chip under its skin, and a corporate logo on its back.
      And you’re gonna like it!

      • LionsPhil says:

        It’ll be a Sony Aibo that loyally follows you everywhere that you go.

        With integrated GPS, 3G, webcam, and NFC reader so it can tell if you’ve got your credit card on you.

      • gwathdring says:

        This reminds me of the Chuckee-cheese-alike “Flippy’s” from a cyberpunk hack of Apocalypse World I ran. The company had a designer neuro-chemical in their products that caused those who ate it to (depending on the dosage how how much of a chemical dependence they were developing over time) give the signature Flippy’s double-thumbs-up and happy grin.

        You didn’t have to enjoy it. But you were damn well going to advertise it as though you did whether you liked it or not.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      “Facebook is a company with a repugnant moral record”

      You know, and this is just something that occurred to me right this moment, I don’t think this statement is true. I would have agreed with it yesterday, but today I think I realized that Facebook isn’t evil. Zynga is evil, for example. Facebook is just a high functioning sociopath. I don’t think there’s any malice involved and I also don’t think morality factors into anything they do. They just do what they do and seem to honestly have no capability to feel or recognize empathy.

      So, to twist this Sudden Clarity Clarence moment back to the topic at hand – if they logically found Carmack’s and Luckey’s and whoever’s reasoning behind VR to be sound and profitable, I actually believe they might not taint the Oculus too much. Of course, that’s kind of like giving someone all the nuclear codes and hoping he understands its against everyone’s interests, includign his own, to start a nuclear war.

      • frightlever says:

        I tend to agree with you. Not that that makes me want to engage with Facebook. If the consumer version of OR works well and gets broad support, I’ll buy one – provided I don’t actually need to create a Facebook account to use it. Which would be nuts.

        • rikvanoostende says:

          That’s just as unlikely as that you need a Rift to access Facebook.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Don’t be naive! Every Rift will now have individually identifiable software and why would a company like facebook do that any other way then requiring you to log on to your facebook account before you can use the rift.

            Unless you believe that some of the sharpest business minds in America have spent 2 billion + on a product that will struggle to make 2 million in hardware sales alone and don’t have plans to make up the shortfall. The rest of that investment is coming from somewhere – advertising at you, powered by your facebook account.

          • Baines says:

            I wouldn’t have put it entirely past Google to do something like that. They dropped the “Don’t” part from “Don’t be evil” quite some time ago, and already have the integration level and clout to force such a thing.

            But Facebook couldn’t pull it off. There is already competition in the VR market, and Facebook doesn’t have the clout to force such a requirement, not unless they go full patent troll to try to shut down any competing hardware. (Microsoft knows that they couldn’t pull it off either, though if Oculus Rift had been theirs, they might have tried anyway.)

          • All is Well says:

            Are you being sarcastic? If not, is there any basis for that assumption? I’ve seen variations on it a couple of times now so I thought I’d check, because it really seems implausible on its own, given the awkwardness of ad implementation on the Rift and Facebook’s past behavior regarding acquisitions – not to mention how little sense it makes to forcibly integrate a predominantly web-based social service into a display unit.

            My best guess would be that Facebook is interested in supporting VR hardware now because it sees a potential for mainstream adoption, which means there could be a future market for a VR version of facebook, or some other VR service they can profit from.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Alliswell – just because you lack the imagination to work out how to monitise people spending time on the rift does not mean people who attend conferences like these don’t. Unless you can come up with a better theory on how facebook are going to make this investment work for their shareholders?

          • Corb says:

            Going to have to agree with these other folks. The fact that facebook bought HARDWARE, is an indication of change in direction or expansion for the company. They’ll probably gimick VR into facebook somehow but, the uses of a good VR would be useful to more than just the consumer market and they’d probably get very nice contracts to improve upon/find more uses for VR from outside sources. Heck, they’ll probably even get military/government, medical, and engineering contracts for VR not to mention robotics, scientific research and entrepreneurs who find good uses for it.
            It’s a new tech, a new field, and if done well and deployed well it stands to change things as much as the smart phone has.
            The biggest danger now is PR and getting people’s good will for the project due to the facebook name being attached to this now which could kill the Occuslus (which has been the driving force so far in the field so far)

          • darkChozo says:

            It’s pretty important not to conflate OculusVR, the company, and the Oculus Rift, the product. Facebook bought the former, almost certainly because of the R&D they’ve been doing and the tech they have. They’re pretty unlikely to make significant changes to the latter for any number of reasons — it would probably destroy the company (“hey, I know you joined to make a video game peripheral, but we’re making a social media platform now!”), it would be throwing away the work they’ve already done on the thing, and arguably there’s not a real market for it outside of gaming right now.

            Facebook will likely use the tech for, well, more Facebook-y things in the future, but I doubt it’ll be anytime in the short, or maybe even medium term. Chances are the Rift is safe for now, plus or minus some surface-level Facebook stuff (which could, admittedly, suck for some people).

          • All is Well says:

            I never argued FB won’t try and make money out of this – I was asking if there were any concrete reasons to assume they are going to do it by making you log into FB to use the OR, so they can show personalized ads when using it, because you presented this as being uncontested fact and it seemed implausible to me.

            I also did state my own guess as to how they might try to turn a profit, but here it goes again: FB sees a potential for VR technology to take off. They make money from “social” software. They see a market space for a VR social network, social augmented reality, or some other social application of VR and related tech. They buy Oculus to guarantee their place in an emerging market, not to shoehorn ads onto a product intended for a very narrow market. But hey, this is all just semi-educated guessing.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @All is well, lets follow the logic.

            We both agree facebook will try to monetise using your headset in some way. To do this, they need to be able to identify data about you and your use of the rift. This means they will need to be able to log data about you in a database which can personally identify you. They have one. Its called facebook. Why would they create a different, new, unrelated one?

          • All is Well says:


            Thank you for explaining your reasoning. The core of our disagreement seems to be that you think Facebook is going to try and get a return on their investment immediately, from the Rift, while I think it’s more of a long-term investment, and that this is just a stepping stone.
            I do agree with the premise, that any monetization will involve data gathering and ads, which will most likely tie in with their existing database. I do not believe, however, that data gathering and ads will be implemented into the Rift itself, but that it will exist in software applications created *for* the OR, or subsequent hardware more suited for it. But, as I said, in the absence of any statements or other evidence, this is really just speculation, and I think I’ve explained my thoughts as well as I can – thanks for sharing yours as well!

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Fair enough! Guess we’ll just have to wait and see ;)

          • WrenBoy says:

            @All is Well

            I agree with you regarding the first device they release. They would be spectacularly foolish to force you to use Facebook to access key feature of the device. I still think its awful that a company like Facebook owns the Rift though.

            They will obviously want to earn money in ways other than hardware as soon as they are in a position to do so. Its not like the first Rift is going to be the only device anyone will ever buy and Facebooks backing means than smaller competitors or potential competitors will probably get crushed as Facebook manoeuvres itsself into a position to shaft us.

            That is also what I find annoying about Carmacks statement. He seems to understand that people are essentially obliged to own a Facebook account now to effectively stay in contact with their friends but also way underestimates the extent to which Facebook are able to exploit this. Its far more than just paying attention and improving the world via data analysis.

          • Faxmachinen says:

            Haha yeah. What’s next, making you have a Windows Live or Google account to use your OS? Don’t be ridiculous, that would never happen.

        • MkMax says:

          yeah its not like facebook can track you even if you dont have an account using the like button that is in every internet page ever …. oh yeah they are already doing that…

          still its highly unlikely they would introduce a little something in the OR’s software to do the same, right ? …….. right ? right…………

      • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

        You do realize that sociopathy is virtually the same as psycopathy? In Facebook’s case, I fail to see how malice can not be present. Their whole ecology is based on hits and number of users. The idea of Facebook is “more is better”. Closing your eyes on malicious intent does not remove you from that intent or make you less guilty morally.
        Your argument implies that we should treat the company as the responsible party. Facebook as a company is not an entity. It is not a living thing. There are thousands of people employed by them. They are alive and subject to ethical an moral standards. The management of Facebook has shown on several occasions that they do no follow accepted moral standards. That in itself is pretty darn malicious if you ask me.

        • rikvanoostende says:

          Morally responsible for a victimless crime, I suppose. I get the feeling we’re blaming the streets for traffic accidents. We want to have streets, even if we have less traffic accidents without them.

          • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

            No, you blame the people who make the streets and they collapse because they did a piss poor job of it. That’s comparable to this. Roads, companies, vehicles and other items are not entities that can be blamed. The people who run companies and/or make items can and should be blamed when they act to subvert laws or otherwise act in a morally dubious manner.

        • Dawngreeter says:

          I agree with you, don’t get me wrong. When I was talking about Facebook in singular, I merely wanted to abstract the corporate entity and in doing so I didn’t mean to take away personal responsibility in any way shape or form. It’s just an attempt to describe the behavior of a company.

          Now, as far as my pop cultural knowledge goes, I believe sociopathy is the same as psychopathy. The terminology was updated at some point to more closely reflect what psychology knows about the condition. And by stating that Facebook was behaving as a “high functioning sociopath” I wanted to say that I truly believe there is no malice present in the actions of Facebook. They do not mean ill. They mean profit and personal progress. And they seem incapable of understanding moral implications. Their behavior is not immoral but simply amoral – without morality. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I were to find out that Zuckerberg keeps getting confused by people protesting the privacy issues. People put stuff online, his company correlates data, this produces some interesting results. The fact that this process isn’t very well concealed at all, and furthermore gets exhibited in very strange ways (the irrational focus on user numbers) is mostly evidence to company’s lack of ability to understand there’s something wrong with it. If there was malice involved, it would’ve been concealed better. Not that this makes me feel any better – a person not knowing right from wrong having so much power and data. I just thought it was an interesting distinction.

          Contrast this with Zynga, as I already mentioned, who seem fully capable of understanding moral implications of their actions. What’s more, they seemed to derive some highly disturbing satisfaction from it.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I think broadly, that you’re correct – ignoring the stuff about sociopathy and psychopathy – facebook, unlike someone like zynga or king is not out there to deliberately do morally dubious stuff. They are open and honest about the service they provide and the price you pay for it.

            For those of us for whom the price is too rich – and lets not forget, the more you use the internet, the more your data can impact on your life – our excitement is dashed. We can no longer “afford” or are no longer willing to pay what is necessary for a Rift – at least what we believe the price will be, so honestly, the backlash is kind of mild, well considered and reasonable. Our toy got taken away. We are sad.

            A Rift employee, John Carmack telling us we are wrong to believe that is not any different to a dodgy car salesman telling us that he’s sure we can make the monthly payments.

          • GardenOfSun says:

            I think I thoroughly agree with you sir. These megacompanies, being a cancerous offshoot of the capitalistic logic, are merely and mechanically following the only narrow logic of economic predation that they were born thanks to. Of course as Bassen says that doesn’t mean there’s no ethical (I’d prefer to avoid the word *moral* here) responsibility here, but that pertains to the single individuals who have willingly chosen to partake in such a machine. The machine itself, while arguably perverse, is nothing but that: a machine.

          • His Divine Shadow says:

            Maximizing personal gains with no regard for morals is pretty much a textbook definition of being evil. Evil doesn’t necessarily imply deliberately harming others – it’s just being selfish. Maybe the former is chaotic evil (or plain sick), and the latter is lawful evil.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I don’t think AD&D alignment rules are a delicate enough tool to adequately describe the concept of evil

      • aleander says:

        but today I think I realized that Facebook isn’t evil.

        Oh, sure, it isn’t as bad as, say, Monsanto, TEPCO or Union Carbide. But, this is the case when I call up my favorite joke ever, “see how good uncle Stalin is? He could have shot me”.

      • gwathdring says:

        Who said anything about evil? I don’t believe in evil. Evil is a lazy concept, in my view. Moral repugnancy is all shades-of-grey stuff. It’s just shades-of-grey stuff that I find repugnant.

        I hold companies responsible for their behaviors, not their DnD alignments.

    • archiebunker says:

      TW: Anti-sheeple rant

      Facebook and summer movie blockbusters have something in common… everyone rags on them and then sees them anyway.

      As much as people bitch and moan about monopolies and oligopolies, the truth of the matter is that we made them and we continue to support them! These entities don’t exist in some magical money vacuum – they exist solely because of the massive customer bases they have amassed and continue to maintain.

      Vote with your dollar (it’s the only vote that actually counts for something). Don’t like Facebook? Toss in support for one of many decentralized social networking platforms that are in development right now.

      There are choices. Stop whining and start exercising your right to choose.


      • Dawngreeter says:

        Well, I’d say that your right to choose shouldn’t strictly limit your right to whine as well. I don’t use Facebook. I whine about it too. Boom.

      • Goodtwist says:

        But I cant wote with Dolars. I only have Eurocents!

      • GardenOfSun says:

        You’re right, in a way. For example I use fb and yet I just wrote about how fb in its essence tends to be a perverse entity.
        However I also think the issue is a bit more complicate than that. If, for example, I can use fb to gain internet traffic about a blog in which I expouse analysis of how the capitalistic world feeds on the historical human failure in exchanging pleasure for desire and control for love, one could argue that the little money they make from me is surpassed by far by the counter-fb utility I get from them. Also, the moment you recognize the problem isn’t fb per se, but the logic it ascribes to, it becomes much less meaningful to boicott it (I mean you could do that for every single capitalistic corporation on the planet, but that’s really theorical, since you’d have to *completely* redesign your whole life).

      • HadToLogin says:

        You’re wrong. There’s what, maybe 1 million people ragging about stuff. That’s not even 1% of US population, never mind world. So all that rage is nothing compared to people who don’t rage, but are too busy having fun to write comments how something is fun.

        • alw says:

          Or, turning that around, there’s only about 1 million people defending the buyout, so their opinion doesn’t really count for anything either according to that logic.

          • Syphus says:

            My guess is that the vast majority of people heard about this went, “What’s Oculus Rift?” So its more likely that most people have no opinion.

          • HadToLogin says:

            There’s not a million people defending buyout. There’s only few of them, rest either doesn’t care or is too busy buying and using Oculus Rift.

            Also, whose voice is louder in your opinion: one million alws and HadToLogins and other anonymous nicks on various internet sites, or one John Carmack?

      • gwathdring says:

        I don’t use Facebook.

        But that’s besides the point, really. Being suckered into something doesn’t revoke your right to discuss the suckering process. Nor does being provided a bad service or otherwise problematic service somehow revoke your right to complain about the negative aspects of that service.

        There are many reasons to use Facebook despite it’s problems. Pointing out the superficial hypocrisy of it’s users complaining about it’s gross excesses is lazy at best and a celebration of consumer-abusive practices at worst.

      • belgand says:

        Not only do I not have a Facebook account, but I came onto a project last year that was using Facebook exclusively for the creation of accounts. I rewrote the code significantly to remove that and enable users to create accounts locally avoiding Facebook entirely.

    • Lemming says:

      Absolutely 100% agree with you. I keep getting funny looks when I tell people why Disney owning Marvel AND Star Wars is a bad thing.

  2. cpmartins says:

    No doubt it’s a good thing for the “RIFT”. Is it good for augmented reality and full immersion graphics? Well, do you like what facebook stands for? Monetization of character is page one of that. So NO, facebook in control of that is NOT a good thing. It is a BAD, BAD BAD, VERY VERY BAD thing concerning that whole field of technology. Carmack, I’ve been playing your gems since DOOM. I owe you a debt of fun, but no. Facebook is NOT a “Good thing” for VR, no matter what PR you’d like to feed me.
    I’d “VERY MUCH”‘d like to “DISENGAGE” from that thing as much as “POSSIBLE”, ” Thank ” “You” very much…

  3. Dawngreeter says:

    Wait. Hold on. This wouldn’t happen to be an April’s Fools Day joke?

  4. SomeDuder says:


  5. ironman Tetsuo says:

    He does have a point concerning the big players though, you could easily see them being outplayed by companies that have the 2bn already in the bank and if they want to hold on to a large slice of the VR pie they were going to need a big player to back them. It’s just a shame it had to be Farcebook, but better them than EA or Activision.

  6. Harlander says:

    Does that photo have a weird aspect ratio, or is it Carmack who has the weird aspect ratio?

    • BoZo says:

      The picture. In this case at least.

    • ChrisGWaine says:


    • Grygus says:

      I think they’re trying to make him resemble the troll meme guy.

    • Radiant says:

      After years of bending computers to best fit reality.
      Carmack bends reality to best fit computers
      Events of Quake one begin to occur in Northern California
      Hailed as a genius by nerds and hells legion.

      Tells John Romero to hold that shit.

  7. Grargh says:

    I get the feeling he actually doesn’t get what the problem is with facebook. Yeah, data mining is powerful and the possibilities are endless. Just like genetic enginieering, or drone technology, or nuclear chain reactions.

    • Shooop says:

      2 billions dollars helped him ignore that fact.

    • Pliqu3011 says:

      “Yeah, data mining is powerful and the possibilities are endless. Just like genetic enginieering, or drone technology, or nuclear chain reactions.”
      So things that can be used for both good and bad shouldn’t be allowed? Just about every major invention in all of human history fits that description though.

      • Llewyn says:

        So things that can be used for both good and bad shouldn’t be allowed? Just about every major invention in all of human history fits that description though.

        No. Things that can be used for both good and bad aren’t automatically good things when used. Carmack seems to imply that, in the case of data mining at least, they are.

    • The Random One says:

      Yes, data mining isn’t evil by itself. But to use the nuclear chain analogy, Facebook has been firing nukes left and right for ages and want us to believe they’re buying this plutonium for energy generation only.

  8. Gap Gen says:

    The squad fans out, plasma rifles pointing radially outwards. A tracking device beeps, armoured fingers tapping the sensor. A fan thrums in the distance, metal blades cutting the air.
    “There is a case to be made for being like Valve…”
    “Did you hear that?” Safety catches flip, muzzles scanning for the source of the noise. A scampering sound can be heard in the corridor ahead.
    “…the difference is that, for years, the industry thought Valve was nuts…”
    The sound was closer. Silence as the marines sighted their weapons, waiting for their prey to appear. The tracker beeped, the dot moving closer.
    “VR won’t be like that. The experience is too obviously powerful”
    The unease in the room was palpable. “They’re right on top of us!” a marine shouts, the tracker shaking in their hand.
    A shape shifts above.
    “…and it makes converts on contact” A marine turned into red mist, half a torso flopping lifeless to the floor. Wild firing, screams.
    “…the real questions were how deeply to partner, and with who”, as a marine’s spinal column is ripped from their body, arterial spray painting the walls.
    “…I have zero personal background…”
    A helmeted head rolls in front of a machinegunner, who panics and sprays bullets across the ceiling, ripping open steam ducts and electrical cabling.
    “…obvious synergies…”
    The last marine standing cowers amongst the middle of a pool of blood and viscera. Silence, heavy breathing. Wide eyes scanning the room.
    “You don’t make a commitment like they just did on a whim.”
    A scream.

    A fan thrums in the distance, metal blades cutting the air.

  9. Spacewalk says:

    “All these people in this room and they don’t know that it was me who farted”.

  10. serioussgtstu says:

    John Carmack is now a data collection apologist who works for a data collecting mega-corporation. I did not see that coming.

    • jrodman says:

      Perhaps the cult of Carmack can start to gain better perspective. He’s a smart guy but you’re seeing a huge blind spot here.

      Good at thinking through one set of abstract problems doesn’t make you a visionary in totally different ones. It’s almost a little chestnut about the analytical geniuses who can’t see how things will turn out. For example the apocryphal story about Einstein dreaming that the atomic bomb might make war pointless.

      • LionsPhil says:

        No kidding.

      • manny says:

        But actually nukes have made major wars pointless due to mutually assured destruction.

        • LionsPhil says:

          The fact nukes have been used in war kind of puts a hole in the argument that the existence of nukes prevents war.

          I doubt any of us posting on an Internet comment thread really have the geopolitical nous to assess why we are not currently in a world war, given the growth and strengthening of economic interdependencies, and I don’t think anyone can reliably assert that there will never be another.

          • All is Well says:

            While I have no clue as to whether or not nukes have prevented any wars, I’d just like to point out that Little Boy and Fat Man were used against a nation that couldn’t mount a *conventional* military response, let alone a nuclear one, so the “mutual” part of MAD was missing. It’s sort of akin to the “guns=safety” argument: it only prevents aggression if everyone is armed.

          • Lanfranc says:

            But the war in which nukes were used was started before there were nukes.

          • Volcanu says:

            I think it’s worth remembering that the atomic bombs dropped on Japan were orders of magnitude less destructive and effective than Cold War-era nuclear weapons.

            Whilst undeniably significant, and carrying a huge psychological impact, they weren’t any more destructive than dropping masses of incendiary devices on a city (see Tokyo, Dresden etc).

            Also the US knew that their adversary did not possess the technology (or capability) to respond in kind.

        • Gap Gen says:

          The main flaw with MAD is that decision-making timescales and diplomatic timescales are much longer than the timescale needed to launch now, because if you don’t then the enemy will blow up your country with your nukes still on the ground. Couple that with technical flaws, communication errors, etc, and it’s basically chance that the world wasn’t nuked during the Cold War.

          That said, it’s possible nukes stopped a land war in Europe, but I’m not convinced that MAD is a great replacement.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            I wonder, did they ever discuss the possibility of a planetary get-out clause to MAD?: If a launch by one enemy equals the counter by the other, and the assured wiping out of humanity – then might someone make the decision to effectively fall on their sword as a race and NOT launch the counter? Whilst true that ‘letting the other bastard win’ is something you do not want in a war, if you know for a fact you, nor they, will be around to further the species, then does there come a point where you choose not to retaliate?

            I dunno, just thinking out loud, spattering my thought juices over your highly trained brain chasms.

          • Volcanu says:

            Interestingly the USSR had a system called the ‘Dead Hand’ which would semi-automatically launch their nuclear arsenal in the event of a surprise decapitation strike by western nuclear armed submarine forces against the Soviet leadership.

            Supposedly it could be turned on in times of crisis and if it detected nuclear detonations in the USSR then it would send launch signals to the ICBM silos, ensuring a massive retaliatory strike. Assuming this was true, and assuming that Western intelligence knew of it’s existence (I’m assuming you would WANT your adversary to know you had such a system, or at least THINK you had something similar) then hotheads would be deterred from advocating a quick strike from short range nuclear weapons.

            I agree it’s terrifying when you think of the scope for human error/ misunderstanding to lead to global nuclear annihilation. Don’t know if any of you saw the recent news stories about how a NATO wargame in 1983 was interpreted as a genuine precursor to an attack on the USSR by some Soviet officials? Apparently it caused them to send nuclear armed submarines under the arctic ice, arm their bombers and place their missile silos into a ready state as a precaution. Pretty chilling.

          • manny says:

            Only problem with MAD is that it requires two equal powers. A smaller power having nukes such as a muslim state run by jihadists for example, can commit suicide/martyr themselves by nuking their enemies in a false flag attack, successfully destroying their infidel opponents. (Communist Russia and the U.S.A).

    • Stupoider says:

      I can see some comparisons between Carmack and Luckey with Wernher von Braun. Can’t say I hate them for it.

  11. Becalel says:

    Isn’t the problem in large part due to the fact that Oculus was a massively successful Kickstarter campaign? All those thousands of people who invested their money in a gaming device that now just simply ceased to be a gaming device and became a social media accessory… If I ran a KS campaign aimed at the banana lovers to establish a Fair Trade banana farm and then decided to sell it to Tesco to so they can farm cows and sell the milk at 30p a litre, I guess it would not go down well with my hippie (not-any more) friends.

    • Entitled says:

      You can’t run akickstarter to “establish a business”, only to deliver a service or product.

      Kickstarter is for backing products, not for investing in businesses.

      The people who have backed the Kickstarter have all got their DK1s a year ago, and those didn’t turn into anything else from the aquisition.

    • Josh W says:

      Yeah it’s a dual problem, the first is the mood whiplash itself from having this change of ownership (and the grey areas of the emotional terrain kickstarter runs off of), the second is how bad an idea this could be in practical terms.

      It’s crap to fall off of an unexpected waterfall, it’s crap to end up in the rapids. And this happened partially because this seemed an obviously bad idea, but for whatever reason that obviousness is not yet culturally expressed in an explicit enough way. I don’t think the guys made this choice from malice, from wanting to rip off their backers, but from totally disregarding the tensions implicit in the process entirely.

      Like you know when people say “we’re very grateful to the backers, very aware of their support”, that’s sometimes just a markety thing,

      but it also means, “You have chosen to support us, and the dynamics of the exchange mechanism mean that you did it in a one time payment for a later effect on our part, unlike in instant mutual transactions of sale, you have automatically placed trust in us to deliver on both what we intended to fund, and the broader social momentum that created our capacity to fund it in the first place. We recognise that you were generous supporters, not merely pre-order customers.”

      This is partly why stretch goals are so compatible with kickstarter, these things naturally grow beyond their original beginnings, and that normally works really well, it’s exactly how they grow and bring in new backers, they become a social cooperative event centred around a funding decision.

      It is that mixture of emotions that has been betrayed, and it has been betrayed by doing something that is itself a really bad idea.

      • Stupoider says:

        A lot of words, but you didn’t really say anything.

        Where’s the betrayal of trust? Backers got whatever reward they pledged for. They’re not bloody shareholders, backers need to stop acting like they are.

        • PAK-9 says:

          There is nothing technically wrong with what Oculus did, but if they had said in there original Kickstarter that in the future they planned to sell their business to Facebook then people would have had a different attitude to backing it. I’m not saying they could or should have done that but it is understandable that people would feel a bit betrayed.

          By way of comparison if I backed a Kickstarter and the company involved went on to do something really bad or socially destructive I would feel a bit guilty, even if I had no way of knowing they would go on to do so. A kickstarter campaign isn’t a vacuum that is completely detached from the businesses and people involved.

          • Lanfranc says:

            But surely the Oculus people didn’t know they would later be bought by Facebook when they ran their Kickstarter. Are we expecting Kickstarter-ers to be clairvoyant now?

          • LostInDaJungle says:

            “Hi I have an idea and lack even the basic funds to make it happen now, and every VC has laughed at me, so I’m asking the fans to fund us! BTW, we plan to sell out to Facebook in 2 years for $2 Billion dollars.”

            No offense, but I think anyone with an IQ over 50 could have figured out that Oculus would have to partner with SOMEONE down the line. Some fanboi rage because it was Facebook, not Valve?

            Ooooh, Facebook is evil! They give me a free service that I use daily and then expect to use the data I freely give them to target ads at me. Grrrr….

            Advertising is what brings you most of the TV shows you watch. It brings you most of the websites you read. It brings you most of the music you listen to. If you’re reading and commenting on this site right now, you’re reaping the benefits of advertising.

            You folks are taking your government cheese while complaining about welfare.

            Now, we can have the current system where random ads are shotgunned at everyone with a pulse. Nothing better than being a guy on a cooking site and getting tons of Tampax ads. Or, you can have advertising that’s USEFUL. We all read sites like these to learn about new games coming out we might like, etc… What if advertising served that purpose?

            What if, because their ads are more targeted, they make a better attempt to engage and educate the consumer instead of just trying to be the flashiest thing on the page?

            Frankly, I’ve been pleased to see that over the last few years I’m seeing less “Click the Monkey” and “Lose 10 lbs of Belly Fat” ads on Facebook and more ads targeted at the things I like. Google Now sets up it’s cards based on my history, so it alerts me to new content without me having to go in and add an RSS feed or other BS. I wish Flipboard would learn my preferences so readily.

            People have this knee-jerk reaction…. Data mining is evil! Until the day Spotify uses that data mining to turn you on to a new band. How many of you participate in the Valve hardware survey? Do you like Gmails junk filtering? Data mining is a tool. Successful advertisers use that tool skillfully and well. The hotter the lead, the cooler the approach. The higher the cost of the advertising, the more that it gets restricted to skilled advertisers.

            For an easy comparison, look at the Super Bowl ads… The ones everyone has to watch again the next day and debate which was best, with the crap from some local company at 2 AM. Look at the difference between the ad pitches in prime time vs. the off hours. Those “Click the Monkey” banners only exist because their embarrassingly low performance is offset by the incredibly low cost of web advertising. Spam is the absolute cheapest and the absolute worst.

            Most visionaries are laughed at in their lifetime… So I guess Carmack has still got it. He’ll wait a decade or so for everyone else to catch up.

        • Josh W says:

          “They got whatever reward they pledged for” kickstarter is not a pre-order service, in it’s basic design, you don’t pledge to receive a reward, you pledge to support a project, and get a reward. A whole load of crowd promotion is involved in how kickstarter actually works, with people rooting for the goal of the project creators. That’s part of what makes it a lovely way to get funding.

          It’s pretty naive to say that people supported oculus to get a starting dev kit. They did it because they were looking towards the future. Oculus succeeded on the basis of that optimism, and there was always a social movement component. That’s actually how kickstarter brings in so much cash, it’s about mobilising people, and so you need to balance the dynamics and requirements of being at the head of small social movement with the commercial requirements of being a producer for customers.

          You can’t just assume it will stay in one category of human experience just because there is money involved. That would be like saying prostitution does not involve sex because people pay.

          • quintesse says:

            Exactly, we all ordered our dev kits in *full knowledge* that they would use the resulting experience and feedback to make a *commercial product*! Those two last words mean that we *all* knew that this was a company with the intention of selling products somewhere down the line. We *payed* to be guinea pigs!

          • Josh W says:

            There’s a little bit of “yeeeah” I’m reading in that reply I don’t quite get. Regardless, I don’t think the oculus makers have changed in their position; they still seem to have kept that movement-focused “let’s make things happen” attitude to what the facebook buyout means, and are arguing for it in those terms, with it making them stupendously rich almost as a side effect.

            But the angle the criticism is coming from is simple; they put themselves into a trusted position as custodians of the start of a new industry, and this was a bad step in terms of the control of that industry by a company with a poor attitude to their customers. On the basic consumer capitalist level, a company got bought out by a bad one, annoying, and a serious damage to their brand. On the social level, they are saying “lets ally our objectives with those of these people, because of the resources they have, and lets do it in such a way as we give them massive amounts of control over our future direction, the moment they decide to use it”. And the “our” there is a group that doesn’t just mean the tiny amount of staff who actually work for the company, but the whole developing collective around the company, who funded it, developed games for it, and generally cooperated to get that far. People who will now be deciding if they want to remain part of that broader collective.

            I’ve been waiting for conformation that oculus took any precautions about the deal going bad, about having something to do if facebook started coming in and breaking things, taking their oppressive attitude to privacy and applying it etc. It’s bizarre that they seem to be basing this just on “a good personal relationship”. Even people getting married (which is presumably a close relationship) know that if they part ways they can get some kind of divorce, and sometimes set up pre-nuptual agreements specifically for that eventuality, but if this goes wrong, what happens? They have to leave at the door leaving facebook with everything they’ve worked on.

            They’ll keep the money though, but if promoting a good future for VR is what they wanted, they took a very limited view of the situation. A deal with facebook on open technology funding that facebook could then use? Weird, but then we’d all be saying that “well, at least if facebook start being dodgy they can limit their cooperation to what has already been agreed, and then walk away, they’re taking the upsides and mitigating the downsides”.

            Just blankly selling the company means embracing the possibilities of the downsides for the sake of cash.

  12. Fathom says:

    This doesn’t surprise me. Carmack is brilliant, but is famously known for not caring about or having much patience for actual human beings.

    • manny says:

      Carmack is a brilliant engineer intoxicated by the power of data mining. He must not mind ads. Var ads might be a little more intrusive though.

    • GardenOfSun says:

      … which kind of puts a hole in the whole “brilliant” part.
      (although I guess he could still be a “brilliant programmer”, just in the same way you can be a “great carpenter” and still don’t understand much about life)

      Admittedly, regarding the issue at hand, we should also remember his personal interest in the matter.

  13. tomek says:

    He ruined my middle-school degrees and now wants me to start using facebook. Might be Satan!

  14. Low Life says:

    Soon Facebook will have the most extensive collection of head rotation angles in the world. Then nothing will stop them.

    • Josh W says:

      Or eye fixation data, the world’s most distracting adverts, ever.

  15. Deadly Habit says:

    I swaer this pic they keep using of Carmack is the worst, it has the “I know something you don’t know shit eating grin”.
    The only thing I worry about with this merger is the code remaining open source. Otherwise my latest dev kit order feels safe as they seem to have a killer engineer team behind them especially with Valve’s VR heads leaving Valve for Oculus and Carmack. This company seems to have nowhere left to go but up, I just wish it would go publicly traded before the market notices them with Facebook’s acquisition.

  16. TwwIX says:

    Well, of course he is. Irrelevant fossils from the 90’s gots to eat to.

  17. Radiant says:

    What is a facebook?

      • Radiant says:

        Honestly its ridiculous. A pair of blindfold googles and headphones, if they make me sit in a tank full of water I’m calling the cops.

        • Radiant says:

          Anyone who updates their status [I lied] to “I’ve just got an Occulous Rift!” should automatically be placed into a facebook data set called “people easy to burgle.”

          Sell that data grouping to insurance companies, romanian mob front companies and scousers.

          • Radiant says:

            I need twitter.

          • Radiant says:

            Invests money via kickstarter
            Company starts to succeed
            Bitches and moans about it selling out

            Hipster nerds.

            World has now inverted.
            Last 30 minutes of Ghostbusters now imminent.

          • Radiant says:

            Testing the Occulous Rift dev kit:
            link to

          • Radiant says:

            Remember when we all sat around to watch Mike play on his Occulous rift and then opened a portal to the blood world through sheer boredom?
            Good times.

  18. derbefrier says:

    So there are two camps here. One are the dorm room liberal types. You know the nieve, idealistic man children who think they know everything but know nothing. The ones who will proudly assert that they will not support OR now because they have “sold out”.

    Then you have the more reasonable side. The people that understand that VR will never be more than a passing rich nerds toy with minimal support from indie devs while the big guys mostly ignore it. These people understand that for VR to really take off a simple kickstarter while great to help develop the tech as a start isn’t going to be able to support it longterm, they will need help, lots of it. This is of course were facebook comes in. Will this keep VR from becoming another virtual boy? Who knows but one thing you can say for certain is that without some big bucks to back it up OR was never going to be more than a devkit. It take a lot of money, more than any kickstarter to get a peerhipial out to the mainstream market.

    • AngusPrune says:

      What about people who realise that Facebook have no pressing interest in VR or any way to integrate it in to their business. People that realise this’ll be Ebay and Skype all over again, that Oculus is in for a period of profound underinvestment followed by a dime-on-the-dollar sale to some would be competitor, probably Microsoft.

      Selling the company to Facebook isn’t good for Oculus or Facebook, the only people who come out ahead in this deal are the people who invested in the company back in December and who engineered the sale.

    • Lemming says:

      Not seeing any bias at all in that comment. I honestly have no idea which camp you consider yourself a part of *straight face*.

    • Distec says:


      I do love that you threw in the “doom room” bit. I don’t know about where you live, but there isn’t a day I turn on the TV and hear from some conservative about how my country is spiraling down the drain.

  19. MkMax says:

    my main problem with facebook getting their paws in oculus is that the device handles a surprising amount of personal information to do its thing, what you look at, how long, how you move, how you aproach things, how you explore rooms, etc. we are talking about a company that explored the posibility of creating psycological profiles looking at your and your friend’s facebook, that packaged and sold your personal data, that pioneer social enginiering though social media, it will be easier than ever with this kind of info

    if anyone was creeped out by kinect 2 they should be freaking out about the oculus, although to be honest nothing of this would be any different with a different company, facebook’s reputation just highlighted it

    • Stupoider says:

      Seems like more hyperbole to me. The Kinect was recording audio, and had a camera recording your living room. The Oculus is a monitor with only slight controller elements, I don’t think Facebook is interested in how you tilt your head. As for everything else, such as looking at things and navigating rooms (???) any FPS could record that data, but I don’t know why it would be necessary.

      There’s nothing to freak out about.

      • MkMax says:

        they ARE interested in what you look at, very interested, it says a lot about you, specially if you want to target ads

        but yeah fps are already recording what the reticle points at, however they are not recording what your EYES are looking at tho (its not really the same, looking at the eyes is far more accurate and depending on the type of sensor you can also tell things like mood, if you are accessing certain parts of your brain with the involuntary movement as you do things and even health conditions like if you are high, drunk, etc, interesting to tell when to push crap at you)

        about the audio i would be very surprised if the whole kit did not include a mic in the camera or the device

        there is no avoiding it tho, they will eventually get that info one way or another, its the way the world is going, i guess ill have to learn to live with it, i just rather they were up front instead of spinning it with it so i wouldn’t have to go all paranoid every time they take a step forward in this direction

        • BananaMan3000 says:

          Like most of the stuff people are saying about Facebook buying Oculus, this just makes absolutely no sense at all.

          Almost all laptops, some desktops and all smartphones contain cameras/webcams and mics and have done for years. Why would Facebook spend $2billion buying something that is going to be used by a tiny tiny amount of people compared to the 375,000 iPhones Apple sold EVERY SINGLE DAY in Q3 of 2013.

          Facebook bought Oculus as a long term strategic bet because they think VR could be a major part of the future of computing and they’re afraid people won’t all use Facebook forever – not because they want to steal the device and record people’s eyes or to fund it by flashing ads up at the tiny number of users it’s going to have.

          If I hear one more school kid screaming about how it’s going to require a Facebook login (WhatsApp and Instragram are both social media services owned by Facebook and they don’t require Facebook logins!) or how they’re going to force people to have adverts streamed into their games I’m going to lose the plot. Get a grip people!

    • LostInDaJungle says:

      Keep fishing bro. I’m sure there’s a valid point somewhere in this lake of FUD.

  20. Shooop says:

    Accurate headline: “Man working with company that got 400 million dollars says nice things about company that gave them the money.”

  21. manny says:

    Money talks, bullshit walks.

    Like Jesus said “Let he among you who would turn down a lifetime worth of prostitutes and designer drugs, cast the first stone against the Occulus team selling out to Facebook”

  22. Zenicetus says:

    The idea that companies are supposed to interact with you and not pay attention has never seemed sane to me.”

    That’s funny, because I have this very expensive joystick sitting on my desk, and I don’t think it’s paying attention to me. That would creep me out.

    I’ll buy VR gear when it’s dumb hardware that enhances my gaming, like that joystick. I’m not buying into some VR-linked social ecosystem with data mining.

  23. Beelzebud says:

    Let’s put it this way. If Facebook sold a line of PC monitors, I wouldn’t buy them because I’d immediately be wary of what hidden things the device was doing to data mine for Facebook. VR is no different. VR will come, and when it’s here I’ll buy it from a hardware vendor, not a “social media” company.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Precisely this. Assuming “social media” is short for commercial data mining and mass surveillance facilitator.

  24. Kittim says:

    Pfft, Enjoy your 30 pieces of silver Carmack.
    Kindly crawl under your no doubt lavishly appointed rock and keep your Facebook sponsored options to yourself from now on.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Isn’t he a facebook employee now – well an employee of a facebook owned business.

  25. eclipse mattaru says:

    This article makes me feel so alone: First, I can’t believe people fell for the whole VR scam yet again –have we already forgotten how badly the headache-inducing fad of the early 90s crashed? Second, I can’t believe people still take Carmack’s opinions into consideration –the man sure is a genius and what have you, but, gaming-wise, has he really done a thing worth remembering since Quake 2?

    I just don’t understand anything anymore.

    • LostInDaJungle says:

      The games themselves might have been meh, but the tech behind them has been pretty revolutionary. Google “MegaTexture”.

      Carmack writes game engines. His improvements to graphics technology power many of the games you play today whether he wrote the engine or not.