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March 25, 2014 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Mark Zuckerberg buys Occulus Rift the darling of 3D VR gaming (previously: 1, 2) for about $2B. Given that the Oculus Rift was poised to be a major breakthrough for gaming, getting acquired by a advertising company social network has sent The Internet into a collective freakout.
posted by mathowie (338 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ha, I was working on a post about this too.
posted by kmz at 3:03 PM on March 25


Well, I didn't see that coming.

Oculus Rift + WhatsApp = SnapChat VR?

List of mergers and acquisitions by Facebook
posted by mbrubeck at 3:05 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Facebook for yer face.
posted by planetesimal at 3:05 PM on March 25 [13 favorites]


Note that just last week at GDC Sony unveiled their VR headset, Project Morpheus, to quite good reviews.

That $2B tag though. Jesus.
posted by kmz at 3:05 PM on March 25


(Yo dawg I heard you like face...)
posted by planetesimal at 3:06 PM on March 25 [11 favorites]


I don't really understand what Oculus Rift is, so I just mentally replace all instances of "Oculus Rift" with "Octopus Raft". It brings me comfort.
posted by oulipian at 3:06 PM on March 25 [50 favorites]


"Cut to: Oculus Rift offices: "We glued an iPad to a diving mask and BOOM two billion dollars. THAT's our fucking TED Talk."" -- Warren Ellis on twitter just now.

Sounds about right?

Who would've ever imagined John Carmack would end up a Facebook employee...
posted by sparkletone at 3:06 PM on March 25 [40 favorites]


I thought he died over the weekend
posted by thelonius at 3:06 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Whatever puts money in Carmack's pocket while being interesting to him at the same time is a boon to technology as a whole.

Also why do these things not have a front-facing camera as a standard feature? It eliminates the problem of wearing an opaque box on your head and opens augmented reality up at the same time.
posted by griphus at 3:07 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


Well at least now I can walk around my farm (is that still popular on facebook?).

On a serious note, Facebook is quickly turning into Yahoo with the terrible investments - 2 billion? Sure, it's groundbreaking but other companies such as Sony are quickly realizing the emerging market and dropping huge amounts of money into it. Dumb investment on a product I was very excited to see and now won't touch with a 10 foot pole.
posted by lpcxa0 at 3:07 PM on March 25 [10 favorites]


Chuck Wendig reacts.
posted by Fizz at 3:07 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


It eliminates the problem of wearing an opaque box on your head and opens augmented reality up at the same time.

Maybe...maybe this is to counter Google's own AR project, Google Glass?
posted by FJT at 3:09 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


God, this makes zero sense. Why would facebook buy one of the most interesting indie gaming bits of hardware? So we can "fly" over a Sony commercial someday?
posted by mathowie at 3:09 PM on March 25 [15 favorites]


This technology is amazing. It feels like I can just reach out and TOUCH the tech bubble...
posted by naju at 3:09 PM on March 25 [89 favorites]


I hope they rename it "FaceBag" so you can strap it on and get fed some of that sweet, sweet, targeted "content."
posted by Fleeno at 3:10 PM on March 25 [42 favorites]


Apparently there was a bidding war?

https://twitter.com/patrickklepek/status/448574747907866624

Unfortunately for us, Facebook won.

Probably for the best, I really don't need to be spending the money on an OR kit.
posted by longdaysjourney at 3:11 PM on March 25


...the fuck?

I've been waiting for the Rift with bated breath. Just last night, I was checking on its progress, watching people gaming with it on YouTube, and generally wondering when I can hook up the feeding tube and disappear from society.

Facebook's involvement is a giant turd in the punch bowl. There's only one reason Facebook does anything, and that's to mine more data about their users to sell to advertisers.

Blech. I am displeased.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:11 PM on March 25 [15 favorites]


Key words from Zuckerberg's announcement: "This is really a new communication platform."

Facebook is definitely looking beyond gaming, toward other types of "multi-player" shared spaces, including ones in the real world ("Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face").
posted by mbrubeck at 3:12 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


I thought google was buying all things like this? That would make more sense.
posted by rtha at 3:13 PM on March 25


I wish I could feel smug about saying from the get-go that Rift would never be the game-changing (no pun intended) leap that its evangelists proclaimed, but I sure didn't think this would be what killed it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:13 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Only blue..
posted by Fizz at 3:13 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Also why do these things not have a front-facing camera as a standard feature? It eliminates the problem of wearing an opaque box on your head and opens augmented reality up at the same time.

Part of the idea of full immersion is that opaqueness though. You can add camera feeds pretty easily to Unity (or whatever other engine you're using). A lot of people are experimenting with different camera placements too, like over the shoulder to simulate 3rd person games. Or swapping front camera feeds for two people.
posted by kmz at 3:14 PM on March 25


enjoying a court side seat at a game, consulting with a doctor face-to-face

Strangely I can already do these without FB.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 3:14 PM on March 25 [37 favorites]


I had the luck to try it. It worked splendidly. What a pity I won't buy it.
posted by hat_eater at 3:14 PM on March 25


I wonder if Mark actually used an oculus rift to experience that jump over the shark from a first person perspective.
posted by mullingitover at 3:16 PM on March 25 [21 favorites]


Not surprising... Google and Amazon are getting into the home console space. They're all betting on one or more of the Big Three not making it to the next round, and Valve sees the writing on the wall for the hobbyist PC and is frantic to keep the party going with the Steambox. About the only major player not serious about home gaming at the moment is Apple... as far as anyone knows. So of course Facebook wants on board.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:16 PM on March 25


A friend of mine postulated on Twitter that Facebook is becoming more of a holding company than anything else.

All I know is that the new Evony ads are going to be even worse than you imagined.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:16 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Fuck. I actually preordered the new dev kit this morning. Augh.
posted by phooky at 3:19 PM on March 25


Dammit, can't I buy anything not made by an advertising company anymore? I would really like to go back to just giving people money for goods and services.
posted by echo target at 3:19 PM on March 25 [47 favorites]


Okay so what's Facebook's biggest problem? Some of the time its users look at things that aren't Facebook. What does Oculus VR make? A screen you can strap to a person's face that they cannot look away from.
posted by aubilenon at 3:19 PM on March 25 [62 favorites]


Prepare for the immersive 3D poke experience.
posted by idiopath at 3:23 PM on March 25 [12 favorites]


idiopath: That's what they need! Force feedback! Right in the eyes!
posted by aubilenon at 3:23 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


I was holding out for VR.5 anyway.
posted by ckape at 3:23 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


A friend of mine postulated on Twitter that Facebook is becoming more of a holding company than anything else.

That's interesting. Imagine, long after Facebook the product/service is long dead a la Myspace, the company remains profitable for decades merely by licensing out technologies and playing the IP acquisition/offense/gatekeeping game. These purchases seem deeply shortsighted to me, but maybe it's the opposite and there's a long game that's carefully thought out?
posted by naju at 3:24 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Lovely. So you can be a Glasshole or have a FaceOctopus? ... No thanks.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:25 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Re comparisons to Google Glass, it is a completely different thing in a completely different space and application.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:25 PM on March 25 [13 favorites]


Oh well. And I was going to buy one of these too.

But DO NOT WANT domestic robocop.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:26 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


John Carmack: "Id's new corporate parent didn't really allow me the freedom to pursue the projects I was most interested in working on and that's why I moved to Occulus."

*looks at today's news*

"Motherfuckshitsandwich."

NB: This is completely made-up. Probably.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:26 PM on March 25 [17 favorites]


I read this as Facebook starting to shit itself that it's now sliding down the far slope of the cultural zeitgeist, and attempting to use its assets (while they're still massive) to acquire some The Next Big Thing, Ok Ok Any Next Big Thing, Oh God Please Let Us Find A New Thing Soon.
posted by anonymisc at 3:30 PM on March 25 [23 favorites]


Somehow it would be entirely appropriate for Facebook's decline to begin with a transformation into a 90s VRML vision of a social networking site.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 3:30 PM on March 25 [12 favorites]


And suddenly White Guys Wearing Oculus Rifts becomes even funnier...
posted by sparkletone at 3:31 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


Paranoid suspicion this is about eye tracking software.
posted by The Whelk at 3:32 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


I wonder how Valve feels now about having given up the VR hardware business to Oculus Rift? Not the potential lost riches, but I think they want more control over gaming platforms than Facebook will ever give them.
posted by Nelson at 3:32 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Apparently there was a bidding war?

Maybe Gabe Newell made an offer?

Or Google; they'd be more likely to make Zuckerberg lunge for the DUMP MONEY button.
posted by Iridic at 3:32 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


StrappedToYourFacebook
posted by The Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas at 3:33 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Apropos of nothing, "Facebookulus" sounds like a villain from one of Bill Amend's parody computer games that Jason Fox would play.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:35 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


Welp, Sony it is. For face-hugging virtual sexperiences.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 3:35 PM on March 25


A VR game that's addictive like Farmville would be worth a fortune. The next innovation is to allow you to direct deposit your paycheck straight with them.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:36 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I hope it comes with a crowbar.
posted by cacofonie at 3:36 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I heard you liked to facebook, so I put a facebook on your face so you can facebook while you face... anywhere
posted by anonymisc at 3:37 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


Already a bit of fallout:

Markus Persson ‏@notch 14m
We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:41 PM on March 25 [61 favorites]


I was about to post notch's tweet as well. Minecrat is the best imaginable existing candidate for the "VR game that's addictive like Farmville" feloniousmonk mentioned.
posted by sparkletone at 3:42 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Facebook is definitely looking beyond gaming, toward other types of "multi-player" shared spaces, including ones in the real world ("Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face").

But, why VR? I mean, on the business side you already have teleconferencing and WebEx/Cisco. On the consumer side, there's already Facetime, Skype, and Google Hangouts. I mean, selling a VR concert/ballgame sounds like a niche offering. I can't imagine that's his main reasoning to spend $2B on Oculus.

To put it another way, FB had money lying around. Unlike Microsoft who purchased Nokia and Google who bought (and later sold) Motorola, Facebook's major hardware acquisition is a VR company. Why Oculus VR and not a smartphone/watch/device maker?
posted by FJT at 3:44 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I'm heavenly blessed and worldy wise
I'm a peeping-tom techy with x-ray eyes...
posted by Iridic at 3:44 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


A VR game that's addictive like Farmville would be worth a fortune. The next innovation is to allow you to direct deposit your paycheck straight with them.

Tangentially related: I read some Tech-blog post the other day about a 4Chan user who claimed to be using GameStop as a bank account. Pre-order a bunch of games with his pay check, cancel a pre-order when he needed cash. No ATM fees, got all kinds of GameStop special content and swag, and he worked at a mall so it was super-convenient. Unclear whether he had to pay a fee to have his pay check cashed, but even so he'd save on overdrafts...
posted by Diablevert at 3:45 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


InYourFaceBook

There'll be "like" and "share" buttons plastered all over everything in future 3d games.

Sad.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:45 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Apropros of ... something: true story, in 1996 I worked with a software group at Schlumberger, the European oilfield services and tech company that makes Haliburton look kind of cheap and shabby, and this programmer buddy of mine explained to me one day — when a VP was in town and having a meeting with a bunch of folk — how dumb it was that corporate executives flew in expensive jets around the world to have meetings when there was VR hardware and software they could use instead.

I visualized some exec in a three-thousand dollar suit, assistants at his beck-and-call, strapping on a ten pound piece of hardware over his expensively coiffed head for a teleconference.

I told him that I really valued his advice on ferreting out the various build failures I had to deal with every night, really sharp engineer that he was. Oh, also, he was a libertarian. Similarly, after listening to his political theories, I would again remind him how much I admired his programming expertise.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:45 PM on March 25 [11 favorites]


Obligatory
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:46 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]




And suddenly White Guys Wearing Oculus Rifts becomes even funnier...

I don't really get it. I mean they look sorta funny I guess, but anyone would while wearing that thing. Why only white guys?
posted by Hoopo at 3:49 PM on March 25


Killed. With. A. Stick.
posted by fullerine at 3:49 PM on March 25


I don't really get it. I mean they look sorta funny I guess, but anyone would while wearing that thing. Why only white guys?

What makes it seem sort of funny to me is that I'm guessing there are only approximately 4 photos in existence of anyone but white guys wearing Oculus Rifts. I could be wrong.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:52 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I seriously have not been able to find a single positive comment regarding this acquisition here or any other website I frequent. I guarantee that the vast majority of people like myself that pre-ordered a DK2, would not have done so if we knew facebook was going to be part of the picture...
posted by pleem at 3:53 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


FUCK.

Just.... Fuck.
posted by HarveyDenture at 3:54 PM on March 25


Now I'll never buy one. Oh wait, I would never have bought one of those silly things before.
posted by octothorpe at 3:55 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


What makes it seem sort of funny to me is that I'm guessing there are only approximately 4 photos in existence of anyone but white guys wearing Oculus Rifts. I could be wrong.

This. I also frequently find their half-visible expressions of amazement funny. It's the gaming equivalent of a tumblr of Google Glassholes (which I'm sure also exists).
posted by sparkletone at 3:56 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I've no idea, but does Facebook have a good or bad record when it comes to managing acquisitions? Like, do they leave the new guys alone inside a firewall, or do they expect them to integrate into the corporate structure, and take them apart when they fail to immediately produce?
posted by Kevin Street at 3:56 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I'd heard about the Oculus Rift, but hadn't actually seen somebody wearing one. It's good to know that Zuckerberg is keeping up with the latest in 1992 cyberpunk movie-prop technology.
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:56 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


The electrical-grid-frying solar flares really can't arrive soon enough, IMO.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:56 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


OK so imagine a bulbous camera that sits in the middle of your living room, scooting around on some kind of roomba device. Your mom wants to Skype so she can see her sweet grandbaby toddling around the house.

She dons her Occulous and is able to manipulate the camera in the middle of your room, making her feel like she's really there as your baby daughter runs in horror from the unceasing robot eye that has taken residence in her family room.

Fuck it guys, I tried really hard to spin this in a positive light but it got dark right quick.
posted by Tevin at 3:59 PM on March 25 [45 favorites]


It's the gaming equivalent of a tumblr of Google Glassholes (which I'm sure also exists).

White Men Wearing Google Glass.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:59 PM on March 25


Mark Zuckerberg has big plans for virtual reality.

Mark Zuckerberg has big plans to fuck up virtual reality.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:59 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


This just pushed the Rift 2.0 out of my wish-list. I probably wouldn't have used it anyway, but I was weighing ordering a Dev Kit model vs waiting for the commercial version since the dev kit 2 became available. I cannot imagine how they'd monetize this effectively. Steep licensing fees would strangle potential innovations that would make the device worth having...
posted by Busithoth at 4:00 PM on March 25


For those of you who have been following Oculus Rift's development, doesn't $2B seem low? (I don't mean in normal human terms, of course, I mean in Bizarro Internet Acquisition Cloud Cuckooland terms.)

Oculus' hype was off the charts; a whole lot of people weren't talking about it just as a new gadget they want, they were talking about it as an oncoming revolution to gaming. I really can't think of an unreleased product that had the sort of anticipation or goodwill that Oculus Rift had behind it.

I know I've gone through the looking glass when I'm arguing that $2B isn't a lot of money, but it's not what I would have estimated the value of the company would be.
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:00 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]




RIP Oculus Rift. We hardly knew you.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 4:01 PM on March 25


Mark Zuckerberg has big plans for virtual reality.

Mark Zuckerberg has big plans to fuck up virtual reality.


Mark Zuckerberg has big plans to fuck up reality.
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:01 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


Next up, Facebook merges with Clear Channel and the DOD to just beam advertising microwaves into our heads. Also buys Mattel.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 4:02 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


This. I also frequently find their half-visible expressions of amazement funny. It's the gaming equivalent of a tumblr of Google Glassholes (which I'm sure also exists).

I know haters gonna hate, but why despise people for doing something that brings them such amazement that it's so nakedly on their face?
What kind of asshole behavior was it that a "glasshole" did to you? To me this is reading like some kind of tall-poppy syndrome - a perception that these people need to be cut down to size and show 'em you're better-than, because... what? Because they're enthusiastic about something they find fascinating and had the opportunity to try it? It's kind of ugly.
posted by anonymisc at 4:05 PM on March 25 [18 favorites]


Just so you all are aware, the comments in this thread are pretty ridiculous.

For those who are not interested in gaming, yes, Oculus was a Very Big Deal. And this buyout also is very big news. Notch's tween in particular is a good indication of what just happened here.

Now I know the mid-afternoon crowd on metafilter is generally more hipster types who feign disdain for gaming but the level of ignorance on display here is pretty bad.
posted by Riemann at 4:06 PM on March 25 [12 favorites]


I'm not sure why people are so upset about this. When the Rift comes out later this year, and games support it via the SDK, what exactly will Facebook being the parent company mean to the end user?

If they have huge, weird Facebook integration to use the device, people will get annoyed regardless of who the parent company is. Lots of mobile games and websites have Facebook integration without being owned by Facebook. I don't even see any immediate concern for data mining, since it's a hardware company. We'll know if they do something stupid, like if data starts being shipped back to Oculus while you're playing a game.
posted by demiurge at 4:07 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I guarantee that the vast majority of people like myself that pre-ordered a DK2, would not have done so if we knew facebook would have been part of the picture...

I'm curious about the general negative developer reaction.

I'd love to know if it's:

* experience doing development with the Facebook API (and the clear emphasis on "break things" in their famed "move fast and break things" mantra)
* general suspicion about Facebook's privacy implications / motives
* the idea that FB is, at this point, pretty much another typical tone-deaf establishment business only capable of making anything it touches less cool
* something else
posted by weston at 4:08 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


I hope Valve aren't actually contractually obliged not to bring hardware out.
posted by jaduncan at 4:08 PM on March 25


Mark is demonstrating his business acumen by purchasing popular startups and instantly devaluing them by associating them with FaceBook.
posted by deanklear at 4:09 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


I would wager that they, like the rest of us, see Facebook as completely incapable of keeping its fingers out of the pie. This might play out as a deep-pocketsed company buying a small innovator so it can reap the profits when that innovator does whatever it was already doing, but I doubt it. They'll meddle.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:10 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I think at this point the internet would breathe a collective sigh of relief if Putin was spotted in the Oculus HQ elevators.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:11 PM on March 25 [10 favorites]


I'm unhappy because the way that Facebook thinks of games is fairly toxic and terrible. A company like Steam is interested in producing high quality games because that's what they sell (I was really hoping Steam would be the one to get Oculus). Facebook is interested in grafting advertising onto as addictive an experience as possible.
posted by codacorolla at 4:11 PM on March 25 [31 favorites]


I'm not sure why people are so upset about this. When the Rift comes out later this year, and games support it via the SDK, what exactly will Facebook being the parent company mean to the end user?

Where to begin? Because people were excited about the planned direction and use of the Rift, and now that might change. Because few people actually like or trust Facebook. Because Zuckerberg is widely regarded as a tool and there's the bitch eating crackers effect - nothing he does is any good.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:11 PM on March 25 [16 favorites]


I seriously have not been able to find a single positive comment regarding this acquisition here or any other website I frequent.

Same here, though there is a pretty hilarious coterie of business school sycophants cheering Zuck on in the comments of the announcement post.
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:11 PM on March 25


(Also I doubt there will be profits anyway, because wearables always fail, but that's a separate issue.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:11 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


This thread is interesting for a couple reasons, but mostly I'm surprised at Facebook's perceived (at least by Metafilter) lack of competence or, at least, their ability to bring a project to market that isn't unbearable.

They're like the M Night Shyamalan (or Uwe Boll?) of Silicon Valley.
posted by Tevin at 4:14 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Upgraded version of previous pic:

Facebookculus Rift
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:15 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Because people were excited about the planned direction and use of the Rift, and now that might change.

Well, before this was public, you could say "well, someone might buy the company and screw things up." I don't love Facebook and think it's pretty weird that they bought Oculus, but the reaction of "the sky is falling!" seems purely emotional and not based on any evidence.
posted by demiurge at 4:16 PM on March 25


How is #OculusPfft not a thing?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:16 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]




"Mark Zuckerberg has big plans for virtual reality.

Mark Zuckerberg has big plans to fuck up virtual reality.

Mark Zuckerberg has big plans to fuck up reality."


Well, don't stop there:

Mark Zuckerberg Has Big Plans to Fuck
Coming to Theaters Soon (Visit the Kickstarter Page!)
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:17 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Bizarre. He talks about telepresence type applications, but the Rift relies on super low latency feedback, which pretty much rules that out as far as I can see. I guess it potentially provides a new demographic to analyse and market at, but is the Rift going to sell more than a few million units?
posted by lucidium at 4:17 PM on March 25


Also, while this is certainly weird, Facebook acquiring a new screen technology seems an order of magnitude less creepy than Google buying the motion-detecting, house-mapping Nest thermostat. So there's that for perspective.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:18 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


(Previously on fake Jeff Jarvis.)
posted by larrybob at 4:19 PM on March 25


What was it about young people being smarter, Mark?
posted by Sequence at 4:19 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


I'm curious about The Whelk's eye tracking software comment. Isn't eye tracking something you need to do with VR? It makes a certain kind of sense that Facebook might have an interest in popularizing a device that can track what people are looking at, and how long they see it.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:19 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


demiurge: Well, before this was public, you could say "well, someone might buy the company and screw things up." I don't love Facebook and think it's pretty weird that they bought Oculus, but the reaction of "the sky is falling!" seems purely emotional and not based on any evidence.

I don't know, I think it's pretty justified. Aside from Facebook's general disregard for the desires of their userbase, they aren't a gaming company and they bought Occulus for not-gaming purposes. It was a gaming peripheral company, and now it isn't, or at least won't be for long. If you wanted it for gaming that's a pretty big deal.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:21 PM on March 25 [12 favorites]


.
posted by vicx at 4:22 PM on March 25


The rebranded Oculus Rift will be marketed as the :Ocuecat.
posted by delfin at 4:22 PM on March 25 [15 favorites]


Isn't eye tracking something you need to do with VR?

No. You need to do head tracking to move the picture in front of your eyes to match your head movement. Head tracking is different than eye tracking. The Rift doesn't have eye tracking and it would be cost prohibitive to do so with current technology.
posted by demiurge at 4:23 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


To be fair, Instagram and Snapchat are okay, right?
posted by Apocryphon at 4:23 PM on March 25


A friend of mine postulated on Twitter that Facebook is becoming more of a holding company than anything else.

What the frenzy of Facebook acquisitions reflect is that Zuck and other top Facebook execs know that Facebook-as-a-social-network has reached an inflection point and is headed towards irrelevance. Established users are disengaging, teenagers aren't signing up or regard their Facebook presence with distaste. Even though the userbase is massive and climbing, their internal analytics make it apparent that if they don't pivot their massive beast of a company, all will be lost in a few years.

In consequence, I'd be surprised if they use the Oculus Rift acquisition for evil. I think they genuinely want to transform into a different, more lasting kind of company, one that is not 100% focused on owning everybody's social graph. Because that's a fickle business, and one that's likely to experience generational upheavals on a regular basis.
posted by killdevil at 4:24 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


It was a gaming peripheral company, and now it isn't, or at least won't be for long. If you wanted it for gaming that's a pretty big deal.

I think that sums it up. Personally I'd be interested in seeing this optimized for long-form, immersive game worlds like Skyrim. The odds that the development plan Facebook has in mind for the tech resembles anything like "we want to facilitate amazing RPG gaming" is extremely low.
posted by naju at 4:27 PM on March 25 [9 favorites]


I played with it at the last GDC, they had the new high-def version set up with Eve: Valkrie, which was basically Decent:Freespace but with a VR headset. It felt so cool. Now it's going to have to be synced to a facebook account to work.
posted by hellojed at 4:30 PM on March 25


Confirmation: I'm no longer with it. I can't wrap my head around the fact that WhatsApp was valued at nearly ten times the worth of Occulus Rift. The technology of OR seems far more impressive and (potentially) useful to me, but WA is worth a lot more because ACTIVE USERS!!1!.
posted by fatehunter at 4:32 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


.
posted by mrgroweler at 4:33 PM on March 25


Why isn't this thing more of a helmut design, anyway?
posted by dreamling at 4:35 PM on March 25


WhatsApp has a broad active user base. Oculus Rift has buzz, and a long history of companies that tried to make similar products and failed miserably at selling them. I'd pay more for the first one too. Bird in the hand, two in the bush, etc.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:37 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


The technology of OR seems far more impressive and (potentially) useful to me, but WA is worth a lot more because ACTIVE USERS!!1!.

I think it's also easier to make super large sums of money by selling software or automated services and ads than it is from selling hardware. For hardware companies, margins are thin because of manufacturing costs, and for every additional sale, you have to manufacture an additional unit, store it, ship it, etc. Not to mention, gaming hardware like Xbox and Playstation is often sold at a loss, the lost money recouped through license fees on the software sales where the real money is.
posted by anonymisc at 4:37 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Facebook's general disregard for the desires of their user base

I maintain that this is why they are successful.

I've frequently compared Facebook to Apple and MySpace to Microsoft in this way.
Facebook and Apple are both known for being ready to abandon things when they decide it's time, and to change their core product dramatically. Often to much wailing and gnashing of teeth... for a while. Then people are happy.

Microsoft and, for the time when it mattered, MySpace, had a huge focus on backwards compatibility. Pleasing vocal customers. And then being bogged down by those decisions.

That ugly design myspace had before the relauches? It stayed that way because changing it would break customized pages, and those were the heaviest users. When they complained, it made sense to listen to them.

Microsoft's reputation for being unstable? Because they were still aiming to support All The Hardware and Software from Ever. At least, as far as I could tell from the outside.

I understand why the changes bother people, but I also understand why they do them.
posted by flaterik at 4:40 PM on March 25 [12 favorites]


Bizarre. He talks about telepresence type applications, but the Rift relies on super low latency feedback, which pretty much rules that out as far as I can see. I guess it potentially provides a new demographic to analyse and market at, but is the Rift going to sell more than a few million units?

The Rift relies on low latency for updating the display. But for telepresence, you wouldn't be sending that over the network, anyway. You'd have a shared VR space, which would work just like existing multiplayer games. Alternately, if you wanted to do actual video, rather than trying to pan/tilt the camera in response to the user's head movements, it would be better just to have a spherical camera and the oculus only shows you the part of the picture you're looking it. Though... I'm not quite sure how you'd do 3D in that situation.
posted by heathkit at 4:41 PM on March 25


In an alternate reality, Amazon bought the Rift for Mechanical Turk 2.0, where you get to drive a new generation of Kiva bots with manipulator arms making minimum wage doing warehouse work from your computer.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:44 PM on March 25 [12 favorites]


I don't love Facebook and think it's pretty weird that they bought Oculus, but the reaction of "the sky is falling!" seems purely emotional and not based on any evidence.

A bit of it is that there's not really any obvious consumer upside to Facebook, in particular, having bought them. The press release from Facebook says, to paraphrase, 'we think the Rift can do a lot of neat stuff.' Okay; that's the same thing that Oculus has been saying, and it's not immediately evident what Facebook's purchase brings to the table that couldn't have been duplicated by simply developing applications for the Oculus, or investment or purchase by another party. The Oculus press release notes that it's good to have more money so they can get more stuff done, and done sooner, but...that's a benefit of money, not of Facebook money. If there's no evidence that it's a good thing, a lot of people will see that as evidence that it must be a bad thing.

Separately, I think a lot of the angst is over Oculus being bought out at all, rather than remaining as an independent hardware developer. I imagine that there would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth had Google or Microsoft (or Yahoo) purchased them, too. They started the Rift off with a Kickstarter for their first dev version, and part of their original selling point was that it was "Designed for gamers, by gamers." A lot of their marketing has been emotional rather than strictly rational, appealing to people's interest in investing in an underdog pushing an innovative piece of tech, and framing the company as passion project. Selling it to anyone would be seen by some as selling out, rightly or wrongly.
posted by cjelli at 4:45 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Huh, just musing here. You could send some people with helmet cams and microphones to the best luxury box at the Superbowl, and stream it through Facebook. You could do the same at the Oscars or a Presidential inauguration, or any big event, or even stream things like wingsuit cliff skimming, or seven hour train rides in Denmark. Many of the things that attract people to YouTube could be done in VR on Facebook.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:47 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Thas right, Zuckerberg! Ride that magical cash pony all over God's creation! Your magical website shall never be abandoned, never! Thou shalt endure forever and ever and ever, just like all the other really smart Internet guys with wheelbarrows full of money! Long may you hasten the decline of Western Civilization!


Sent via hypRbole, the instant cranky message comment generator. Make yours today!
posted by Spatch at 4:50 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Telepresence is different than shared virtual reality. If you're talking about a shared VR space, sure, you can do it because the display latency is all on your end.

If you want telepresence, a bank of cameras in a sphere might work, to remove latency for head movement. However, that would dramatically increase the bandwidth required. You'd be pushing a lot of pixels to the client that would just be discarded.
posted by demiurge at 4:50 PM on March 25


Here's the thing: Facebook collects and sells data. That's what they do. I'm less than comfortable with the idea of being in a VR environment where every gesture, glance, zoom, word, breath, step and stumble is further classifying me for the purpose of selling me a goddamn widget.
posted by Mooski at 4:50 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Riemann: "For those who are not interested in gaming, yes, Oculus was a Very Big Deal. And this buyout also is very big news." [emphasis original]

I dunno, man. I don't have a problem with gaming or anything, I mean, games are fun and I like to think of myself as "pro-fun" and all, but if you think this is a Very Big Deal outside of the tiny corner of the world that is video games then I feel like you need to adjust your perspective a bit. When I think "Very Big Deal" I think climate change, economic globalization, cures for major diseases, sudden regime changes in major nations, that sort of thing. Not the purchase of a promising gaming company by a large non-gaming tech company. It might be a big deal to hardcore gamers, but that doesn't mean that anyone who's not a hardcore gamer should feel any obligation to care about it.
posted by Scientist at 4:51 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


So the future will be *worse* than depicted in flaccid virtual reality 80's nostalgia novel-by-numbers Ready Player One. IOI have bought OASIS before its public roll out.
posted by asok at 4:54 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I don't usually give in to nerd rage, but I couldn't help myself. I actually yelled 'FUCK' out loud when I saw this elsewhere this morning.

Nobody else was in the office yet, which is probably good.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:54 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


Not that there's anything wrong with being a gamer, mind you. And not that it's not certifiably a big deal to you if games are your thing and you were looking forward to this. It's just that the portion of the world that is likely to be significantly affected by this acquisition is really very, very tiny.
posted by Scientist at 4:56 PM on March 25


True telepresence might be a bit much for the Internet of 2014 to handle (at least in North America, you could probably do it in South Korea or Japan), but something that's less than true VR, but more immersive than looking at a screen might be successful. Most of it would probably depend upon marketing.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:57 PM on March 25


Scientist - I meant very big deal within the context of gaming of course.

What I found rather surprising is that most of the first 75 comments or so were by people who were unable to wrap their tiny minds around the idea that there exists interesting things in the world which they don't already know about. Hence, if they haven't heard of it, it Oculus and consumer VR must be lame / the same as it was 30 years ago / something for "nerds" etc...
posted by Riemann at 5:00 PM on March 25 [9 favorites]


Further to Notch's tweet on the subject, he's written a blog post:
I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook. Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform. There’s nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me.
posted by memebake at 5:00 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


If you want telepresence, a bank of cameras in a sphere might work, to remove latency for head movement. However, that would dramatically increase the bandwidth required. You'd be pushing a lot of pixels to the client that would just be discarded.

Well, sure. You could also only send the subset of video that will be displayed, plus an adaptive buffer of surrounding pixels that the user could look at before the client could tell the server to start sending video with the new view angle. I mean, it would be a big deal and require a new protocol, but it's not insurmountable. But for the Rift, removing head tracking latency can be the difference between an immersive experience and a nausea machine.
posted by heathkit at 5:02 PM on March 25


God I hope the Oculus leads to a revolution in telepresense just for the fucking hilarious stock photos of boardrooms where everyone has an opaque scuba mask strapped to their face.
posted by griphus at 5:04 PM on March 25 [22 favorites]


Wow - just get some tape and strap your laptop screen to your face. Looks like BS to me.
posted by xammerboy at 5:04 PM on March 25


So Oculus Rift looks and works like a magician's top hat that you strap to your eyes? Are there rabbits inside?
posted by oulipian at 5:05 PM on March 25


I don't care what anyone says, I'm just hoping this will bring us one step closer to virtual virtual skeeball.
posted by Poldo at 5:06 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Haha maybe Mark can sell an OR setup to my mom and my aunts because increasingly that is who use Facebook. I understand wanting to spend some of that monopoly money on a diverse product set. I mean it's done wonders for yahoo and Microsoft over the years. I look forward to Mark turning into the next Ballmer holding on to the decrepit shambles his company is rapidly morphed into.
posted by vuron at 5:07 PM on March 25


I don't know. My first reaction was negative as well, but stepping back a bit, it's hard to imagine how this will really impact consumers negatively. It's true that Facebook isn't interested in gaming as their primary focus, but it's not like Oculus is going to suddenly turn around and start making VR Facebook pages tomorrow. By the time their first on-the-shelf product releases, it'll still be gaming-focused at this point.

Oculus gets a lot of money, and that money buys a lot of time to figure out the design challenges of VR. Couple this with the fact that Sony just released their prototype VR at GDC last week, and it looks like VR for gaming is just getting started.

Yes, it's true that this acquisition means that Oculus is less likely to be at the forefront of gaming VR in fifteen years, but was that really a bet any consumer really wanted to make anyway?
posted by thewumpusisdead at 5:08 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Oh and goddamn everyone developing a competing product -- which I think is just Project Morpheus for now, but I can't imagine there isn't R&D going on behind closed doors -- must be positively giddy: the entire internet is abuzz with a bunch of pissed-off nerds who will be giving them money hand over fist out of spite.
posted by griphus at 5:09 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


You have to realize Riemann that VR has been the next big thing since the early 90s right? And it's never materialized because nobody wants to wear a HUD for hours at a time and nobody can seem to develop more than about an hour of compelling content at a time. As much as I think Google Glass isn't that compelling yet Augmented Reality is much more likely to be transformative in the near term.
posted by vuron at 5:13 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


People who don't know what Occulus Rift is, don't despair, you can read about it on the Internet!
posted by asok at 5:15 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Domestic Robocop
posted by Rhaomi at 5:17 PM on March 25


VR has been the next big thing since the early 90s right?

Come to think of it, when I first took a CS class, in 1995, the building was filled with stuff about the VR demos and research they were doing.
posted by thelonius at 5:17 PM on March 25


And it's never materialized because nobody wants to wear a HUD for hours at a time and nobody can seem to develop more than about an hour of compelling content at a time.

Alternatively, it might be that it never materialized because the technology has never worked before, and now for the first time, the technology is starting to work.
posted by anonymisc at 5:18 PM on March 25 [10 favorites]


vuron, previous HMDs have been heavy and expensive. This new batch is light and cheap and high-res, with low-latency trackers. There are a lot of compelling gaming applications out there already using it. I don't think it's going to be for everyone, and I have no good Facebook-related application for it, but it is not the same as the 90s tech.
posted by demiurge at 5:18 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Yes, I am aware of the various AR products underway (I am eagerly awaiting the kit I ordered from the CastAR kickstarter).

But there is something very different about the current gen VR kits as compared to what was available 30 years ago. Right now it really is a prosumer level tech and within another year or so will be a high end consumer good.

OR was especially important in that space as it had a real first-mover advantage and had the leverage to dictate the early Standards and Practices that were emerging. I think it is really possible that the FB buyout will cost them that envious industry position.
posted by Riemann at 5:18 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


.
posted by BYiro at 5:22 PM on March 25


I'm less than comfortable with the idea of being in a VR environment where every gesture, glance, zoom, word, breath, step and stumble is further classifying me for the purpose of selling me a goddamn widget.

Facebook's ad platform is, compared to Google Adwords or even Bing, laughably unsophisticated. Although things could change (and I am sure the Facebook folks are a lot smarter than I am), I don't know how VR is going to be a game-changer.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:24 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Right now it really is a prosumer level tech and within another year or so will be a high end consumer good.

May it become as wildly successful as the Virtual Boy.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:25 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


So FB is the new Yahoo?
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:25 PM on March 25




Sys Rq - I think a better comparison is 3d printers. Have you ever used one of those things? Right now it takes a lot of expert maintenance to keep a machine working that takes 8 hours to print a teacup.

But damn if they aren't on the edge of being something amazing.
posted by Riemann at 5:28 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Also, the White Guys Wearin' Oculus Rifts tumblr is funny precisely because of the expressions of slack-jawed wonder on the faces of so many of the wearers. This is because humans look ridiculous and stupid when overwhelmed by amazement and joy; it's nothing against amazement and joy, it just happens to be the case that our automatic physiological response to it tends to make us look like complete morons.

That we also look like complete morons when we strap large black rectangles to our faces is just icing on the cake.
posted by Scientist at 5:30 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Notch's "creepy" statement, blunt but true, was nothing compared to what I think all the Kickstarter customers are feeling right now:

And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.

Damn.
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:30 PM on March 25 [26 favorites]


Oculus basically had to get bought out, I think. Basically every aspect of VR is patented, and oculus is probably trampling on dozens of them. As soon as there was money being made, they were going to get slapped with millions of dollars in lawsuits. Having facebooks legal department and money will stop them from getting strangled in the crib.
posted by empath at 5:30 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


I want a cyberpunk future I mean we already have the corporate dystopia although 2012 failed to bring about the return of magic (thanks shadowrun) but outside of gaming it's hard to see a major application for this tech I mean it's unlikely to become VR sex rooms ala second life any time soon with Facebook backing it up. And let's be honest are Sony and Microsoft likely to license OR from Facebook for their consoles? I mean Bro gaming is the industry but won't Microsoft and Sony just sell their own VR tech?
posted by vuron at 5:31 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Sony just announced their own VR tech, so yeah.
posted by empath at 5:32 PM on March 25


Personally I think it's hilarious Silicon Valley managed to offload the VC risk to nerds via Kickstarter and can still swoop in and make the acquisition and the nerds get nothing at all.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:32 PM on March 25 [43 favorites]


So, these Oculus Rift things are what guys are going to be wearing in the near future while their girlfriends cheat on them in the next room? Is that it?
posted by dortmunder at 5:33 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.

Yeah people with ten grand to throw around should be smart enough to have worked out by now that you are not actually a real investor with actual rights and input when you do this Kickstarter stuff. No sympathy. I don't know why it's so hard for people to see this, still.
posted by Jimbob at 5:33 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


What makes it seem sort of funny to me is that I'm guessing there are only approximately 4 photos in existence of anyone but white guys wearing Oculus Rifts. I could be wrong.

I have not really been following rift stuff for a bit, but at least in the early days, the biggest Rift evangelist, and niche celebrity was Cymatic Bruce.
posted by St. Sorryass at 5:35 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


I can't really put my finger on why, but is anyone else kind of weirded out by all the emphasis on OR, since it is a techy / gamy thing, only being for "white guys"?

Seems more like it is at least as much a way to exclude non whiteguys as it is to poke fun at them.

Maybe it's just because I've been following CastAR so closely which is being engineered by the awesome Jerri Ellsworth.
posted by Riemann at 5:38 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Yes it will be interesting to see what 90s era patent trolls will come out of the woodwork to shake down Facebook for a piece of the action if they actually develop a decent revenue stream from this. If anything I think it would make sense to open source the tech ASAP like they have with some of the open computing stuff and just try to monetize applications rather than hardware which tends towards commodification.
posted by vuron at 5:41 PM on March 25


For those saying that gaming is a niche market, don't forget that video game revenue was approximately double the revenue of the entire world-wide film industry last year(65 vs 35 billion $$$)
posted by blue_beetle at 5:41 PM on March 25 [21 favorites]


vuron, as someone who has checked /r/oculus and watched some hype demos, I have to say, the current generation of VR will be the first to succeed. It amazes, and astounds. It is out of body.

Now that I've had that counter-comment, I will also pitch this out there. Zuckface made a good bet.
posted by sieve a bull at 5:41 PM on March 25


Yeah people with ten grand to throw around should be smart enough to have worked out by now that you are not actually a real investor with actual rights and input when you do this Kickstarter stuff.

I will never, ever understand why people who contribute to Kickstarters think they're investing in something.
posted by griphus at 5:41 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


The reddit thread where Palmer explains the sale has more than a few quotable responses.

"I wish I never kickstarted you." is one fairly pointed comment.

That is acknowledging the buy-in and the evangelising zeal that was captured during the kickstarter campaign. Something signficant has just happened and its not just about Facebook buying another technology startup.

And the gifs over here are venting fanboy and fangirl disbelief.
posted by vicx at 5:42 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Yes it will be interesting to see what 90s era patent trolls will come out of the woodwork

Yup, though patents from the 90's that are not already expired will be expiring in the new few years.
posted by anonymisc at 5:45 PM on March 25


the tiny corner of the world that is video games

"Gartner Says Worldwide Video Game Market to Total $93 Billion in 2013"

"Study: 1.2 billion people are playing games worldwide; 700M of them are online"

And while Oculus Rift has been a darling of the gaming cognoscenti for a while now, it's not just gamers.

"Virtual reality made me believe I was someone else"

I am no longer Aaron Souppouris. I am a woman. I am a stranger. I stare down at the mask I hold in my hands, struggling to comprehend how those hands, which are clearly not mine, are allowing me to feel its curves and cracks. As I glance at the mirror in front of me, my new lip piercing glimmers under the harsh fluorescent lights. This is not a fever dream, not a hallucination, not even a video game. This is The Machine To be Another.

[...]

BeAnotherLab is a small team focused on experiential demos that promote empathy, tolerance, and self-understanding by showing you the world from another person’s perspective. Its Gender Swap experiment saw two people wearing cameras and Oculus Rift headsets synchronize movements and "swap bodies." But while that experiment made headlines, it only represents a small portion of what the team is trying to achieve. Under the A Machine To Be Another banner, it’s enabled a disabled ballerina to perform with full use of "her" legs, and put people in the shoes of a Senegalese dancer in demo called Being Youssoupha.

posted by Celsius1414 at 5:47 PM on March 25 [12 favorites]


Facebook/Zuck must think the stock is overvalued. That's why they're acquiring as many companies as they can before the price drops.
posted by guiseroom at 5:47 PM on March 25 [9 favorites]


I don't really understand why you'd spend two billion quid on a company that haven't actually released anything yet. Why not spend that two billion on developing your own VR system? That'd be vastly more than Oculus have spent to get where they are now.

I assume facebook should be able to actually hire research engineers of their own somehow.
posted by dng at 5:50 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised at rumors of a bidding war over Oculus. Not that that one happened, but that it ended like this. There are relatively few players that would have a credible claim of interest in the technology -- Valve? Google? Sony? Nintendo? Microsoft? -- and as the public reaction makes abundantly clear, Facebook is the worst possible candidate on that list, at least in terms of user engagement and PR that are critical to a successful launch. That the OR team wouldn't opt for a moderately less lucrative offer from a more respected (or less hated) name is really odd. I'd love to know who the other suitors were.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:52 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


I don't really understand why you'd spend two billion quid on a company that haven't actually released anything yet. Why not spend that two billion on developing your own VR system? That'd be vastly more than Oculus have spent to get where they are now.

I assume facebook should be able to actually hire research engineers of their own somehow.


That takes time.
posted by empath at 5:53 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Screw putting streaming VR cameras in box seats, put them on the players' helmets.
posted by fings at 5:53 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Saying that the Oculus is doomed because Facebook is not a games company is like saying all those robotics companies are doomed because Google started out as a search company. I mean, self driving car, people.

General Electric -- look them up.
posted by bpm140 at 5:54 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


That the OR team wouldn't opt for a moderately less lucrative offer from a more respected (or less hated) name is really odd

Most people don't hate facebook.
posted by empath at 5:56 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


$2B? Oh, I get it, an Instagram for each eye.
posted by gwint at 5:56 PM on March 25 [11 favorites]


Occulus Rift is one of those things that makes me feel like the Future is about 5 years away. It keeps feeling like we're living in the era just before the sci-fi movie starts, like things are going to get really awesome... soon-ish, maybe. My dad wasted his youth waiting for the flying cars, and I'm wasting mine waiting for the Holodeck and stem cells that actually do something.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:57 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Why not spend that two billion on developing your own VR system?

1. Because that system probably couldn't compete in the marketplace with Occulus because it came from the shady Facebook millstone, while Occulus has the name and fame and love.
2. They didn't spend $2B, they exchanged stock and stuff. Stock which is totally worth $2B! Totally! :)
3. Because they have more money than time. As the shine might come off Facebook, so would the stock price, and a multi-year R&D project might be more affordable all at once now at a premium than if paid slowly over the course of years.
4. Yeah, it's kind of weird. But I guess if you've got a hundred billion burning a hole in your pocket, and shareholders dead set on making sure you don't spend it ending world hunger or anything like that, what would you spend it on?
posted by anonymisc at 6:00 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


I always hated that VR was a 90's thing because the hardware power simply wasn't there 15-20 years ago. Now, though, that power exists, and I'm excited to see the steps being taken to get us there.

But Facebook? Fuck Facebook.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:00 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Saying that the Oculus is doomed because Facebook is not a games company is like saying all those robotics companies are doomed because Google started out as a search company. I mean, self driving car, people.

They're not saying it's doomed, they're worried its mission is going to change, like how the mission changed for those robotics companies when Google bought them.
posted by anonymisc at 6:02 PM on March 25


dng, I would think that Oculus Rift would have generated some patents by now, even though Carmack is against software patents. A patent search for "oculus rift" only turned up two references though.

In the scheme of things, the technological head start of a focused small development team with brand recognition may be the appeal versus rolling their own VR.
posted by sieve a bull at 6:02 PM on March 25


A young person I talked to who wanted to work for Facebook couldn't grok that I had any negative opinions about the company.

I think people on Metafilter, as a sample population, have something to hide from Data Krakens, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.
posted by sieve a bull at 6:05 PM on March 25


2. They didn't spend $2B, they exchanged stock and stuff. Stock which is totally worth $2B! Totally! :)

Yeah, I'm pretty annoyed that the headlines toss that figure out there like it's $2B cash.

Then I laugh as I realize Facebook is heavily shorting their own stock.
posted by Room 101 at 6:05 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


I can't imagine a lot of Oculus Rift employees not going off reservation now. Just saying. There's gold in them thar hills, that ain't in Facebook country.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 6:08 PM on March 25


Yeah I'm sure that they are really upset about being instant millionaires.
posted by empath at 6:13 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Microsoft and, for the time when it mattered, MySpace, had a huge focus on backwards compatibility. Pleasing vocal customers. And then being bogged down by those decisions.

The disaster of Windows 8 totally refutes your thesis. The company ignored customers and is paying for it.
posted by smoke at 6:17 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Most people don't hate facebook.

It's hated by the early adopters, developers, and evangelists you'd need to make consumer VR a commercial success, and who are now probably going to throw their weight behind a competitor (probably Sony's Morpheus, but I'm hoping for Valve to unveil something great).

If you think that's insignificant, just look at how the toxic reaction to Microsoft's various Xbox One fiascos eventually prompted a corporate turn-around (and still ate into its launch sales versus the PS4).
posted by Rhaomi at 6:17 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Nerds hate Facebook, which makes them not the best folks to be marketing nerd-heavy products.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:19 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Man, the comments in that Palmer thread are just hilarious:

You were the Chosen One! You were supposed to destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness...

Notch shows up there too:

You got my respect before I met you. You kept it when I met you. I understand that this happened because people with investments in the company saw big sacks of dollar bills. I understand you're probably under a big NDA and stuck in golden handcuffs, and that this might be a frustrating situation.

I just hope you got your fair share. VR will live on. Thank you for being part of making it finally happen.

I really wish this hadn't happened.


And here's Palmer making his own "you can keep your health care" comment:

I guarantee that you won't need to log into your Facebook account every time you wanna use the Oculus Rift.

posted by longdaysjourney at 6:20 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Will facebook still let them release the virtual lawnmower?
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:23 PM on March 25


Good god, these things are ugly. It's like a digital version of the face mask from Johnny Got His Gun.
posted by dr_dank at 6:23 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.

Yes you did.
posted by Hatashran at 6:23 PM on March 25 [13 favorites]


When I think "Very Big Deal" I think climate change, economic globalization, cures for major diseases, sudden regime changes in major nations, that sort of thing.

Not sure if this is "allow me to piss on you for caring about things I consider trivial" or "let me show you how much better I am than you because I piss on your trivial interests". I don't suppose it matters. You must be a real joy at parties.
posted by kjs3 at 6:24 PM on March 25 [22 favorites]


It's hated by the early adopters, developers, and evangelists you'd need to make consumer VR a commercial success

If VR is as great is everyone thinks it is, then I don't think it matters who sells the thing. I mean nerds hate Microsoft and everyone bought the xbox anyway.
posted by empath at 6:24 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I will never, ever understand why people who contribute to Kickstarters think they're investing in something.

They're not investing in the sense that they expect to get a financial return, but rather in the sense that they're making a sacrifice to support a creative endeavor they think is cool and worthwhile. Literally selling out to advertisers, rather than pursuing the "by gamers, for gamers" approach they touted to raise the funds, is a bit of a dick move.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:26 PM on March 25 [10 favorites]


Surely - and when I say surely I mean I, a completely uninformed guy speculate -- surely once a few versions have been put out by Oculus or whoever, it won't be that difficult to bodge together a ski mask/crafted/3d-printed thing and a cheapish screen, and use non-Facebook apps? (And/or the Rift just doesn't get restricted/bundled with anything untoward). I'm sure I've seen quite a bit of stuff along those lines already, albeit presumably somewhere behind the curve from the big players at this stage.
posted by Drexen at 6:26 PM on March 25


This is how I felt when Palm Incorporated acquired BeOS.
posted by usonian at 6:26 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


>Saying that the Oculus is doomed because Facebook is not a games company is like saying all those robotics companies are doomed because Google started out as a search company.

Is that what people are saying? I thought they were saying Oculus is doomed because Facebook is an unscrupulous data mining outfit, and their only interest in VR is making shitty virtual chat rooms so they can show you ads and track your eye movements.

Companies tend to do what they do. McDonald's might be buying beef so that it can invent a lightweight, space-age building material made out of beef, and distribute beef bricks to poor nations to make cheap housing a global reality. But probably not, they're probably buying it to make hamburgers, because that's what they do. Facebook might have bought the Oculus Rift so that they can keep their hands off it and let it be what it was going to be without them, but probably not. They're probably going to use it to make some kind of data mining operation disguised as a social media platform that everyone hates, because that's what they do.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:26 PM on March 25 [20 favorites]


Also -- the FB money means they'll be able to hire a bunch more programmers and such to bring developers on board.
posted by empath at 6:27 PM on March 25


Oculus basically had to get bought out, I think. Basically every aspect of VR is patented, and oculus is probably trampling on dozens of them. As soon as there was money being made, they were going to get slapped with millions of dollars in lawsuits. Having facebooks legal department and money will stop them from getting strangled in the crib.

This was the first uplifting comment I've read in this otherwise dismal news. I was glad I had worked down the entire thread to get there ... until I realized, wait, I'm being cheered by the fact that, terrible though the takeover of a scrappy independent hardware company by the most soulless corporation out there may be, at least it protects them from ... the fact that those same vastly wealthy corporations have basically ruined entrepreneurial innovation by turning everything into "intellectual property." And now I'm depressed again.
posted by chortly at 6:28 PM on March 25 [9 favorites]


P.S. I think the Rift looks pretty sweet slash hot?? but what the heck do I know!
posted by Drexen at 6:28 PM on March 25


(And by "by gamers, for gamers", I don't just mean some tribal or ideological thing—I mean that this project was sold to supporters as a business model based on hardware sales and, maybe, licensing fees. Selling it off to an advertising company raises a real possibility that its development will be driven by an entirely different set of priorities, and become a different project than the one people shelled out money to support.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:29 PM on March 25


They're not investing in the sense that they expect to get a financial return, but rather in the sense that they're making a sacrifice to support a creative endeavor they think is cool and worthwhile

Well not let's get too idealistic here. I'd gather a decent amount of people that paid Kickstarter for early access were hoping to get a headstart on designing for it and hoping they find the killer app. But yeah, this "investing" was largely not a financial one.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:36 PM on March 25


Bwahaha, 4chan's /v/ board (tagline: "where were you when gaming died?") is currently autoplaying this song from Evangelion:
I know, I know I've let you down
I've been a fool to myself
I thought that I could live for no one else

But now through all the hurt and pain
It's time for me to respect
The ones you love mean more than anything

So with sadness in my heart
Feel the best thing I could do
Is end it all and leave forever

What's done is done, it feels so bad
What once was happy now is sad
I'll never love again, my world is ending

I wish that I could turn back time
'Cuz now the guilt is all mine
Can't live without the trust from those you love

I know we can't forget the past
You can't forget love and pride
Because of that, it's killing me inside

It all returns to nothing, it all comes tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down
It all returns to nothing, I just keep letting me down, letting me down, letting me down

In my heart of hearts
I know that I could never love again
I've lost everything, everything, everything that matters to me, matters in this world
posted by Rhaomi at 6:42 PM on March 25 [8 favorites]


Ok Rift fans where is the marketplace that Facebook is going to monetize with this purchase. PC gaming is increasingly a niche market. Console gaming is dominated by Sony and Microsoft with Nintendo slowly being edged out. Nintendo might license OR but will Sony and Microsoft? If the big boys don't play where will EA and company go? Is pay 2 win social media games a big market for VR technology?
posted by vuron at 6:42 PM on March 25


They're going to try to make the metaverse. Facebook isn't interested in games, they want you to hang out with friends and do business via their servers.
posted by Eddie Mars at 6:43 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Makes you wonder if this deal would have gone through if either company employed anyone over the age of, oh, lets say, 45?
posted by zedbends at 6:44 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]



I will never, ever understand why people who contribute to Kickstarters think they're investing in something.

They're not investing in the sense that they expect to get a financial return, but rather in the sense that they're making a sacrifice to support a creative endeavor they think is cool and worthwhile.


Yeah, my motivation when contributing to Kickstarters is "I think this is a thing that should exist."
posted by sweetkid at 6:47 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


Carmack wants to build Neuromancer so he got himself the world's biggest datacenter.
posted by gwint at 6:48 PM on March 25 [7 favorites]


Faceface?
posted by putzface_dickman at 6:51 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


After reading Zuck's comment that Oculus already had the best developers for VR on staff, I imagine that during his visit to Oculus HQ he basically talked to them about how Facebook was thinking about making a similar device, and how it'd be a shame if they had to poach all their best techs from Oculus, why not make this a mutually-beneficial move, etc...

Sort of like what Jobs tried to do with DropBox before they had to develop iCloud.
posted by Busithoth at 6:51 PM on March 25


I know haters gonna hate, but why despise people for doing something that brings them such amazement that it's so nakedly on their face?

You're reading lot more derision and scorn into what I wrote than I intended. Probably my fault.

From my perspective, I noticed a common feature of the photos as I scrolled through and found it amusing and fascinating. It's much like how weird/funny it is to see Women Laughing Alone With Salad. People Experiencing Wonder With Funny Goggles On Their Head dot tumblr dot com.

I also find shit like this guy nearly breaking a monitor while trying one out really fascinating but also just really fucking funny for the same reason people falling over is funny as long as no one really gets hurt. There's a lot of videos like that one. Are the people laughing and videotaping their friend's reaction to trying an Oculus assholes too?

To the Glasshole thing: I could've worded it in a less inflammatory way, for sure. I was writing in a hurry and didn't want to take the time to find a more delicate phrasing or to google the correct URL for the tumblr that someone else already provided. But we now live in a world where that stuff starts barfights (which I find completely insane, of course).

We live in a deeply weird scifi future and I'd rather find it hilarious/fascinating than just straight up terrifying. I mean sometimes it's scary too, but I can't do much about that.
posted by sparkletone at 6:51 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what Facebook could do with any product that costs more than a shitty Facebook game microtransaction. Their massive userbase wouldn't be what it is if it weren't for the incredibly attractive $0 entry fee and maybe a few bucks here and there for certain games - it's a weird, weird choice for that company.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:52 PM on March 25


I was saying over on Mefightclub that I feel less pessimistic (which is not to say optimistic, exactly) about this than a lot of folks, mostly because as much as I neither trust nor like Facebook as a company, I don't see a clear straight-line path to them fucking up the core Oculus Rift product between now and its initial commercial release. And I think that commercial release is going to be the big test for this area, the This Does/Doesn't Work thing for a broad consumer gaming audience. After that, if it works but Facebook fucks it up, plenty of other folks will be willing to push the unfucked version and take over the market.

This is not to say I doubt Facebook's ability to surprise me by fucking it up enormously in some unexpected way. I'm just, I dunno. Biding my time. I think the release headset's gonna be neat and doubt it's going to be horrifyingly fucked by the Facebook brand, even if they'll probably also release some pretty blech first-party software/games for it.

Carmack wants to build Neuromancer so he got himself the world's biggest datacenter.

You have to admit, the eventual hackerish subversion of a corporate-driven VR product is a lot more Gibsonian than the (Heinleinian, maybe?) pre-acquisition upstart-DIY-loners-revolutionize-market narrative. (Though you have to ignore the tens of millions of previous VC injections to totally buy into that one anyway.)
posted by cortex at 6:54 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


This technology moving out of the gaming sphere and into others will bring us even closer to the future of Demolition Man (and the weird headset sex that implies). Will Google be the one who invents the three seashells?
posted by sparkletone at 6:57 PM on March 25


BREAKING: Yahoo buys ViewMaster.

You laugh, but Instagram and Oculus VR under the same roof pretty much scream "hipsters making terribly filtered iPhone stereograms within the next six months" to me.
posted by fifthrider at 7:02 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


For those of you who have been following Oculus Rift's development, doesn't $2B seem low?

Not really. They have not delivered a product to market. They've gotten rumors sites abuzz, and they've put out a lot of devkits, but a lot is like 50,000. And just days ago Sony announced a similar device that they'd been working on since before OR even started their kickstarter.

I mean it's definitely a very interesting and exciting product in some ways, but I don't think anybody really knows if there's a big market here or not. And for it to be worth $2B for Facebook, they have to get more than $2B worth of value. Discount by the fact that mergers are fraught with challenges, and $2B seems like a lot of money to me.

A separate question is why are people so upset about this?

That's all about where people expect Facebook to go with this technology. The Oculus kickstarter campaign promised to "take 3d gaming to the next level" and "maximize immersion". They demoed it with DOOM, and then hired John Carmack as their CTO. They were courting an audience of hardcore gamers, and indeed that's a large fraction of who knows about and is excited for OR.

Facebook's influence on gaming is the opposite of that. They have the biggest platform for casual and free to play games. Facebook is where Farmville and Candy® Crush® Saga® live. That's a huge world of gaming, but it's a very different one than the hardcore gamer is looking for.

So I imagine there's some feeling of betrayal. People had high hopes for Oculus, and even gave Oculus money to hope realize their VR gaming dreams. But now it's hard to believe that Facebook is interested in realizing those same visions. The press release specifically talks about non-gaming applications.

Disclaimer: I work in a building that says PlayStation on it. That said I'm obviously speaking for myself and not my employer, and obviously I don't think I'm especially biased. I don't really care that much about 3D gaming personally - adventure games and puzzle games are my cup of tea.
posted by aubilenon at 7:27 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Oh, now you're all rage-filled, but wait until FaceBook's herds of assembly drones bust out their hot glue guns and start attaching unsold FaceBook Phones to all the Dev Kit units with some unbreakable construction adhesive. Bleargh.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:27 PM on March 25


If I were palmer, I'd be considering giving out shares of facebook to all the original kickstarter backers, which might damp down some of the rage, but who knows.
posted by empath at 7:30 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Also, does this mean that we'll all be forced to do a Password Reset on the Second Life accounts we made when Zuck picks up Linden Lab? Hey, it's even got its own currency -- talk about captive value!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:31 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Hrmm, watching the /vidya/ threads kinda makes me happy for this in some small part because if anyone deserves each other it's the totally toxic vidya fans and zuckerberg. Plus all the people that wanted OR based waifu games are more than a little creepy and Facebook shutting that down might be advantageous to VR being accepted in the mainstream.
posted by vuron at 7:40 PM on March 25


They're not saying it's doomed, they're worried its mission is going to change, like how the mission changed for those robotics companies when Google bought them.

Can you give me some examples of this? I don't buy it.
posted by bpm140 at 7:40 PM on March 25


There's going to be a lot of wordswordswords written about this, but as a quick first take, this one at boingboing sounds about right to me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:48 PM on March 25 [6 favorites]


On a different scale, but it reminds me a bit of the feelings of Apple users after Halo had its first public demo at MacWorld in 1999...and then Microsoft bought Bungie and history changed.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:52 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


zuckerberg:

do you even rift, bro.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:56 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


The disaster of Windows 8 totally refutes your thesis.

To be fair, my thesis predates windows 8 because it's circa Me Caring About What Happened To MySpace, which is contemporaneous with windows 7 (and me working there, of course)

Still, while I haven't used windows 8 because I'm not longer a windows developer, as I understand it one of the big criticisms is that it's very easy to do something and be unceremoniously booted out of metro and into the legacy UI, which I don't think is counter to my idea.

And, of course, my theory depends on both companies being willing to make at-the-moment-unpopular choices AND those choices turning out to have been good, or at least some combination of popular, accepted, and well executed ideas. Just saying "we will do what we think is best" is necessary, but not sufficient, for success.
posted by flaterik at 7:58 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


But damn if they aren't on the edge of being something amazing.

I'm still not sure what amazing thing it is that 3D printers are on the edge of becoming. I know a lot of people who play with them, and they make a lot of random little plastic tchotchkes, but short of the feeling of pride that comes from having made the random plastic tchotchke yourself I don't see why you would want to own one. Plastic just isn't a nice material! If it's worth owning at all, it's worth owning in wood, metal, glass, or ceramic, and nobody's even talking about consumer-level 3D printers that work in those materials.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:04 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


There are 3d printers that work in metal and (I think) ceramic.

But in general for metal, wood, and even glass you'd prefer a subtractive method, like a CNC machine, which are also coming way down in price and going up in usefulness (I personally have 3)
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:11 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


I don't see a clear straight-line path to them fucking up the core Oculus Rift product between now and its initial commercial release.

Oh, that's simple: a closed, Facebook-run ecosystem. Only approved apps from the Facebook app store are allowed to run on the Rift.
posted by Pyry at 8:19 PM on March 25


Other than a small number of people that probably want 3d printers to avoid ever having to make balsa wood architectural models ever again and people that want mockups without having to hire an expensive tool and die person I'd say most of the people that I know that are waiting on 3d printing to become economically viable are the wargaming enthuisasts who want to shatter the stranglehold Games Workshop has on the hobby and the extreme prices they charge.
posted by vuron at 8:20 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Only approved apps from the Facebook app store are allowed to run on the Rift.

I think you're confused. Apple didn't buy Oculus.
posted by demiurge at 8:24 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]




This really ought to be a shark jump moment for kickstarter. What kind of equity should those initial $10k investors have had in this $2 billion buyout? It's nearly 1000x return on the $2.5 million kickstarter. All the rich people who just got a lot of richer off the backs of their small fry enthusiasts dollars should be ashamed, but somehow I doubt they are.
posted by crayz at 8:34 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


Kinda disappointed by the level of discussion here.

When I think "Very Big Deal" I think climate change, economic globalization, cures for major diseases, sudden regime changes in major nations, that sort of thing. Not the purchase of a promising gaming company by a large non-gaming tech company.

I'm not a gamer - I'm an architect - and I'm super excited for the Rift. VR isn't a big deal because OMG GAMES, this is a big deal because I think it's a technology that will transform the world, the same way that the smartphone has changed the world, or the same way that the internet changes the world.

Have you tried one on? The Rift is a sensory device that makes you feel like you're fully inside another space, offering an immediate intuitive understanding about a three-dimensional space. No other device can do this (3d glasses are a joke). No representational technique can do this. Think about that, for a second.

Imagine: Using VR to preview architectural spaces, allowing architects to design better spaces. Or: A medical school using VR to allow medical students to step inside the space of an organ and to understand the process of surgery three-dimensionally. Or experiencing documentaries shot in first-person, so you can really live someone else's experience of racism or sexism, or even swap genders with someone else. More than a century ago documentary photography was used to expose bad conditions for the purposes of social reform - imagine what documentary VR will do if people get to more vividly live the conditions some people live in? Etc.

So in this light, Facebook buying Oculus is shitty, yes.
posted by suedehead at 8:35 PM on March 25 [27 favorites]


.
posted by naju at 8:44 PM on March 25


So in this light, Facebook buying Oculus is shitty, yes.

Well, only if you assume that those possibilities will no longer come to fruition, thanks to Facebook's involvement. I'm no great fan of FB, but it's far from clear to me that there is a justifiable reason to think that this purchase will automatically stunt the development potential of the Rift (or of similar technologies - it's not like the concept of "VR" is patented or patentable).
posted by modernnomad at 8:55 PM on March 25


What kind of equity should those initial $10k investors have had in this $2 billion buyout?

The same equity I have in the box office gross for Veronica Mars, i.e. none and I knew that when I made the donation. Has anybody, ever, actually thought they were getting a share of stock in the company when they made a kickstarter pledge?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:59 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


it's not like the concept of "VR" is patented or patentable

Uh, are you sure about that?
posted by suedehead at 9:13 PM on March 25


I'm surprised nobody here mentioned that this is most likely a direct result of Oculus taking $81M (total) venture capital. When you (as a company founder) do this, you cede control to a group of people whose goal is different from your own (assuming the founders' goal was something like "do something amazing."). The goal of venture capitalists is the "liquidation event," which this Facebook acquisition definitely was. If Andreesen got anything like 40-50% of the company for his $75M, he just made his yearly bonus with this acquisition.

I was involved in a VC-funded company, back during the first dot-com bust...and I remember being torn by the idea that my cool stuff could end up in the hands of a company that didn't want to maximize its impact, but rather wanted to cash out.

I wouldn't be surprised if similar gnashing happened here, though I wouldn't ascribe anything to John Carmack -- he's always been a surprising guy. Has he chimed in on how he sees the future, post acquisition?
posted by dylanjames at 9:14 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Uh, are you sure about that?

Yes, I'm sure about that. Both of those links are attempts to patent particular technologies designed to create a VR experience, not patenting the very concept of VR itself.
posted by modernnomad at 9:16 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]




Yes, I'm sure about that. Both of those links are attempts to patent particular technologies designed to create a VR experience, not patenting the very concept of VR itself.

Well, here's a patent for VR being used for medical use -- not the technology, mind you, but just the concept. I'm sure there are a whole swatch of similar patents out there - VR for marketing purposes, etc.

Plus - patenting technology used for a VR experience is like patenting the technology of the TV used for a movie-viewing experience -- the technology is so integral to the product. It's like if someone patented touchscreens for smartphones.... Oh, wait.
posted by suedehead at 9:38 PM on March 25


I'll answer my own question:

Has he chimed in on how he sees the future, post acquisition?

Yes he has.

(saving the click to a tweet: "For the record, I am coding right now, just like I was last week.I expect the FB deal will avoid several embarrassing scaling crisis for VR.")

I still respect him, and will follow developments. ("respect but verify?")
posted by dylanjames at 9:40 PM on March 25




Relatively balanced pro and con at PCGamer. Can't seem to get that lingering dead goat ass taste out of my mouth, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:35 PM on March 25


I don't think people thought they were getting equity, but I think this is going to have some ramifications for Kickstarter stuff in the future. Because Kickstarter is inherently sort of telling people, "We need your help to make this happen," and there's always been a heavy implication there of "this independent funding will allow us to make cool things without selling out to The Man". There's always a risk, of course, that the thing you funded won't happen, but that's a different sort of risk to finding out that the thing you funded is now profiting a company that you might have previously decided not to patronize for ethical reasons. People aren't necessarily expecting to be treated like investors, but they're expecting the company to remember the spirit in which the funding was provided. Which... this doesn't.
posted by Sequence at 12:55 AM on March 26 [11 favorites]


I am still pretty stoked on Oculus Rift if games like Alone are still going to be made for it. The concept and execution of that are really, really neat to me and I hope we see more of it.
posted by gucci mane at 12:57 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Oculus VR heads talk Facebook, cheaper retail kits, better hardware and piles of cash

Yeah, well, more power to them. Even if this turns out to be the best thing ever that happened to Occulus Rift, Facebook is still on my rather short list of companies that I refuse to support with my money (or views, clicks, likes, whatever). Unfortunately for me, Sony is also on that list.
posted by hat_eater at 12:58 AM on March 26


What kind of equity should those initial $10k investors have had in this $2 billion buyout?

Kickstarter is not an investment platform - it's a donation platform. Those initial $10k investors got exactly what was promised to them in the original kickstarter - the rewards for that level of donation.

There is a movement to enable actual investment through crowdsourced platforms like kickstarter, which could be described as Equity crowdfunding. Like most of the Web 3.0 stuff, it relies on "disrupting" the status quo by trying to avoid regulations - specifically those around soliciting investments from the general public without registering with the SEC. There is a reason that promising people fabulous riches in exchange for their cash is a tightly regulated industry.

Kickstarter is not an investment platform. You do not get any of the profits from the venture you fund. That would be super illegal. It's a way to ask for donations for your art project, or to prove demand for your product idea. Some percentage of the pledges are expected to actually fall through, since credit cards don't actually get charged until the campaign ends successfully.
posted by heathkit at 1:07 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


- imagine what documentary VR will do if people get to more vividly live the conditions some people live in? Etc.

Suedehead, reading what you wrote, I kind of have mixed feelings about using VR to create more vivid documentaries or learning experiences. On one hand, I can see how it can lead people to empathize and "walk in another's shoes". But, on the other hand, I'm a little uncomfortable with VR using my sensory experiences to try to convince me that something is real or even true.

Seeing that guy stumble around while wearing Oculus Rift, thinking he's on a rollercoaster even when he's standing in a room, reminds me of that apocryphal story about people watching a movie for the first time and seeing a train approaching and then being so scared they run to the back of the theater. Right now, it's a tech demo, not a very sophisticated use of the technology. But, I can see it becoming more sophisticated, and the use of the medium's ability to create vivid experiences to try to bend, manipulate, or even synthesize the truth.

And I realize the technology isn't even really out yet, and the same thing has happened before with film, radio, TV, games, and the rest. So, I'm kind of in between thinking things are gonna stay kinda the same or thinking there's going to be a huge disruptive change that's going to happen.
posted by FJT at 1:43 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Imagine the PR coup if they'd announced that little turd had come sniffing around and they'd thrown the 2 billion in his face.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:10 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I'm still not sure what amazing thing it is that 3D printers are on the edge of becoming.

Woman has entire skull replace with a plastic 3-d printed version.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:11 AM on March 26 [5 favorites]



Thas right, Zuckerberg! Ride that magical cash pony all over God's creation! Your magical website shall never be abandoned, never! Thou shalt endure forever and ever and ever, just like all the other really smart Internet guys with wheelbarrows full of money!


It's not like that - I don't Zuckerberg is particularly bright, having ripped off Facebook wholesale, but I think he's smart enough to know he has jack shit long-term and his days are numbered unless he can pull off this holding-company stuff.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:39 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


I find that it helps my blood pressure to mentally substitute all instances of the word Zuckerberg with Zoidberg.
posted by goHermGO at 4:43 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


So OR VR is Facebook official now, eh?
posted by oceanjesse at 5:18 AM on March 26


So I keep seeing comments here and there about how 'niche' or in decline PC gaming is now and I'm wondering how people came to that conclusion. Especially with the fumbling, bumbling roll out of the next gen consoles. And the equally awful (or hilarious depending on your views of consoles) quantity of launch-till-now games for said consoles.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:55 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Someone built a website and made lots of money, now they are usng their invest in new technology. What is the problem here? Do these objections boil down to anything other than juvinile accusations that Mark Zuckerberg is a poopyhead?
posted by humanfont at 6:01 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


I believe that some of the accusations are based on people feeling cheated by the Kickstarter drive, which they now regret sponsoring. Palmer presented an attitude when asking for money that now appears to have changed.

Some of it is probably based on the lack of trust people have with Facebook to a) act with any sort of integrity, or b) actually deliver decent hardware, the latter of which is my concern.

What Palmer has done is perfectly legal, but but that doesn't mean that people are not right to feel betrayed.

So yeah, I'm going to be looking very closely at Sony's offering. Having been burned before, I don't like Sony, generally, but if the alternative is Facebook then I'll give them a lot of chances to get it right.
posted by YAMWAK at 6:19 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Someone built a website and made lots of money, now they are usng their invest in new technology. What is the problem here? Do these objections boil down to anything other than juvinile accusations that Mark Zuckerberg is a poopyhead?

The way Facebook makes its money creeps a lot of people out. The idea of merging that with VR creeps them out even harder.
posted by Diablevert at 6:22 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


By the way, it's $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of FB stock. So adjust the $2bn (and all other large acquisition numbers) accordingly.
posted by thefool at 6:23 AM on March 26


So I keep seeing comments here and there about how 'niche' or in decline PC gaming is now and I'm wondering how people came to that conclusion.

Because PC's capable of running the latest games are expensive. You could get away with a large market for them, as people would buy PC's for purposes in addition to playing games - but those non-game purposes are being taken over by tablets and smartphones. More, those who want to keep a "real PC" around are increasingly buying cheap notebooks, which run PC games like crap.

Consoles are $300-400, a decent gamer rig is multiples of that. Steamboxes start at $500 for something that won't give a console much to worry about, and ascend into the $1500 and up range really, really quick.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:25 AM on March 26


Facebook stewardship of Oculus has chased Minecraft away.

And now it's only worth $1B.
posted by Foosnark at 6:33 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


So yeah, I'm going to be looking very closely at Sony's offering. Having been burned before, I don't like Sony, generally, but if the alternative is Facebook then I'll give them a lot of chances to get it right.

If Sony's smart, they'll jump on the opportunity to announce that their headset will be PC-compatible and not just for the PS4. Even if it means retooling.
posted by rifflesby at 6:34 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


You can build a gaming rig PC for around 600 dollars. I spent about that on a PC I built 3 years ago and it has ZERO issue playing brand new PC games.
posted by Twain Device at 6:44 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


(That being said, I play both PC games and consoles, and I don't see either going anywhere anytime soon. However, the fanboys of either side of that arguement are (by a large margin) the most fighty groups I have ever seen.)
posted by Twain Device at 6:47 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Someone built a website and made lots of money, now they are usng their invest in new technology. What is the problem here? Do these objections boil down to anything other than juvinile accusations that Mark Zuckerberg is a poopyhead?

I didn't know what Oculus was before this FPP, but the comments here and concerns aired make it pretty clear, that is, if you actually read the comments here.

Basically, Oculus Rift is a great technology that could really revolutionize games, and now that Zuckerberg has it, it will mostly be used to revolutionize advertising and data collection. These are legitimate objections.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:05 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Someone built a website and made lots of money, now they are usng their invest in new technology. What is the problem here?

Sony -- another huge corporate entity -- recently announced their own upcoming VR system, people were generally happy, so I don't believe it's a question of being angry that Facebook in investing in VR, exactly. It's that they're investing in VR by purchasing an entire other independent company wholesale, after that company had run a crowd-funding campaign to get their product off the ground. Had Facebook dumped even a fraction of the Oculus purchase price into developing an in-house VR system -- say, $500 million -- I don't believe you'd be seeing as much, if any, pushback.

The people who have been enthused about the Rift would probably not be enthused about a wholly-new Facebook VR system, so I can understand why Facebook would want to do this (aside from being able to pay money to circumvent two-plus years of development), but 'not enthused' isn't the same as 'angry.'
posted by cjelli at 7:13 AM on March 26


Consoles are $300-400, a decent gamer rig is multiples of that. Steamboxes start at $500 for something that won't give a console much to worry about, and ascend into the $1500 and up range really, really quick.

A decent gamer rig that can stream is upwards of $1000. $600 gets you the latest AMD processor, a GTX770, 8+gb of ram, and maybe a SSD if you get super lucky on combo deals. I spent $700 on a newegg pre-build (so more expensive), it runs PlanetSide 2 on ultra at 60fps and BlopsII/BF4 on high at 35fps+. The 'latest and greatest' of PC hardware is SCAMMY. Nothing requires that much hardware for a thoroughly enjoyable experience yet.

To add on what I forgot earlier: given LoL, DOTA2, CS:GO, TF2, SC2, WoT, and the innumerable PC only indies that are hugely popular... I'm not buying that PC gaming is being bundled off into a niche. Especially with the lack of games on next gen consoles and the (albeit from a PC fans eyes) hilarious 'scandals' in next gen consoles graphics yields.

A PC friendly piece of VR wear is going to get tons of support from the PC only market.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:33 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


It feels like a lot of people are angry at Mark Zuckerberg for buying out this company, and less about this company selling out to Facebook.

It's not impossible: I remember reading an inspiring story about a young independent software developer who was offered a billion dollars for his tech company, and turned it down. His name was Mark Zuckerberg.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:56 AM on March 26


It feels like a lot of people are angry at Mark Zuckerberg for buying out this company, and less about this company selling out to Facebook.

That's not the read I get at all.
posted by Mooski at 8:14 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Zuckerberg as an individual was a major investor in Oculus prior to the Facebook acquisition. He has been playing a role in their strategy for a long time. The fears expressed in this thread are hypothetical and mostly seem based on gaming experience created by Zynga; which is just a company that uses Facebook as part of its game distribution model.

I think Facebook sees games as a key part of the development of individual social graphs. I think they will move next to acquire Steam or Xbox (Microsoft is said to want to sell this division) or even build their own console. I see this more as a Google/Andriod move. Facebook wants to help deliver the next generation of gaming services so that they don't lose their position as ultimate social graph manager.
posted by humanfont at 8:23 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I think Facebook sees games as a key part of the development of individual social graphs. I think they will move next to acquire Steam or Xbox (Microsoft is said to want to sell this division) or even build their own console. I see this more as a Google/Andriod move. Facebook wants to help deliver the next generation of gaming services so that they don't lose their position as ultimate social graph manager.

In other words, Mark Zuckerberg is, indeed, a poopyhead.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:27 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


The fears expressed in this thread are hypothetical...I think Facebook sees games as a key part of the development of individual social graphs.

That is exactly one of the hypothetical fears, yes: that Facebook will leverage the Rift and turn it into a data-gathering tool rather than an experience-enjoying one.
posted by cjelli at 8:33 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


You can play PC games on a budget rig certainly but let's be honest if you are tooling up for a UHD rig for the highest res FPS games (Battlefield 4 or Crysis 3 I'm looking at you) you are probably paying in excess of $2k USD. That's simply put a very niche market.

That's the high end PC marketspace which is increasingly rarified because let's be honest more and more EA and the other publishing houses are aiming for the FPS/Sports game console based bro-gamer market because that is high value high mark-up.

Is OR directed at the PC gamer market with Facebook at the helm or will they try to bring this down to a Console market like the Morpheus?
posted by vuron at 9:02 AM on March 26


I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.

Boy the Kickstarter backlash is real, lots of grumbling about Oculus on Twitter. We've argued this a few times on Metafilter and every single time people talk about how funding a Kickstarter project is like "investing" in a company. Kickstarter is not an investment platform, despite the feel-good language of the projects and Kickstarter itself.

The folks who backed the Oculus Rift Kickstarter pre-purchased goods and services. $25 for a t-shirt, $300 for a dev kit, $5000 to be Oculus Queen for a Day. AFAIK the company delivered on all those pre-purchase contracts. They fulfilled their legal obligation to their backers. A success! Kickstarter backers who felt entitled to more are naïve.

The JOBS Act in 2012 created a legal structure where ordinary individuals can gamble invest their money in equity in small companies. From what I've read the SEC is still figuring out how to implement the crowdfunding investment rules, which probably explains why we haven't seen a burst of crowdfunding investment companies yet. Both MicroVentures and CircleUp seems to be working under pre-JOBS rules, in that investors have to be "accredited" (ie: have $1M in liquid assets or $200k in annual income.)
posted by Nelson at 9:15 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


If Facebook bought Steam I honestly think we may see the very first act of Gamer Terrorism.
posted by fullerine at 9:26 AM on March 26


Is there still going to be a Dwarf Fortress port for Oculus Rift? Is is also true that Facebook just bought CueCat for $2.00?
posted by lagomorphius at 9:30 AM on March 26


vuron, I agree that if you want max res on some games, you will have to shell out very serious cash. It isn't a big section of the market - you can play both games on boxes that will set you back $600. If you're playing multiplayer you'll often play at highly reduced resolutions anyway, to squeeze the most you can out of your framerate.

My concern isn't them aiming for the console-level market. My concern is that they'll aim at the 'ooh-3d looks cool, let's use it for business conferences and chat-rooms' market and drop the specs through the floor.

Nelson, no-one is suggesting that what Palmer has done is illegal. I don't think anyone was anticipating anything from giving money other than having a shiny thing on the market in a couple of years time. That thing is now looking a lot less shiny.

Imagine someone did a kickstarter for a coffee shop, citing their independance and unique vision to bring something new to their neighbourhood. They get their cash, buy an expensive expresso machine and then sell out to Starbucks. Not a perfect analogy, but I'm sure you can understand people's irritation.
posted by YAMWAK at 9:37 AM on March 26


Actually, ignore that cafe example. The more I think about it, the weaker it is. Still, I believe that some of the upset caused by this move is generated by a feeling of betrayal, and some of that feeling may be justified.
posted by YAMWAK at 9:40 AM on March 26


I guess the one thing that Facebook brings to the table is such a large captive audience that they stand a shot of "making 'fetch' happen" with VR by making their huge userbase aware of the tech. If they had some killer apps - some gaming, but also some of the more transformative immersive experiences VR brings to the table - they really could sell a lot of people on the idea. But again, the hurdle to jump is that their userbase is what it is because Facebook is free to play, so the leap to expensive hardware sales is a big one. Maybe they should aim for getting VR into theaters where the early, costlier tech can pay for itself with ticket prices, if they could get an entertainment subsidiary going and attract some big names to play with making immersive VR movies. I could see VR launching into the mainstream as a niche asses-in-seats entertainment product like IMAX.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:48 AM on March 26


You can build a gaming rig PC for around 600 dollars. I spent about that on a PC I built 3 years ago and it has ZERO issue playing brand new PC games.

Including mouse, keyboard, speakers/headphones and monitor? How do they compare to the TV + Soundbar of most televisions?

So, really, you're telling me that there are enough people out there willing to learn how to put a craptastic PC together from components, for a lot more money than a brand new console - and they have the time and inclination to research the components and learn how to assemble them in a system, and have a place to put a PC with monitor and keyboard - and developing and distributing for this platform is a reliable, billion-dollar business going forward?

No. It is not. Tablets and smartphones aren't a fad, I'm sorry to say. You will have home entertainment gaming, mobile gaming, and a little niche for personal computers that's getting smaller by the day. It's not inconceivable the home PC will go the way of the Unix workstation.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:56 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


It's not inconceivable the home PC will go the way of the Unix workstation.

Everything will go the way of the Unix workstation, eventually. That said, I'm pretty certain that PC gaming will exist for at least the next decade, if for no other reason than the subset of us who feel weird with anything but WASD movement won't die completely out before then.
posted by Mooski at 10:00 AM on March 26


If you want telepresence, a bank of cameras in a sphere might work, to remove latency for head movement. However, that would dramatically increase the bandwidth required. You'd be pushing a lot of pixels to the client that would just be discarded.

Consider a sporting event at an arena: most of the time, you will be looking entirely at the sporting event, not so much behind you. So you don't give as much priority to pushing those bits behind the seat, but instead prioritize the event's action. Also consider that broadcast streaming means that many thousands of people can watch streaming video from any angle, from one camera signal.

To the extent that VR doesn't get benefit from high definition-quality video (the displays are too close to the eyeballs to get any benefit from that level of resolution) it seems plausible that, if some standard consumer VR gear were to succeed in the marketplace, there could quickly develop pay-per-view telepresence channels, even over current networking that already streams HD content.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:18 AM on March 26


Early Supporters of Oculus VR Denounce Facebook Buyout: NYT blog summarizes the Kickstarter backlash. "The armchair philanthropists who open their wallets to give $10 or $100 to a nascent idea and company have high expectations for those projects and where they end up. That is difficult for project creators to anticipate, and hard for those who come along later to grasp." (An unusual application of the word "philanthropist".)
posted by Nelson at 10:32 AM on March 26


Celsius1414: "In other words, Mark Zuckerberg is, indeed, a poopyhead."

You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.

posted by Chrysostom at 10:49 AM on March 26


The PC gaming market is not as big as consoles. Still a lot bigger than you seem to think, Slap*Happy. Yeah, PC gaming will die one day, but it's pretty chunky today. See here for the first link I found when searching for PC gaming market size - estimated 25 billion dollars in 2014 isn't small change in the gaming market, even if it isn't top dog, and isn't going to disappear in a puff of smoke.

Steam, DotA and LoL, Battlefield 4 and friends, WoW and all the other MMOs, hell - facebook casual games as well - there is a lot of gaming activity on the PC and you really really can enjoy it for an initial investment of $600. It's not hard to build your own PC, particularly if you can find a friend who's done it before. It won't be craptastic. The resolution will be about 1600x1024, which is fine for most things. There won't be a mass-release game on the market that you won't be able to play at a reasonable frame rate.

Once you've bought your gear, you can keep your rig fully up to date for a lot less than that. Don't forget that the better off will buy top of the range gear and often sell old stuff on e-bay. It'll be a year or two old and a lot cheaper and still very powerful.
posted by YAMWAK at 10:52 AM on March 26


It's not inconceivable the home PC will go the way of the Unix workstation.

That would be sad. But it would also be... job security! So much of technology-production (as opposed to consumption) is inaccessible from or significantly retarded by those other devices. The fewer kids growing up in households that are incidentally equipped for developing interest and skill in tech/production/manufacturing hobbies, the more of that sweet sweet pie is left for the rest of... wait, no, unnecessarily stunted kids is also a sad outcome. :-(
posted by anonymisc at 10:52 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


People who don't understand the Kickstarter backlash may simply not understand the Kickstarter culture, why Kickstarter came about, why Kickstarter became successful, and why people invest in small projects on the site. To understand the backlash requires understanding something about those ideas and ideals.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:56 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


It's not inconceivable the home PC will go the way of the Unix workstation.

/gives nearby Mac OS X devices a pat

On the topic, it has been argued that Valve and the Steam Machines it announced in January at CES are more about "protecting the PC, not beating consoles" -- "Valve plays the long game again"
The key to understanding Steam Machines, SteamOS and the Steam Controller is hidden in an unremarkable phrase Gabe Newell tends to use whenever he talks about them. I wasn't in Las Vegas at CES, but I read a couple of live blogs that reported him saying it again: Valve's goal with these things is to protect the openness of the PC as a gaming platform. Over the years, Valve has gone from simply evangelising the PC platform - it once flew journalists in from around the world pretty much just to tell them it was great - to actively protecting it, and what we're seeing now is just the beginning of that push.

[...]

One argument I see here and there is that Steam now has a chicken-and-egg problem, but I think this concern is misplaced. How do you get people to make games for SteamOS when no one's bought a Steam Machine? How do you get people to buy Steam Machines when the SteamOS catalogue is so small?

The answer is that Valve is thinking in decades, not console generations. 10 years ago, Steam had one game: Half-Life 2. Today it's the only platform that matters. SteamOS has 300 games, including Valve's own, and they will still work in 10 years' time when PS4 and Xbox One have been consigned to the attic. Like the growth of Steam itself from zero to 65 million accounts, it will be a gradual process.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:08 AM on March 26


Sorry Slap*Happy I wish my two comments would have been in one so it wouldn't lead to any confusion(but I type stream of consciousness basically) .

I don't think the tablet gaming is a fad. I think there is more than enough landscape and variety in consumers to to keep both PC gaming, console gaming, and tablet/phone gaming going for quite some time. I don't think we can only have X type of gamers or Y type of gamers.

The only thing not included in my rig was Monitor and speakers because I already had a nice ones. And if you think about it, those are not included in console prices either. (minor caveat, I don't care for fancy keyboards, so my keyboard was under 50 bucks, I did shell out for a nicer mouse)

However, I know that the PC market isn't overtaking the console market. I just also don't think the gaming PC market is going to disappear either.

*insert Different Strokes theme here*
posted by Twain Device at 11:11 AM on March 26


For those who are not interested in gaming, yes, Oculus was a Very Big Deal.

I'd just like to thank you for emphasizing the last part for those of us who have no idea what the fuck this is all about.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:18 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


So much of technology-production (as opposed to consumption) is inaccessible from or significantly retarded by those other devices.

For now. Every year, more and more software is released that brings professional-grade content creation tools to mobile interfaces. The clear utility of the platform means no-one has even bothered to ask what the "killer app" is, but the killer apps are coming.

Also, I hope the ubiquity of touch-interface devices is the kick in the pants language designers need to move away from direct ASCII manipulation. Line noise and white space as syntactic sugar is lame and does more harm than good - we should not be trying to design 21st century systems using idioms from a 19th century typewriter.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:31 AM on March 26


I think I understand the Kickstarter culture and the backlash reasonably well. I think it's just going to end in tears for a lot of people, like it's doing here in Oculus Rift. People who buy into projects are buying into the dream of the project, wanting to see something succeed. They're idealists. Then sometimes they feel angry when the project doesn't meet their hopes. Its worst when a project doesn't actually complete or deliver. But even when something like Oculus Rift is a huge fucking business success (I mean $2B? wow!) the people who backed it are unhappy. That's not healthy for Kickstarter's long term success as a business.
posted by Nelson at 11:32 AM on March 26


Also, does this mean that we'll all be forced to do a Password Reset on the Second Life accounts we made when Zuck picks up Linden Lab? Hey, it's even got its own currency -- talk about captive value!

There is some interest in virtual worlds out there (Second Life competitor Cloud Party was just snapped up by Yahoo!), but Facebook would be far smarter to create from scratch than buy out Second Life, with its abysmal PR and decade-old technology. Despite its 50,000+ rabid adherents, SL has passed its peak and is slowly drifting towards irrelevance.
posted by Quiplash at 11:39 AM on March 26


For now. Every year, more and more software is released that brings professional-grade content creation tools to mobile interfaces.

No, the small screen and its clumsy (but portable) interface strikes me as more of a foundational problem than a software problem - better apps are just nibbling around the edges of the elephant in that room. It's tablets being in their current form that slows down the complex two-way interactions, though the Occulus Rift (and technology like it) could bypass problems like that.

derail SAVE! :-)
posted by anonymisc at 11:42 AM on March 26


You can build a gaming rig PC for around 600 dollars. I spent about that on a PC I built 3 years ago and it has ZERO issue playing brand new PC games.

Including mouse, keyboard, speakers/headphones and monitor? How do they compare to the TV + Soundbar of most televisions?

That TV also costs money and you can plug your computer into a TV if you have one. Not to mention that PS+/Xbox Live Gold are not free and console games tend to be pricier. It's a bit of a moot point considering many people pay $400-1000 for smartphones (and follow short upgrade cycles). For what it's worth, my MOR 3.5-year-old laptop has failed to play exactly 2 games and has given me trouble with 2 more.

As for OR, their acquisition doesn't fill me with hope.
posted by ersatz at 11:51 AM on March 26


I've been doing development for things that use the Rift, so I guess maybe I'll chime in here.

From Zuckerberg's post:
Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles in your home.

Watching a game is the only one of these three examples that doesn't sound like complete nonsense to me. NFL has been shooting in 60fps HD, I could see them either shooting stereoscopically or setting up one of those balls of cameras (like they use for the Wii U panorama view bus tours) in a choice seat. I suppose if they can generate 3D geometry on the fly, they could enable both stereoscopic vision and allow the viewer to control their own viewing angle. From an adoption standpoint, though, I'm not sure how many people will go for this. If I invite the guys over to watch the game, do I now need 5 Rifts? Or is the point that we'll each stay at home with a Rift and drink virtual beers together?

Studying in a classroom? That seems backwards to me. You don't use VR to put the students in a classroom. You use VR to get them out of the classroom, and put them somewhere more interesting. If you're learning about the solar system, you use VR to put students in outer space. Think of this as the Magic School Bus strategy.

Consulting with a doctor face-to-face? If you each strap these goggles on, you're not really face-to-face anymore. You're virtual face to virtual face. Does it really matter to you if you can see the doctor in 3D space when he tells you why you've been having dizzy spells? If I really stretch, I can picture the doctor strapping the goggles on and the patient standing in front of the stereoscopic camera and saying, "Does this look infected to you?" but there's no value in the patient wearing the goggles in this scenario.


But I'm not great at marketing, maybe he needs to go all LETTUCE DETECTED with this because the actual good uses for this take too long to explain.


I've never used the Facebook API but I've heard bad things, mostly in terms of they keep changing things that break your old stuff. Hopefully the fact that Oculus Rift has an actual hardware device will slow down the frequency with which they can change things.
posted by RobotHero at 12:01 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Live-streamed VR concerts would be a blast, set up a few camera balls in the audience and also have the band members each wear two cameras streaming their stereoscopic POV. Imagine streaming a Flaming Lips show like that.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:28 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I see a couple people here talking about movies, documentaries, and sports broadcasts. But I think those things are a pretty bad fit for VR. Just having two 360 degree feeds (one for each eye) is not going to give you much of a sense of immersion. To really make you feel like you're there, it has to respond to all motions of your head - side to side, slouching, leaning back. We get a ton of depth information from these motions - that's how eyepatch-wearing pirates are able to navigate the three dimensional seas (Somebody needs to make a historical maritime adventure featuring volumetric rendering and call it Forecastles & Voxels). Otherwise it's not that different from a 3d movie.

You might be able to do it with a huge lytro-style lightfield array (HUGE bandwidth & client-side processing requirements), but it'd probably be easier to use a few fixed cameras to convert the entire scene into 3d meshes and textures. It's not obvious to me how much bandwidth that would take, but it doesn't seem like it could be something reasonable if you were clever about it.

Aside from the technical challenges, the existing types of media that would translate into this format are pretty limited. Framing and editing are both very important tools to a filmmaker trying to tell a story. This seems like it would work better for stuff like concerts and sporting events, but the best would be the things that you can't really do now at all. It would make a lot of sense to use these to spectate e-sports. And why film real video of a real light show for a virtual concert, when you could just mocap the band and do it all in software? This is getting more like the things that already go on in Second Life.
posted by aubilenon at 12:31 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


And why film real video of a real light show for a virtual concert, when you could just mocap the band and do it all in software? This is getting more like the things that already go on in Second Life.

With a DIY or low-cost mocap rig, this would be amazing for the multitudes of basement songwriters out there who can't afford to tour.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:36 PM on March 26


Performing for a big crowd is a surprisingly uninteresting experience, visually. I mean you're just looking at a bunch of people looking at you. It's actually a bit uncomfortable. The real magic of the experience is the feeling of control you have over the reaction of the crowd, and unless you're playing the music, you're not going to get that.

So instead of recording an actual concert, imagine playing Guitar Hero in VR.
posted by empath at 1:07 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Faceboculus: Get Faceboculated!
posted by jason_steakums at 1:24 PM on March 26


You might be able to do it with a huge lytro-style lightfield array (HUGE bandwidth & client-side processing requirements), but it'd probably be easier to use a few fixed cameras to convert the entire scene into 3d meshes and textures. It's not obvious to me how much bandwidth that would take, but it doesn't seem like it could be something reasonable if you were clever about it.

The big issue with meshing the world is that it's hard to estimate all the little surface properties (for example, how specular different surfaces are) that create a sense of realism. This is why most of these 3d-reconstructed things you can look at look like they're made out of cardboard-- the structure from motion algorithms only estimate scene geometry and not surface material properties (relatedly, these 3d-reconstruction things tend to only work well for surfaces that are close to Lambertian).
posted by Pyry at 1:57 PM on March 26


I have grave concerns that this will hamper the creative work of our brave porn entrepeneurs.

/minotaurs
posted by Theta States at 2:10 PM on March 26




Kickstarter is not an investment platform - it's a donation platform. Those initial $10k investors got exactly what was promised to them in the original kickstarter - the rewards for that level of donation.

There's a lot of different kinds of Kickstarter campaigns. For some, it's just a donation, and any rewards are clearly just tokens of appreciation. For others you're basically just pre-ordering something, so they can do a large-scale production run.

For Oculus it felt kind of in between. Yeah, you do get the devkits, but OTOH, if they said they were only making the devkits and then dissolving the company, they would not have met their funding goal. The devkits might be great for pure research products, but until Oculus brings the consumer hardware to market, there's no sense in making commercial games for it.

Yeah. People were funding Oculus for what they were promising to do in the future. Heck, a thousand contributors asked for nothing more than "sincere thanks". If you take out $300 of funding for every headset promised, they still raised $200K. Did those donations (beyond the preorders) even matter, or was that money ultimately just a gift to Facebook?

How much that matters depends largely on whether Facebook helps them deliver on their original promises, or sends them off some other dumb direction.
posted by aubilenon at 2:57 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Aside from the technical challenges, the existing types of media that would translate into this format are pretty limited. Framing and editing are both very important tools to a filmmaker trying to tell a story.

Could immersive theatre work? You could run around following the actors and choosing your POV as in the real thing, but you could redo it differently or reset without splurging for another ticket. I'm not sure if running would present a problem (what with all the talk about treadmills) and you'd lose the illusion of a "personal" experience like an actor looking at you or improvising.
posted by ersatz at 4:14 PM on March 26


See also this, for the pure financial perspective.

"Attention Suckers: Please Send Us Your Money"
posted by freakazoid at 4:25 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Wow, that Bloomberg article is some smarmy horseshit. The funders didn't back it because they wanted a payday; they funded it because they wanted the thing to exist. And it worked! The thing exists.

I wonder what the author thinks money is actually, y'know, for.
posted by phooky at 4:36 PM on March 26


Weird, I'd expect someone writing for Bloomberg to understand that the JOBS act legalized/regulated small-investor crowd-investing but -- unless I'm mistaken? -- had no impact on processes like Kickstarter's. It's Kickstarter campaigns' lack of promise of return/equity that keeps them away from the SEC's purview, no?
posted by nobody at 4:39 PM on March 26


I just mentally replace all instances of "Oculus Rift" with "Octopus Raft"

I never knew what it was before either, but now that I do I think that "Octopus Jizz" works even better.

Bonus: now I get to have this stuck in my head, which seems approriate, especially if you picture Zuckerberg as Killface, which you probably should.
posted by hap_hazard at 5:03 PM on March 26


The fewer kids growing up in households that are incidentally equipped for developing interest and skill in tech/production/manufacturing hobbies,

I dunno, this maker shit seems to be going nuts. I went into a Radio Shack because I wanted a Raspberry Pi NAO and there was actually hobbyist stuff in there again like it was 1993 or something. That thing costs $35 + SD card and it pretty much does what your desktop can, just slower and with 512 MB RAM (it is literally the Iphone 3 system-on-a-chip), but it also does more because it comes with a bunch of I/O pins. I'm setting up to use one as a portable dev box, ssh to home or EC2 for cross-compilation. The other day I went out to go do some work with the thing and I seriously just tossed another computer in my bag for a spare - I'm up to sometimes carrying around 8 general purpose computing devices which are open for me to program without even reverse engineering. (2 Pi, 3 Arduino, 2 Android, 1 router, tho DD-WRT might have done the reverse engineering for me on the last.)

I wouldn't even consider non-equity crowdfunding on anything besides the "pre-order to fund my production run" model.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:06 PM on March 26


I think looking at the Kickstarter thing only as an investment or a donation or something people did to want it to exist is kind of feeling individual parts of the elephant, but missing the whole. I think part of the appeal of Kickstarters, like the Oculus Rift one, was it's kind of blurring the lines between consumer/super fan/investor/donor/patron. There's also the feeling of being a part of a select club, since people got matching t-shirts, posters, and got to meet the creators and have a dialogue with them (and each other). And some of the people who donated were also software/game developers, so there's also elements of small-business-community/garage-entrepreneurs helping one another.

Viewed from those perspectives, it is understandable that some of the Kickstarter funders are feeling a little left out or betrayed. Asking for money back is probably the most direct way they voice their disapproval.
posted by FJT at 5:17 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I just mentally replace all instances of "Oculus Rift" with "Octopus Raft"

I prefer "octopus riff". Can you imagine what kind of guitar riff an octopus could play with eight appendages?

The answer is "sweet-ass". A sweet-ass riff. I will give partial credit for "hella sweet".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:30 PM on March 26






TIME: The Virtual Genius of Oculus Rift
How a 19-year-old hacker behind Oculus Rift set out to invent a gaming headset but ended up reviving a dead technology and building a global communications platform, worth $2 billion to Facebook in a surprise deal announced this week
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:35 AM on March 27


Venturebeat: The superfast rise of Oculus VR. "We got the deal done with Facebook in three days. That’s how accelerated it was. We locked ourselves up in the Facebook HQ and did the deal."
posted by Nelson at 9:33 AM on March 27


I see a couple people here talking about movies, documentaries, and sports broadcasts. But I think those things are a pretty bad fit for VR. Just having two 360 degree feeds (one for each eye) is not going to give you much of a sense of immersion.

It's actually pretty good with two 360 degree feeds, actually. Enough to give you a great sense of immersion.

VR, like any medium, isn't going to be just about the technology, once it's good enough. You know when you've been watching a breathtakingly good movie in the theater and are so immersed that you forget where you are, and sometimes who you are? VR is like that too - it's not about how high-def the projection screen is (although that helps), it's about the cinematography, the pacing, the plot, the sound, editing, all of those things.

So documentaries are going to be great in VR, not because the technology is going to super accurately trick you into feeling that you're there, but because we'll have some amazing filmmakers and artists and game designers crafting experiences.

One thing that surprised me about VR and the Rift is how unexpected the enjoyable experiences are. My prediction: VR won't really be used with first person shooters or second-life-esque games. It's just not fun. Too dizzy, too disorienting, too violent. Do you know what one of the most popular games for the Rift is?

Euro Truck Simulator 2012.

It's a game where you drive around the winding mountain roads of Europe in an 18-wheeler. As I understand it, it's okay, maybe even boring on a screen. But with a steering wheel, the Oculus, and a pair of good headphones, you're driving through the Alps, your window rolled down and the wind rushing through your hair, and it's a soothing, calming experience. It's super popular. People talk about coming home to play Eurotruck Simulator and relax while taking a sunset drive through rural Sweden.

Or: Titans in Space, which is like a science fair ride, and has you craning your neck upwards and around you as you zoom by various planets and feel the enormity of their presence. No real interactivity - but super wonderful as an experience. Watching it on a flat screen is very uninteresting, though.

VR won't be about 'tricking people into thinking that an experience is real', and VR won't be about replicating experiences, in the same way that films and documentaries aren't about tricking people into thinking that a TV screen is a box with tiny people inside of it. Yet TVs and laptop screens and movie screens deliver profound, life-altering, thought-provoking experiences all the time. It's only a matter of time before VR media will do the same.
posted by suedehead at 10:15 AM on March 27 [7 favorites]


It's actually pretty good with two 360 degree feeds, actually. Enough to give you a great sense of immersion.

Huh. I was expecting that any head motion other than pitch or yaw would result in uncanny movement of the entire world. But I guess that's true for regular 3d too, and you only really notice it when you deliberately move your head from side to side.

Still, it's hard to record two 360 degree feeds without getting a lot of footage of the backs of cameras.
posted by aubilenon at 10:35 AM on March 27


I want to be able to move around the scene as it unfolds like a ghost avatar in a 3d MMO shooter. This would be technically quite challenging, but I think if you had the right combination of cameras, existing 3d models and motion capture sensors on the individual players one could probably create such a scene. It probably wouldn't be able to photo-realistic for another decade but it would be an amazing thing for reviewing game play.
posted by humanfont at 11:43 AM on March 27


First 3D 360 video, inspired by Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat. FJT, this is same stop that the Lumiere brothers filmed their famed shot that had people running to the back of the theater in fear.
posted by suedehead at 11:54 AM on March 27


The people who got it to work say it works well so I guess I should stop imagining fake problems when people have actually done it.
posted by aubilenon at 1:38 PM on March 27




"Venturebeat: The superfast rise of Oculus VR."

That interview makes a lot of things clearer to me. I don't really think this was "Facebook" buying Oculus, it was the enthusiast Zuckerberg, who was an early venture capital investor in Oculus, and who developed a personal relationship with the founders and became personally, emotionally invested in the success of Oculus, who bought Oculus. Which is to say, not to be acquisitive, but because the huge economic, commercial engine he had available to put in service to Oculus was Facebook:
At one point, we were introduced to Mark Zuckerberg. He was really interested in what we were doing. He was fascinated like other people in the geek community, or gaming community. He was really excited about how we were making this thing work. He wanted me to show him the demo at Facebook. I told him there was a better demo down here in Irvine. He was able to hop on a flight down. He met the team. He saw the latest demos. We talked about the vision. The whole thing was about getting more comfortable with each other and the vision and becoming friends. He and I got to be really good friends, and Palmer met him, too. And then he asked, “How can I help? How can Facebook help you?”

We said, “Uh, I guess we could make a Facebook app.” [Zuckerberg] said, “I don’t think that’s really going to work. It works on a 2D monitor or a mobile phone, and you don’t really have enough users yet. I don’t know if that’s the best thing. Is there any other way I can help you?”

We described our roadmap. Then [Zuckerberg] said, “What if we partner with you? You stay the same. Stay who you are. You expand that vision and focus on other things also. Gaming is core. But how can we help and invest significantly into the platform, the hardware, and bring down the cost of it. We could make it more optimized, do custom silicon, make this even better. What if we also invest in the parts so you can sell the virtual reality platform at cost?” It would use the best components and build a superior technology platform. Then let’s sell it at cost.

I said, “Sure.” [Zuckerberg] said, “I’m pretty sure I can help you do that.” It made so much sense. Stay the same. Stay who you are. And build the next computing platform.
I don't want to exaggerate this — I think the person above who said that Facebook understands that the social media platform that is "Facebook" is not going to retain the preeminence that it currently has, at least in this form. There's clearly a need that social media serves, but I feel certain that the world ten years from now won't be a world where two billion people are regularly logging into "Facebook" and reading status updates of their friends and family. They'll be meeting those needs, and they may well be doing it with Facebook technology, but Facebook won't be the monolithic interface for those activities anymore than Yahoo is the monolithic, universal web portal today. So, yeah, I think that Zuckerberg is hoping that this investment will be good for Facebook, that it may be one of those technologies that will help make Facebook relevant and competitive in the future. But, bottom line, this wouldn't have happened had not Zuckerberg himself just wanted Oculus to succeed.

That doesn't mean that Facebook won't screw it up. Personally, I think the track record for this sort of thing is very much against it working. A lot of us have lived through this, from either or both sides of the acquisition relationship, and basically it's just a lot of floundering, ill-fits, and the rare occasion when it works. Usually, it ends up as a scavenging for a few things worth keeping and discarding the rest, making the thing a net loss and killing whatever the acquired thing was before the acquisition, even if it was a really cool thing that probably would have been successful on its own. If I were betting, that's what I'd bet on in this case.

It's possible, though, that this could just be Oculus with a shitton of money and resources. I doubt it, but it could happen.

"So documentaries are going to be great in VR, not because the technology is going to super accurately trick you into feeling that you're there, but because we'll have some amazing filmmakers and artists and game designers crafting experiences."

Oh.

I just experienced that falling, sinking, breathless sensation.

Somewhere in a past comment, I described the epiphany I had back in, um, 1996 or 1997, about a new narrative form that utilized the first-person, 3D modeling, real-time software that was the current revolution in gaming. The idea was a real-time narrative within which the audience had freedom of movement/attention within the environment. This would require some different narrative conventions, sacrificing some things for this and requiring the author to think in new ways about how to structure the narrative and engage the audience. I stupidly, uselessly, wrote to John Romero about this.

No one has really done this since then, although it's sort of being approached around the edges, with the abandonment of cut-scenes in 3D games for important narrative events to happen in-game, real-time, and with the other kind of 3D games that are exploratory of environments with a slowly, revealed, implicit narrative.

But it occurs to me that maybe really good, inexpensive, and ubiquitous VR is the necessary enabling technology for this. Maybe CGI is or will be adequate, or maybe we also need a way to synthesise seamless 3D viewpoints of actual performances.

It seems to me, though, that if the compelling immersion of VR pretty much makes the user strongly desire the ability to just exist within a interesting narrative, without the emphasis necessarily being on "interactivity" (which everyone has pretty much always assumed, and which I think has been very myopic, given the entire history of storytelling which has done just fine without "interactivity"), then people who use Oculus and find themselves in these environment will just naturally demand that there be stories for them to exist within. And I don't think they'll demand interactivity. Frankly, I think that's hugely overrated, as it makes no sense to allow the audience to determine the narrative because most people in an audience suck at creating narratives. That's what authors are for.

So, anyway — if what you say is true, if the real potential for VR isn't gaming, and isn't even in socializing (though it may well be and I do sort of think that, sooner or later, we'll have a metaverse), then it may well be in a new storytelling medium and it might be what I imagined almost twenty years ago. That falling sensation I felt tells me that it is.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:53 PM on March 27 [6 favorites]


it was the enthusiast Zuckerberg, who was an early venture capital investor in Oculus, and who developed a personal relationship with the founders and became personally, emotionally invested in the success of Oculus, who bought Oculus.

You see how it works is that as the boss of Facebook and the VC for Oculus, Zuckerberg had Facebook buy Oculus ... FROM ZUCKERBERG. Dollar dollar bills.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:16 PM on March 27


The idea was a real-time narrative within which the audience had freedom of movement/attention within the environment. This would require some different narrative conventions, sacrificing some things for this and requiring the author to think in new ways about how to structure the narrative and engage the audience.

it makes no sense to allow the audience to determine the narrative because most people in an audience suck at creating narratives. That's what authors are for.


Ivan Fyodorovich, yes, yes! I wholeheartedly agree.

And I can't believe I didn't talk about an amazing work that is kind of in line with what you're talking about - a play for the Oculus Rift, called The Entertainment, by Lem Doolittle. It's not really reviewed or talked about on the internet much, which boggles me, because it's absolutely amazing.

Essentially, you're at a high school production of a Eugene O'Neill / Chekhov / Tennessee Williams-esque play. (Long silences, anguished sad characters with desperate hopeless dreams of escaping to the Big City, etc.) You're an actor sitting at a table, and you play the 'barfly', which means that you just sit in a corner without dialogue. You're more of a spectator, actually, toeing the line between audience and actor, which is a perfect place to put the VR-viewer, as you yourself note.

Where you look changes what you experience, so you can look at the other actors and watch the play unfold; you can look at the director and see some backstory about the play; you can crane your neck backwards and stare at the audience, and read about all of the parents who have come to see their kid act. People aren't 3d-modeled, but rather a kind of flat cel-shaded animation-like 2d, which is actually much more convincing and immersive. Looking around changes the sound and ambience of the play, so when you're staring at the stage manager, the lights brighten and the suspension of disbelief is broken; if you focus towards the actors again, the lights dim, the stage disappears, and you're transported back into small-town Kentucky. At some moments, people move around, and depending on where you're looking, they appear as dark blurs or vivid figures.

It works much much better than I can describe - not stilted or forced at all, but smooth, seamless, natural. It's maybe about 30 minutes long, absolutely amazing. I spent half an hour just gazing around, looking, my own suspension of disbelief in full throttle, as I sat content in a hushed theater and played my part. It gets the kind of melancholy note emblematic of those plays down so well -- the tone of the play itself and the tone of the small amateurish high school theater that you're 'acting' in somehow jive together really well.

I'm kind of giddy thinking about it, actually.
posted by suedehead at 7:15 PM on March 27 [8 favorites]


And I don't think they'll demand interactivity. Frankly, I think that's hugely overrated, as it makes no sense to allow the audience to determine the narrative because most people in an audience suck at creating narratives.

This would be a valid statement maybe 10 years ago, but look at all the narrative creation around open worlds like minecraft and day z.
posted by empath at 7:20 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


I hope you're right, Ivan, I truly do. Like you, I am skeptical and gunshy, but I hope so, because I've had the same dreams.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:22 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


And today Michael Abrash has left Valve Software to work with John Carmack again at Oculus. He's summarazied his work on VR over the past few decades in a blog post entitled The Path to the Metaverse.
posted by Uncle Ira at 12:30 PM on March 28


On the one hand, I see where the disgruntled Kickstarterers are coming from - when you back a project on Kickstarter you get two things back - the reward you're offered, and the existence of the product you're backing. To bring up Veronica Mars again, I didn't pay $35 to Rob Thomas just so I could get a crappy T-shirt and a digital copy of a movie I could have pirated anyway; my main reward was that the movie was made at all.

Facebook taking over Oculus probably feels a lot like if Rob Thomas had wrapped up the Kickstarter, got the old cast together, and then sold the project to Michael Bay. The thing that's coming into existence -- which is supposed to be the reward I paid for -- is not the thing I was promised.

On the other hand, the acquisition means that when it turns out VR is still a money loser, it's Facebook, not Palmer Luckey and his guys, who will be holding the bag. They seem like nice guys with good ideas, so that's probably for the best.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:49 PM on March 28 [3 favorites]


VR won't be about 'tricking people into thinking that an experience is real', and VR won't be about replicating experiences, in the same way that films and documentaries aren't about tricking people into thinking that a TV screen is a box with tiny people inside of it.

When you talk about your experiences with the Oculus Rift, the emphasis is on the feel, the vividness, and the immersion. Thinking about this and also the stumbling Rift users on Youtube a bit more, it's not that the experience is "real" in the sense that it's indiscernible from reality, but is it "real" in the sense that it's believable enough? Kind of like how there's enough space and movement to fool the lower brain into thinking that you are on a rollercoaster even though the higher brain knows better, for example?

Also, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around how big VR could be, and trying not to look at it as merely a gaming peripheral. If it has the potential to become it's own medium, like TV or radio, and also achieve double digit percentage adoption rates, then it's definitely going to change the world. It sounds crazy, but If people stay goggled in for many hours a day, then this is going to become their primary screen, and unlike TVs and even smartphones, you can't avert your eyes or look elsewhere at a VR ad or "media chunk". So, the ability to have airtight messaging visually and aurally is going to make it very attractive.

And if that's the case, it'll definitely go way beyond product advertising and entertainment. We've talked about art here and how VR will create these great experiences. But there's probably going to be some crazy applications for it. For example, religious worship. A preacher could create a virtual church or recreate Bible scenes or maybe even something like Mercerism.

The more I think about it, the more crazy it gets. Hopefully, I'm just overthinking it.
posted by FJT at 1:40 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


(If you liked The Entertainment, the developers also created Kentucky Route Zero, which is a serial adventure about a guy trying to get through the mystic back woods to deliver some stuff. There are ghost miners, odd conversations, a dog, a glowing D20, an interlude of two two guys pushing an airplane down the highway, and that's just Act I.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 4:04 PM on March 31


Everyone seems to be quoting Ready Player One -- has anyone read it? Any good?
posted by empath at 7:28 PM on March 31


I liked Ready Player One, and I'm not really a sci fi fan.
posted by sweetkid at 8:00 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Everyone seems to be quoting Ready Player One -- has anyone read it? Any good?

It's a pretty straightforward hacker-teenager-fights-the-system story with a firehose of 80s nostalgia attached.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:06 PM on March 31 [2 favorites]






Hopefully, I'm just overthinking it. I don't think you are over-thinking it. Mediating someones reality is powerful magic. I don't know what a war on VR will look like but we'll probably have one at some point.
posted by vicx at 12:58 PM on April 15


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