Earlier this month at the SXSW festival, Beutler Ink's Jenny Karn and Bill Beutler decided to take an hour to wait in line and try out the upcoming version of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Survey says: yeah, Oculus is for real! It even gave Bill motion sickness, and he never gets that otherwise. Then this week we learned Oculus was so for real that Facebook bought it for a cool $2 billion.
Will it create a rift between Oculus and gamers? What follows is a genuine, if slightly reformatted, email exchange between Jenny and Bill over the past 24 hours...
Phew, dodged a bullet here.
Sent from my iPad
He's referring to this:
As for this acquisition, I have lots of thoughts!
First, Facebook is paying only $2 billion for this when they offered Snapchat $3 billion. That's absurd. Oculus Rift has SO much more potential to disrupt every type of media we know, as opposed to Snapchat, a service that has already reached max coolness and can only down (I'm 28 and I use it for crying out loud!).
I'm disappointed to learn how upset some gamers are. Take Notch for instance. He's saying that Minecraft will now NEVER be available on Oculus because he's disappointed they sold to Facebook. I think it's cool that Notch did it all on his own. He didn't have to get acquired and he still made one of the most popular games of all time. But you know what he didn't need a ton of? Capital. He was not trying to make a new hardware accessible to the masses. His game works on existing technology. Oculus is a different product, and I think his condemning their choice to sell to Facebook is arrogant and unrealistic.
Maybe this isn't the best move for gaming. Maybe this position Oculus to branch out beyond gaming and revolution other media, especially movies. But I'm not a gamer. So I'm just excited.
Yeah, I have mixed feelings. Sounds like Oculus is still going to be released as a gaming platform at some point, but it's an odd fit with Facebook and it doesn't seem like their interests are truly aligned. If it proves to be a plus-and scenario—allowed to operate as a gaming company, with the technology also adapted toward social network-y ends, great.
Same goes for my take on the gaming community: the above describes why I understand their worry, though I hope it doesn't become overreaction. I'm afraid what happens if others follow Notch's suit and the bad feeling becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other hand, good games and brisk sales could solve all that. If I was Zuckerberg, I'd find something objectively pro-gamer to do, soon, to allay concerns. I don't think I've ever heard a story about him as a gamer, though.
And I am a gamer, up to a point. I play one game at a time, and even then only a few times per week, but I'll play it for months. So I care... but not as much as others. Would I like to try the Oculus Rift version of the next Elder Scrolls? Yes, faster please.