Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Facebook Rift

Well.  This happened.  Surprising and disturbing.  I'll keep it quick.

The OR guys built a lot of support out of claiming the Oculus Rift was by gamers, for gamers.  They built up a fair amount of seed money through Kickstarter.  They secured additional funding from investors.  They pulled in John Carmack to buoy this image even more.  Then they turned around and sold to a platform whose most famous games include Farmville, scrabble-knockoffs, and other worst-in-breed (or maybe best-in-breed?) examples of micro-transaction fueled cash-grabing.  All of this backed by a corporate ethos dedicated to eroding privacy in the name of advertising revenue.

There is a lot to discuss here.  The impact this might have on Kickstarter as a platform for small, innovative ideas.  The responsibility of developers to crowd-sourced projects.  The enormous power of a few large tech corporations to dictate the direction of multiple interwoven industries.  The fate of whatever the consumer version of the Rift looks like.  I may come back to those topics later.  Each of those sentences is a blog post or two.

For now, I'll leave two thoughts.  First, this might be a reasonable explanation for why Valkyrie suddenly stopped being an Oculus Rift Exclusive.  Sony may not be the greatest company, but they have a much better track record than Facebook in regards to gaming platforms.  Second, this is just disappointing.  I had the chance to play with an OR dev kit a few months ago and I was very excited to pony up whatever the 1080p consumer version would have cost.  Now... I'd rather not have to deal with the likelihood of Facebook integration.

Maybe Facebook is going to try and branch out into providing a real gaming platform.  If the short history of the company is any indicator, this is another smash and grab for more users at the expense of quality user experiences.  I do hope I am wrong, and this is the beginning of something very exciting.  We'll have to wait and see.

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