If you've been paying attention to tech news this week, you'll already be familiar with the drama surrounding the hotly anticipated Virtual Reality device 'Oculus Rift'. If you're still in the dark about this, sit back and let's recap what's happened so far.
Announced earlier this week, Facebook has decided to buy out 'Oculus Rift' for a measly $2 billion (oh, and also some low altitude satellites). This news was huge for the community, in both pros and cons. On one hand, Oculus gets a bunch of money pumped into its product to make it the best it can be. On the other, people who had previously donated to the project wondered where they stood, and consumers in general wondered how much of Facebook would infiltrate the device.
One person who was not so happy about this was Markus "Notch" Persson, of 'Minecraft' fame. He wrote a blog post detailing his thoughts on the matter, and why he was not going to pursue bringing a version of 'Minecraft' to the VR device.
Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.
Don’t get me wrong, VR is not bad for social. In fact, I think social could become one of the biggest applications of VR. Being able to sit in a virtual living room and see your friend’s avatar? Business meetings? Virtual cinemas where you feel like you’re actually watching the movie with your friend who is seven time zones away?
But I don’t want to work with social, I want to work with games.
This, in turn, brought yet another wave of fear and speculation to the gaming populace. How many people would pull their games off of the device? Has this business venture between Facebook and Oculus killed the VR pipe dreams that so many have had for years?
Cliff Bleszinski says, no. The 'Gears of War' developer had his own take on the matter, in yet another detailed blog post which ends with a retort to Notch:
p.s. Notch, your cancelling Minecraft makes you look like a pouty kid who is taking his ball and going home. It’s a bratty and petty move and it saddens me greatly.
With that ending statement, the gauntlet had been thrown down. This was no longer about one company buying another. This had become an argument of emotion. And Notch didn't back down, tweeting back to Cliff Bleszinski that his ball, "was a potential free version of Minecraft designed to promote VR."
So, at this point, gamers are wondering if it's really the purchase of Oculus by Facebook that's going to kill the future VR industry, or is it the petty squabbles of influential developers? Ultimately, it's up to the consumer on whether or not they're willing to give Oculus its shot in the ring, regardless of whose money is backing it up.
Meanwhile, there are new contenders making their presence known. Sony announced its Project Morpheus at GDC 2014 earlier in the month, but Microsoft has made a move while everyone was paying attention to the Oculus acquisition. On Friday the news broke that Microsoft has bought out a ton of patents for augmented reality glasses, for possible use either with the XBox One or other Microsoft products.
It looks as if the future of VR really is coming to fruition, but it looks like it's going to be a updated version of the heated "Console Wars" which have been going on for years. We'll stay updated with the latest information and bring it to you to decide for yourself which product brings the best to the VR market.