Facebook might have just managed to one up HTC‘s unveiling of the HTC One (M8) in terms of publicity, or we should say notoriety. The social networking giant has just announced purchase of Oculus, makers of the famed Rift VR headset, to the tune of $2 billion, sending netizens into a frenzy.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Oculus is poised to create the most social platform ever. Despite the fact that users will be occluding themselves from other people physically. Believing that Oculus is one of the platforms of the future, he is investing heavily into the company to create experiences beyond gaming, including communications and, of course, social networking. For many of Oculus’ fans, however, it all sounds like an empty promise.
Facebook doesn’t inspire much confidence when it comes to gaming. Sure, the social network-turned-platform was notable for having inspired, nurtured, and capitalized on games like FarmVille, whether you consider that a point for or against the argument. However, it has not really lent itself to more immersive gaming experiences that Oculus Rift has been trying to sell.
That fact wasn’t lost on game developers, gamers, and supporters of the VR headset who immediately took to the net to express their displeasure. Some even practically called Oculus a traitor. Very few would consider Facebook to be a game-centric business and many fear that its obvious social networking bias will change Oculus’ goals and focus. One such voice of protest came from Minecraft creator Markus Persson, a.k.a. Notch, who said on Twitter that he is ending talks to bring Minecraft to Oculus. Notch was a tad more understanding, congratulating both on a successful business deal, just that it’s a business he will be no part of.
Oculus joins Facebook’s growing list of controversial acquisitions. Two years ago, it acquired Instagram, which has fortunately remained mostly untouched. Just recently, it announced its purchase of WhatsApp, which brought the instant messaging service and its security and privacy measures under great scrutiny. The world, especially the gaming industry, will be watching closely to see if Facebook’s Midas touch will once again be working its magic.