Occulus Rift Buyout

Just my 2c. Nothing really that special either, but just trying to put my ideas into words. FWIW I was not a backer but I am also not a believer of Facebook, despite having an active account there.

I think it’s great that Carmack and all those other guys now have the backing of a pretty spiffy company looking to change the way we integrate fancy technology in or daily lives. If Occulus Rift’s vision is to popularize VR beyond video games, okay, that’s fine.

But the problem is we are not even at step one, popularize VR in video games. Right now Bitcoins are more popular than Occulus Rift in terms of adaptation. There is no consumer product, just a lot of dev kits out there. If Occulus Rift is just a company that makes VR kits, maybe we have arrived, but this is not what its backers are really in for. Something like VR require not just support in the technical sense, but also in the platform sense. It needs not just developers but a developer community and channel, it needs backing of a player in the video games industry. Or players.

The problem is always about faith. Kickstarter, too, is a platform that runs on faith. All the talk about giving back to backers and investment versus preorder is besides the point. It doesn’t matter you are making a charitable donation or buying stocks, it requires faith that these acts will result in the things you want to happen–money spent to do the right kind of good works, or you get a positive ROI of whatever. And faith comes in that in both cases you rely on a third party or some external circumstances to carry these effects out. Sony’s HMV-T3 is already a thing you can buy, with the headtracking sensor addon announced at CES this year; OR is not treading new grounds in terms of what it promises to deliver.

The FB buyout violated faith of backers. These guys are buying dev kits or whatever, sure, but the vision of the VR (even in just video games) lives on even after all the crap is delivered. That’s what Kickstarter is actually about: supporting art and crap like that. And I think on this point the FB buyout goes pretty much against this exact point. Or maybe not so much “against” the spirit of independently funded venture to do something new or hard to commercialize; it’s more like we switch “independently funded” to “corporate funded.”

I’m not saying FB or OR wouldn’t carry out their vision of a VR whatever. I’m saying it’s like okay, so FB bought you guys, maybe the least you can do is to assure that your Kickstarter backers feel okay about this? These guys are the same gaming community that will help pave the way to a VR future. I would say even refunding the 2.5 million bucks would be pocket change for OR at this point, and it will go a very long way to help Kickstarter and OR’s fans. It’s a gesture of thanks. Thanks for having faith in OR, whatever.

I’m thinking if it was some other company that bought OR, like Microsoft or Nintendo, this would be like a positive move. Because those companies are actually directly operating in this space and it’s easy to see how it can further OR’s vision. FB? Not so much. Even if on the back end, FB is turning out to be an okay acquirer of startups.

In that way I’m glad nobody bought out Pebble yet. I wonder how they can stand against this. I suppose that’s something to think about, as a Pebble backer. Or it’s something I have already thought about and it seems like the problem they’re tackling is wholly different enough that 2 billion dollars from FB isn’t really going to change much.