If you ask people what the next big trend in video games could be, a common answer is virtual reality. After all, what could be better than taking the concepts we already enjoy and realizing them in a way that can actually insert us into the game?
In 2012, Palmer Luckey founded Oculus VR, a company focused on bringing virtual reality to the gaming world through a wearable headset called the Oculus Rift. Essentially, the headset uses two 3-D lenses to immerse you in games. Games need to be specifically created or modified to support the Rift.
On March 25, things took an unexpected turn when Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion U.S. It’s one of those big purchases a company like Facebook can make, but no one saw this one coming. The decision has been met with confusion and anger, in part due to the way Oculus VR got off the ground.
A great idea needs money, so in 2012 Oculus VR used Kickstarter to ask for donations. With the money, they would start making kits to send to game developers. Fans who donated $300 or more would receive those kits as well, so they could begin to experience their investment. Things looked good after the Kickstarter raised over $2 million.
In August 2013, John Carmack, one of the top names in North American game development, joined Oculus VR to serve as their Chief Technical Officer. Carmack, who was the lead programmer on the infamous Doom, is a big boost to the company.
People started to pay a lot of attention to Oculus VR. Other companies and game creators seemed excited to start developing, and the company clearly had momentum on their side.
The success of Oculus VR will probably not be compromised by their new parent company, unless Facebook has some unknown plans for the technology. They probably just want to get in on the ground floor of what could prove to be a revolution for video games.
Yet, Oculus VR only became an entity worth $2 billion based on its fans and the donations the company received. Those fans aren’t the ones rolling in the cash. Rather, they’re concerned their investment has gone awry, and now an air of uncertainty hangs over the future of the Oculus Rift.
Business interest often clashes with public interest, and the gaming industry is no exception.
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