Facebook’s Oculus VR buyout puts Project Morpheus front and center


When Sony unveiled Project Morpheus at GDC 2014 last week, it had one primary effect beyond buzz in gaming communities. It legitimized the desire for gaming to expand beyond gimmicky 3D presentations that require special TVs and glasses to enjoy to a fully immersive 3D experience. A major force in gaming was now behind the notion that virtual reality could actually be the future. Oculus Rift had up until now, continued to impress early adopters and people seemed hopeful that the Rift would pioneer virtual reality and bring it to mass market.

Then Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook had acquired Oculus VR for a deal worth around $2 billion in cash and stock. The gaming community exploded at this news. People on reddit and NeoGAF couldn’t believe the news at first. Many called it fake, before the official post announcing the acquisition went up on the Oculus VR blog. After that, many gamers lamented that Oculus VR was dead. Perhaps some game developers feel the same way, since Minecraft’s famous creator Markus “Notch” Persson announced on Twitter that they would cease developing a Rift-compatible version of Minecraft for the product. Persson didn’t want to do business with a Facebook owned company, calling it “creepy.”


So the backlash against this buyout is very real in gaming communities around the web, but what is Palmer Luckey’s reasoning behind it? Many accuse him of taking Kickstarter money and capitalizing on it for profit before ever bringing the product he asked money for to market in the first place. But according to recent comments from Luckey on his reddit account, the deal was made to make Rift a more affordable product for the masses.

This deal specifically lets us greatly lower the price of the Rift.

While that’s well and good for those who want to purchase the product once it’s ready, many are still worried about the impact that Facebook will have on the development. Cries of having to sign in using a Facebook ID and be served targeted advertisements have gone up, which Luckey denies as well. One redditor begged Luckey to confirm that there would be no tie-in to Facebook accounts. This was Luckey’s reply:

I promise. Why would we want to sell to someone like MS or Apple? So they can tear the company apart and use the pieces to build out their own vision of virtual reality, one that fits whatever current strategy they have? Not a chance.

While Luckey seems to hold bright the future of Oculus Rift, saying this deal with Facebook allowed them the necessary capital to continue expansion and build a product that doesn’t rely on mobile phone scraps, many gamers are a lot more jaded. It’s for this reason that Sony’s Project Morpheus could become the front and center for many gamer’s hopes when it comes to VR.

You’re Our Only Hope, Sony

Amid the cries of traitor and lambasting comments posted across the web as the Oculus VR acquisition broke, many gamers took up the cry of Sony being the savior of VR. It’s likely one that Sony will stand up and take notice, since doing the same worked out well for their marketing campaign when Microsoft blundered its way through the original Xbox One reveal, and then yet again in the weeks after its E3 presentation. Sony saw a unique opportunity to offer to gamers what its competitor wasn’t.

Marketing for the PlayStation 4 focused on games, while marketing for the Xbox One focused on Microsoft’s desire to put an all-in-one entertainment box in every living room in America. TV was a prime focus and something Sony never mentioned once. Ultimately, this strategy of wait-and-see worked out well, as the PlayStation 4 continues to lead in sales worldwide and in some regions, outsells the Xbox One as much as 2 to 1.

That same strategy could lead to Sony’s Project Morpheus gaining front and center when it comes to those interested in virtual reality. With Sony’s showcase at GDC you can bet Microsoft stood at attention. Nintendo likely took note of the new development as well, but with Oculus VR firmly in the hands of Facebook, competition to enter the VR space will be more fierce than ever before. Expect announcements about VR from Microsoft at E3. Expect Sony to continue to watch development and see what they can offer in their product that doesn’t cause gamers to outrage.

While the Oculus Rift was primarily a PC-targeted platform, if Sony manages to release an SDK and hardware development kit that can be designed to work with any architecture and not just Sony’s proprietary PlayStation 4, they could quickly become the lead in the virtual reality race.

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  • WiiUPS43DS

    I hate facebook..Well get ready people crappy facebook games on the VR…Sony will win this.

    • Zach Cruz

      Hope Microsoft creates something for VR, nothing wrong with competition it’ll just strive the two companies to make betters games. Exciting times. to bad about rift… was debating about getting their newer headset but glad i didnt.

  • CH3SH

    Wow, didn’t see that one coming, left Facebook a year ago with no regrets 😉

  • companyoflosers

    see if sony makes a pc version of their headset, ill be on board. im not usually one of those pc elitist jerks but i feel the console’s limited power kind of limits vr in this early stage. later on wen vr is more established i dont feel that should be a problem but i think that games that include vr will have to sacrifice things like frame rate to offer a high enough resolution not to mention vr has to render two slightly different viewpoints to accurately simulate what it looks like viewing something with two eyes. in a nutshell, you need better specs for convincing vr, pc’s have that, consoles not as much. once again consoles will offer the more accessible experience, but not the perfect one assuming there is such a thing.

  • brian murphy

    all this means is they dont need to worry about money anymore for oculus rift all they need is games to support it

  • Peter Neilen

    Well i think they are a bit to 🙂 about this. The storm will go away and after that oculus will be there still !! So it will be about cost and especially GAMES and ofcourse platforms….. I will give my money to the one that will have a good working device and games.