Casual buyout

How Oculus left the hardcore gamers feeling betrayed.

Let’s start with a bit of context. Facebook just bought oculus for $2B.
The feedbacks were like what we are used to after a big buyout, satisfied or filed with rage, automatically blaming Facebook for ruining everything.

I usually do not care too long about these announcements. I think about it for a few minutes and then it’s gone, lost in the torrent of my twitter feed. But this time it was different, I had an opinion, it was about gaming.

A bit of background.

I consider myself a hardcore gamer, at least I was. I grew up with video games starting on an Amstrad before I was even able to articulate the word “Processor”. I was lucky enough to get almost all the gaming consoles from the Master system to the Playstation 2. I started playing computer games in the meantime and it then became my platform of choice.

My first own computer was a HP 166Mhz. I played Doom and Duke Nukem 3D for hours. I stepped up my game the following years and started building my own rigs. At the time I was playing Counter-Strike competitively (or at least trying to). I started on the beta version until the 1.6 where my focused changed to MMORPG, starting with DAOC, Star Wars Galaxies and WOW to name the bigger ones. I think my /played on these is about at least 2 years if we take all characters. I must have spent 1/3 of my life in front of a screen, literally. Nothing to brag about though.

Ok, let’s stop with the curriculum.

The reasons why Facebook bought Oculus makes perfect sense. If you want to connect people with each other you try to find the best tool for it.
Virtual reality will be a prominent actor in the future of human interactions beyond anything we can imagine at the moment. We may be scared, it may be creepy for us but it won’t be for the future generations.

Oculus being the leader in the area right now and Facebook having unlimited founds, it just makes sense that it happened. It is a great move.
For Facebook and dare I say, for Virtual reality.

Notice how I left out the gaming part out of it. That’s where the pains comes from. That’s where a lot of hardcore gamers felt betrayed.

It’s not about gaming anymore.

Oculus kickstarted its life supported by a gaming community made of hardcore gamers, moders and developers really enthusiast to help the platform move forward and to participate in this great adventure. Dev kits were sent, games were created, big names in hardcore gaming backed the project such as CCP with EVE Valkyrie. It was going to be a huge thing, created by gamers for gamers. It was the first great, viable application of a VR headset and it didn’t make you vomit after 2 minutes of usage, that was a plus.

Then Facebook bought it.

In his blog post, Mark Zuckerberg mentioned gaming promptly before talking about what the future of Oculus was going to be.

It will be about VR. And this is awesome.

It truly is. I do think that this will bring VR faster and cheaper to the world.
Oculus as a headset will only get better. It’s really about how it’s going to be used.

Facebook is not gaming, at least not as hardcore gamers sees it or how oculus backers saw it. It’s quite the opposite. The nemesis if you will.
The FarmVille to the freshly coded alpha version of DayZ. Candy Crush to Diablo II.

The Oculus was not for everybody, Facebook is.

This is where it clashes. Hardcore gaming is niche. Oculus was talking to this niche. This world of game enthusiasts ready to strap to their head this big piece of plastic and look silly… you know… before it becomes cool.

If you pride yourself in being different from everybody, you can see how the two visions are incompatible.

So was there a misunderstanding of the Oculus’ creators on the goal of the headset or did they see a tremendous opportunity to develop their product beyond this niche? I do not think it matters. What’s important is that they paved the way. Oculus is maybe not this holy grail of gaming anymore but they finally created a VR headset that works for gaming.

And I know, they got John Carmack, but we’ll get over it.

What’s next ?

Nothing is going to change in the short term. Oculus will continue to work on its product independently of Facebook, just with a lot more founding. Some developpers will not support the platform, like Notch. Some will reconsider, or not. Oculus may lose some of its core supporters but they will gain so much more, they will be far ahead the competition in the VR world.

Is Facebook going to ruin it ?
Maybe for some, but to the benefit of another (and probably bigger) audience. It is not in Facebook’s interest to cripple Oculus nor to limit its deployment.

This is why so many are angry. Now, it belongs to “them”, the others… everybody.

VR is going to be more prominent. It will stimulates other companies and this is always a good thing.

Facebook is not a gaming company, and it’s hard for gamers to acknowledge the fact that it goes beyond this. Now what is left for us is to wait. Wait for the next thing that will make our gamers’ heart go boom, until business, as usual, changes it.

For more thoughts, check Twitter and Google+ or Facebook :P
Header image modified from the original by Maxxxkilla

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