Oculus Rift co-founder responds to Facebook criticism

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It must have been a weird few days for Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey. The 21 year old (yeah, sickening isn’t it?) not only is a couple of billion dollars better off, but it must feel like the entire internet has turned against him. To respond to the critics, he took to Reddit, personally intervening in the many threads discussing it. Here’s our pick of his responses.

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On original Kickstarter backers being “frozen out” of the success:

“Don’t blame us, blame draconian government regulations regarding “accredited investors”. CliffyB met the criteria, and invested before the success of the Kickstarter. Same goes for the comment by Chris Plante: We could not have taken money from middle class investors even if we wanted to!”

On whether Oculus apps will now be forced to carry advertising:

“That is a developer decision, not our decision. If someone wants to sell a game with built-in ads, they will have to deal with the natural consequences.”

On “Why Facebook?”

“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.”

“We have had a lot of interest in the past [from other companies looking to buy], but only from people who would tear us apart and make us work on their own stuff. We have zero interest in doing that, and there is no number that could convince us otherwise. Facebook is going to give us access to massive resources, but let us operate independently on our own vision. There are so many things we can do that used to be impossible.”

On what the $2bn will actually be spent on.

“We have not gotten into all the details yet, but a lot of the news is coming. The key points:
1) We can make custom hardware, not rely on the scraps of the mobile phone industry. That is insanely expensive, think hundreds of millions of dollars. More news soon.
2) We can afford to hire everyone we need, the best people that fit into our culture of excellence in all aspects.
3) We can make huge investments in content. More news soon.”

On whether Facebook will build its own equivalent to Steam or the app store:

“We are already working on our own VR game platform/launcher, but we are not going to force everything to go through it. Facebook has no interest in changing that, they believe in what we have been doing all along.”

On whether Oculus will require a Facebook login to use (will this be Palmer’s Nick Clegg moment?):

“I guarantee that you won’t need to log into your Facebook account every time you wanna use the Oculus Rift.”

On Oculus’s use by the gaming community:

Almost everyone at Oculus is a gamer, and virtual reality will certainly be led by the games industry, largely because it is the only industry that already has the talent and tools required to build awesome interactive 3D environments. In the long run, though, there are going to be a lot of other industries that use VR in huge ways, ways that are not exclusive to gamers; the current focus on gaming is a reflection of the current state of VR, not the long term potential. Education, communication, training, rehabilitation, gaming and film are all going to be major drivers for VR, and they will reach a very wide audience. We are not targeting social media users, we are targeting everyone who has a reason to use VR.

So what do we think? Personally, I’m particularly intrigued by the custom hardware point – if they can build specific displays for Oculus, and not just use mobile phone screens that will be a much better product. I’m cautiously optimistic. Let us know what you think in the comments!

James O’Malley