Is the Oculus Rift doomed?


EvilDragon

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You probably couldn't have missed the news - Facebook acquires Oculus VR. And it seems hell has broken loose in the internet.

But hey - what does that have to do with an official Pyra News Blog entry?
Well, a bit - but read on.

I'd like to share my opinion on the whole story.

1. What has the Oculus Story to do with the Pyra?

Oculus shares quite a few things, actually.
Similar to the Pandora, it started with a few people who had an idea, stepped into the Indie-/Dev-Scene and got a huge amount of interest from all over the world when they did their Kickstarter.
The Pandora didn't use Kickstarter, but the hype in 2008 was high enough to sell 4000 preorders within a few days until we capped it...

So yes, similar start, however the Oculus had a lot less production issues than the Pandora - which was way better.

I met Palmer Luckey (the man behind the Oculus) at the GamesCom last year - or better: he found me at our booth and just wanted to say "Hi", as he was a 'fan of me' (said that with a smile, of course ;) )
Turned out he was one of the first persons to get a Pandora (very early preorderer, as was notch, by the way) and he followed the full Pandora development story (and learned a lot from that which helped with Oculus development as well).
I'm in good contact with him since then (he's excited about a Pandora successor as well) and we discussed about adding OR support into the Pyra as well... hardwarewise, everything that is needed for OR support is included.

Similar start, we know each other and want to work together on OR support for the Pyra, and both devices have their roots in the indie-developer scene...

So yes, the Oculus has some connections to the Pyra, and therefore, I'd like to give my opinion on the shitstorms that are going on in the net.

 

2. My personal opinion about the sale

Well, when I read it first, I was probably as shocked as you are.

What the heck - Facebook grabbing another promising playground for Indie-Devs?
What will happen now, how could Palmer do this?

I've read hundreds of comments on the web.

As expected, huge companies see the big picture and think it's a great oppurtunity.

Casual users and Facebook visitors (who probably never heard about the Oculus before) think it's exciting.

The community that has been supporting the OR until now is angry, as most of them hate Facebook (which I can totally understand as well).

While I don't know the details or backgrounds about the sale, I can totally understand what happened here.

As I know from personal experience (and you as well if you followed my Blog Posts), it's incredible hard to find the hardware you need for a system (think of the LCD or Soc).

We had to make compromises (like a portrait LCD which we need to rotate later using the OMAP hardware).

Oculus has competition now (Sony...) and they don't really want to make compromises, they want to provide the best experience out there.

To do that, you need money. A LOT of money, which allows you to develop and produce customized stuff. The display is the most important thing for the Oculus - if it's bad, people will be disappointed, so that's where they want to invest.

Also, to get support from major game companies, you need a huge coverage. While 75,000 sold devkits is amazing in the indie scene (heck, I would be a happy camper if I could sell 75,000 Pyras...), it's still a small player in a global market.

With Facebook buying OR, you immediately have a huge press coverage (I guess everyone saw the amount of press news posts in the web).

You also get money needed to start with customized part developments. And discussing with business partners is probably a lot easier as well, if you're part of Facebook...

So from a business point of view, I can totally understand it.

If you've ever met Palmer in real life: He's a totally enthusiastic and nice guy. I'm pretty sure he's not doing it for money - he has his dream about Virtual Reality and wants to make the experience as good as possible.

3. Was that a good thing he did?

Well - I'm pretty mixed about that...

I love Indie development, I love stuff that is NOT backed by a huge company, I love how people with an idea fight to make their dream come true, fighting against the global players.

However, even if that's what I love, it's often not possible in reality.

I don't really like all the stuff Facebook does either - but I won't say anything bad about Mark Zuckerberg as I have no idea how he REALLY is (never trust any stories in the Internet!)

It's too early to do a shitstorm in the internet though - wait and see what will happen.

Maybe it will turn out good, maybe it will turn out bad.

It will probably be a sad loss for the Indie scene - but maybe not. Who knows at this point?

I do hope neither Palmer or Oculus will be screwed by Facebook, but we don't know yet.

I am pretty sure that Palmer thought a lot about that though. It was NO easy choice... that's for sure.

I can both understand the ranting community as I can understand why the sale happened... but whether it was a good choice is something only time will tell.

4. Will I ever sell the Pyra like that?

Heck, I doubt any huge company will be interested in the Pyra (and I'm happy about that, as this is probably the hardest choice you ever have to make for your own company).

The Oculus is something new - VR. Something that could be a breakthrough.

The Pyra is a niche device and will always be one, in my opinion.

But still, there will be a time when a LOT of money will be needed:

When production starts.

As it currently looks like, the minimum order quantity for the LCDs is 5000pcs.

So even if I do make a production batch of 1000 units for a start, I'd still need to buy 5000 LCDs upfront.

An LCD is about 70 EUR - so instead of 70,000 EUR, I'd need 350,000 EUR just for the LCDs (which is a HUGE difference).

Will we get it from preorders?

Maybe a rich private guy who will give a credit until enough units have been sold to pay him back?

A private investor?

Who knows.

I know I would not sell it - unless there's absolutely positively no other way to keep things going.

But we managed to revive the Pandora, which was probably much more complex compared to just start the Pyra production.
All with help from investors within the community, no company sale, nothing else.

So it's very very very unlikely something like that will ever happen with the Pyra.

I'm sure whatever issues we'll run into, we'll find a solution with the community somehow :)
 
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Askarus

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Facebook becomes too big.

That scares me.

As long as the OR does have no connection to any Facebook stuff I will use it.

If there is any data sent or any Facebook stuff required I won't get that thing.
 

ssokolow

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I wouldn't mind buying a Facebook Rift as long as there are open drivers.

That's the big difference between the Rift and the Pyra. If sold to a Facebook-like company, the Pyra could have a locked bootloader or firmware that phones home regardless of what the OS says. On the other hand, the worst they could plausibly do for the Rift is give driver reverse-engineers something to practice on as they did with the Kinect.
 

(I seriously doubt they could do what was done with the Leap Motion Controller and push so much of the device's intelligence into a binary driver blob that they effectively stall reverse-engineering.)
 
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EvilDragon

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I wouldn't mind buying a Facebook Rift as long as there are open drivers.


That's the big difference between the Rift and the Pyra. If sold to a Facebook-like company, the Pyra could have a locked bootloader. On the other hand, the worst they could do for the Rift is give driver reverse-engineers something to practice on as they did with the Kinect.

(I seriously doubt they could do what was done with the Leap Motion Controller and push so much of the device's intelligence into a binary driver blob that they effectively stall reverse-engineering.)
You never know. If they create customized hardware, they have an LCD where no one knows how to talk to it.
 

levi

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Yeah, selling out to a company with better liquidity makes sense for getting custom parts and ASICs, but of course the worry here is what FB think they're getting out of the bargain themselves, other than the profits from selling units. It's hard to see any genuine links between FB's existing businesses and the Rift.


Good to hear your position on the situation.
 

Askarus

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On the other hand, the worst they could plausibly do for the Rift is give driver reverse-engineers something to practice on as they did with the Kinect.
For me the worst thing is if the the Rift has to be connected to some Facebook or always asks me to connect to a Facebook account.

As long as it stays a stand alone product with HDMI I think it's not that a big problem.
 

EvilDragon

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Yes, the real worry is Facebook.

I do trust Palmer, and I trust he made a deal which enables him to continue as they did until now. At least for a certain timeframe.

However, sometime in the future, Facebook could replace Palmer and do whatever they want.

That's what I dislike with huge companies.

With small companies (like my own one), you can talk to the guys and either build trust or not.

With huge companies, you don't have the chance doing that, you never know where they're heading.
 
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doragasu

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It's year 2015. I attach my brand new Facebook Rift to my head and launch the "Rift Enabled version" of "Bioshock Infinite". A Facebook login screen pops up. A bit annoying, but I log in, load a save file and continue playing my previous game. The experience is amazing, it just feels as being inside Columbia. When I have been playing for 15 minutes, suddenly a banner appears on top of the screens: "Find hot girls in your neighbourhood". Damn, I should not have gazed at Elisabeth's cleavage!

Fiction? Reality? Time will tell.

The only thing I can say is I have never had and hopefully will never have a FB account. If Rift requires Facebook, I will stay away of it. And knowing FB core business, I suspect it will require FB, and maybe it will be used to mine more data from its users. Using rift FB can easily know in what are you fixing your attention. And I do not want that.
 

ghostpatch

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^ good example. It shows how scary it can be. Our thoughts will become a product : \

Facebook is a disease. They're selling you out. They sell everything they can get from you. Even when that information comes from a third party, like a family member, a friend, or someone who knows you. I have zero trust in Facebook. Why should I? They even analyse the suff your typing but never send - how sick is that????  -.-

I wouldn't abandon Oculus Rift just for beeing bought by Facebook but I'm pretty worried. Time will tell whether they manages to keep their values or not.
 
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Hồng Thất Công

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Heh, I don't mind Facebook buying the Pyra out.  But they have to put ED in charge of the whole Facebook company and that everyone assholes at Facebook must listen to ED's order.  Otherwise, OpenPandora is my last open device...

Edit:  Is Palmer Luckey Craig?  Or Craig is Palmer Luckey? or Palmer Craig Luckey? Or  Craig Palmer Luckey? Or Palmer Luckey Craig? :D
 
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Saber

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I think it's a good match for OR's Palmer Luckey and the behemoth Facebook. A way to reach a lot more people with a more polished product. 

As for the common concerns over the ethics of a huge vs small company comment, in general, the size has little to do with how dishonest or honest their business practices are. Although a large business will have many more layers of corruption and thus greater negative impact, a much smaller one will still cheat you blind if the owner and management is of a shifty nature. It's who is in charge not necessarily always how many. 
 

God Ginrai

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Oculus has competition now (Sony...) and they don't really want to make compromises, they want to provide the best experience out there.
Honestly, I feel like the Facebook acquisition does more for their competition than it does for them. Consumers trust Sony to make a good product. Facebook, however, has no experience in hardware aside from their close connection with HTC for the flop that was the HTC First.

Also, EvilDragon, if you could respond to my pm, I'd appreciate it.

-God Ginrai
 

Foxgod

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Could it be an april fools joke?

Maybe, just maybe, it  will turn out to be, i cannot imagine that Oculus is worth 2 Billion already...
 
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I think that acquisition was appalling. Notch's (minecraft creator) comments on it were pretty much spot on.

>Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.

>And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.

I think I'd rather Oculus had been acquired by Monsanto or the Lehman Brothers.

I'm just glad I never chipped in money to the kickstarter and doubly glad that Valve are working on their own VR solutions.

Could it be an april fools joke?

Maybe, just maybe, it  will turn out to be, i cannot imagine that Oculus is worth 2 Billion already...
They paid 20 billion for an IM application the other month.
 
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Kiga

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An LCD is about 70 EUR - so instead of 70,000 EUR, I'd need 350,000 EUR just for the LCDs (which is a HUGE difference).
Maybe a rich private guy who will give a credit until enough units have been sold to pay him back?
Facebook will acquire virtual-reality technology company Oculus VR for $2 billion
I met Palmer Luckey [...] (he's excited about a Pandora successor as well)
Well, I am annoyed that Oculus Rift has been sold to Facebook, but if it can help the Indie(light) side it would not be too bad.
 
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Saber

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I think I'd rather Oculus had been acquired by Monsanto or the Lehman Brothers.
Ridiculous.

I find Facebook's core service at most a medium for social addicts with too much leisure time(like Twitter, IRC, or the like), but Monsanto's products and practices are by far much more dangerous, a cancer to the world. 
 
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I was being hyperbolic to make a point.

Yes facebook aren't as evil as either the Lehman brothers or Monsanto but they're still pretty damn evil in data mining everyones life.

Here's a quote from Zuckerberg himself

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuck: Just ask
Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?
Zuck: People just submitted it.
Zuck: I don't know why.
Zuck: They "trust me"
Zuck: Dumb fucks
 
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