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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Aggie Arcade

Facebook’s Virtual Reality

While I was busy relaxing during spring break, Facebook created quite a buzz with its acquisition of Oculus VR for $2 billion, the company responsible for the Oculus Rift.

The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality head-mounted display which has yet to see a commercial release. Developer kits have been out there for a while now and those who have experienced the VR device express a level of excitement often saved for groundbreaking technology.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said of the Oculus Rift, “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

Some may see that statement as hyperbolic, but plenty of people share the sentiment when it comes to the Oculus Rift.

The acquisition itself proves far more divisive though. After reading the press release, I went to numerous game sites to see reaction to the news. To my surprise, it was overwhelmingly negative — it seems that a lot of people don’t trust Facebook. And the uproar is not limited to angry forum users.

Markus “Notch” Persson, creator of Minecraft, had plans to work on an Oculus Rift version of his wildly popular game. Upon hearing the news of the acquisition, he canceled those plans. He then took to Twitter and said, “Facebook creeps me out.”

I’m not the biggest fan of Facebook. I use it to stay in contact with old and current friends, but my life doesn’t revolve around the website. Also, I understand the distrust of Facebook — this is a company that has had security concerns and made questionable business decisions over the years. But it’s also a company with a lot of money.

Oculus VR will now have access to that money, which will only help strengthen the core technology. It will allow the company to be more ambitious and push its ideas even further. It also allows Oculus VR to compete with Sony, which revealed its own VR device — Project Morpheus — last month.

This all assumes that Facebook won’t interfere with the development process, which appears to be the main concern among skeptical individuals. They fear that Facebook will take the technology, disband Oculus VR and completely change the direction of the device. But a recent conference call indicates otherwise —Facebook sees this as a long-term investment, and they plan to let Oculus VR have full creative control of the development process.

Though I have my own concerns about the acquisition, I remain cautiously optimistic. I may not trust Facebook completely, but I do understand that this is the kind of business move Oculus VR had to make. The Oculus Rift could be a game changer, and with Facebook’s money and resources, the chances of success only increase.

ANTHONY LABELLA can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.



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