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What Does Facebook's Oculus Rift Acquisition Mean for PS4's Virtual Reality Headset?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Ready player one

The best thing about this industry is its ability to surprise every single day – but even we feel like we’ve been sucked into an alternate reality this evening. In case you haven’t heard the show stopping news coming out of the United States today, Facebook has purchased Oculus Rift for an eye-watering $2 billion in cash and shares. Just let that little tidbit seep into your accessory obscured eyes for a couple of seconds. Facebook has purchased Oculus Rift.

You’re reading a PlayStation site, so you may be wondering why we’re even bothering to cover this bizarre turn of events. Well, it has implications on the PlayStation 4, primarily because Sony stepped into the virtual reality space itself approximately a week ago with Project Morpheus. Of course, the first-party accessory had been rumoured for some time, but the platform holder opted to employ the Game Developers Conference to reveal its own vision of the future of games.

While the firm stressed that it was open to working with the creators of the Oculus Rift to build a quality future for virtual reality, there had been some discussion about whether the devices could co-exist. At the time, Project Morpheus had the advantage of a colossal electronics company and a gigantic brand to back its vision, while its competitor had the experience of a dream team of developers and an ever evolving target platform.

Those details haven’t exactly changed with today’s acquisition, but the circumstances certainly have. Facebook overlord Mark Zuckerberg stressed in an open letter that the Oculus Rift will continue to operate independently, and will turn its attention to “immersive gaming [...] first”. However, it’s clear that that original premise is going to represent a small portion of the product’s future plans, with new communication possibilities clearly the long-term goal.

“After games, we're going to make Oculus Rift a platform for many other experiences,” he wrote on his personal profile. “Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world, or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home. This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life.”

Sony touched upon some of this during its Project Morpheus presentation, but ultimately concluded that games are at the heart of its vision for now. “At this time we're focused on PlayStation,” said senior engineer Anton Mikhailov in an interview with Eurogamer.net. However, he added that those wider implementations discussed by Zuckerberg have the potential to drive virtual reality’s adoption.

So, back to the question that we started with: what does all of this mean for the PS4’s recently announced peripheral? Well, there have been a lot of knee jerk reactions online already – an Oculus Rift edition of Minecraft was announced and cancelled in a single tweet – but the honest answer is that it’s too early to say. Only one thing's for sure: the big fish little fish metaphor pertaining to the two products has been turned on its head – and make no mistake, Sony is the minnow this time around.

However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The major point that we have taken away from today’s news is that virtual reality is now most definitely a thing, and Sony’s expansion into the space seems almost validated by this move. Exactly whether it can – or, indeed, needs to – compete with the freshly acquired Oculus Rift will all depend on Facebook’s long-term plans for the format. We’ll be watching closely with a goggle enhanced gaze.


What do you make of Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift? Do you think that this is good news or bad news for Project Morpheus? Strap yourself in courtesy of the comments section below.

[via oculusvr.com, facebook.com]

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User Comments (28)

XCWarrior

#1

XCWarrior said:

Sony announced more layoffs today. I wouldn't be chasing a niche market of people who want Virtual Reality with Project Morpheus. I think they will burn more money than they will make.

But hey, I could be wrong. Virtual Boy was a huge success for Nintendo.

get2sammybAdmin

#2

get2sammyb said:

@XCWarrior Is it niche, or is it the future, though? $2 billion says Facebook thinks the latter. Are they right?

So many unanswered questions...

Paranoimia

#3

Paranoimia said:

Personally, I'm not interested in the whole VR thing, but I'd still expect Sony to make a better job of it than Oculus/Facebook.

jmburks

#4

jmburks said:

This reminds me of that movie, " The Gamer" or whatever it was called with Gerald Buttler.

goonow

#5

goonow said:

I think it just comes down to whoever can do VR for the cheapest. People want vr, but they dont need vr to play games, so it has to be really well priced, like 200.

XCWarrior

#6

XCWarrior said:

@get2sammyb At the end of the day, the majority of core gamers - those who purchase a lot of games per year - want their good old button pressing games. I just can't see VR using Move controls is suddenly going to make Move controls cool.

I say this as someone who actually likes motion controls and is a core gamer, but I feel like I'm in the minority on that.

get2sammybAdmin

#7

get2sammyb said:

@goonow Are these devices even competing, though? I can't see people wanting to own multiple headsets, but at the same time, I now feel like Morpheus and Oculus are maybe moving in different directions.

Such a weird turn of events.

rjejr

#8

rjejr said:

Oculus Rift should at least now do as well as Zygna ;-)

Im not sure what to make of this news except that Zuckerberg could have made that $2.5 mil kickstarter campaign w/ the change in his sofa cushions so saying they now have more working capital is s bit of an understatement. I do like his comments about this being the future of experience after he gets that gaming part out of the way. Its probably going to be a few decades before we can plug into virtual raves like they did more famously on Caprica but more recently on Almost Human so this does have potential for the almost there crowd. Have any of the dev kit owning bloggers written about drug usage experiences w/ VR? Im guessing its either much better or a complete freakout, depending on the drug.

OR at least has a Minecraft mod area, I posted a link to Dans youtube video last week. Im on my tablet know though so no links, just really bad 1 ginger typing.

Punkinhead145

#9

Punkinhead145 said:

Zuckerberg rubs me the wrong way sometimes. My prediction is Oculus Rift's original intentions of gaming will be more or less phased out and will become yet another glorified social media thing, which could have some cool implications like true "Facetime" and movies and such, and the Morpheus project will fail, but not crash and burn. More so it will be like a fighter pilot who, after a decent dogfight, had to eject and float to the ground. These two things will pave the way to virtual reality gaming in the future. I believe that these projects, even if they fail, will pave the way to the future of VR media. Either way, the sprouting VR "industry" will have a rocky road ahead, in my humble opinion, but the paving trucks will come soon enough, just not right now.

AeroZeppelin

#10

AeroZeppelin said:

@XCWarrior Your not alone i like motion controls two i disagree i think Sony and Facebook can make VR a success still At the end of the day we can't predict the future and we don't speak for every gamer and average consumer in the world we speak for ourselves

AVahne

#11

AVahne said:

Facebook? NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ginkgo

#12

Ginkgo said:

Although I would love nothing more than VR to invade my life (Ready Player One anyone??) as I have said in previous threads, I am still far from convinced in the current level of technology.

I think the current crop of VR headsets coming out will have their day briefly as a novelty, but fade like 3D TV has. The downsides of the tech will outweigh the benefits for most people after the initial excitement wears off.

Having said that, there is certainly room for Morpheus and OR to co-exist. The competition etc will be useful in creating a new segment. So I think that the Facebook purchase is positive for both Facebook and Sony. I don't think either will make money off VR, but the tech will need backing to get off the ground. So its a good thing.

charlesnarles

#13

charlesnarles said:

Online classes? Dr visits? I don't think goggles are the best interface for that. Hotel rooms or concerts I can understand, tho. Still, why FB at all, just cause he can? Boo.

Alpha

#15

Alpha said:

@get2sammyb I love that first Paragraph expecially that line

"Just let that little tidbit seep into your accessory obscured eyes for a couple of seconds. Facebook has purchased Oculus Rift."

xD that made me go "Oh S**t" lol

N711

#16

N711 said:

Click the pic to see what happens and like and share if you hate cancer! XD

Shaolin

#17

Shaolin said:

I'm excited but also intrigued to see what both companies can do and how they can bring Virtual Reality to the masses. Now all we have to do is make sure we don't end up with a VR equivalent of the silly Xbox vs PlayStation fanboy war then we'll have made real progress.

AhabSpampurse

#18

AhabSpampurse said:

@Ginkgo when I read about the acquisition that was the first book I thought of. Cheap, affordable VR that will be available for the masses. Its sometimes hard not to feel we're all on the brink of a huge technological step for mankind.

eLarkos

#20

eLarkos said:

After reading a bit about this im really starting to think it was a genuine deal. Oculus have said for a long time that the OR is not necessarily a gaming device. They have initially targeted gamers because its the easiest software to develop and tech/gamer geeks are generally early adopters. Their true vision is for VR to take over the world and it looks like FB want to help them succeed in this.

thedevilsjester

#22

thedevilsjester said:

Maybe this will make Sony expand their VR past the PS4 sooner than planned to capture the Oculus Rift fans that defect because they don't want to buy into a product owned by FB.

Squiggle55

#23

Squiggle55 said:

Very unexpected news. If the businesses are run seperately this is great news for OR with all that money.

Does anyone else think the ultimate killer app is going to be WoW eventually?

Chris1975

#24

Chris1975 said:

@get2sammyb Completely agree Sammy, this IS the future, it may be "niche" now but I see large scale adoption in the near future as things like social networking become integrated (at least on the Rift side of things).

A number of generations have been waiting on technology like this, to those of a younger outlook this may not be something that has been on your radar but for children of the eighties and nineties this has long been a dream and as such it feels like we are taking a step into a future we have long just been standing on the threshold of.

JaxonH

#25

JaxonH said:

Hard to say whether this is good or bad for Occulus Rift gaming, or even if it's good or bad for Sony. I'm inclined to think that with FB owning OR now, the project will have the funding needed to see it through to the end. And with a more diverse range of applications in store, it only ensures the product will find its' way to the consumer, which will ultimately work toward greater development commitment.

On the other hand, the fact the Occulus Rift owners decided to sell out only days after Sony announced Project Morpheus tells me Sony put a scare in them. If you're 100% confident in your product, why sell out all of a sudden? No, Sony definitely put a scare in the top brass of OR, and they decided to hedge their bets. I'm not sure if that says more about the quality of Sony's product, or lack of confidence in OR...

Bad-MuthaAdebisi

#26

Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

VR is the future, it doesn't mean its going to kill TV. People thought radio was dead, its still going and has been re invented on the internet. Maybe a box on your face isn't what you'd like but then its not always going to be a box. Relax and wait for the future.

MoleZandor

#27

MoleZandor said:

I've done a couple of little calculations over the last two days with facebooks stock. in one day oculuses 1.5 billion in facebook stock lost $1.4 million worth of shares. Today they lost another $100 million in shares. Facebook shares are plummeting.

ModernMARVEL

#28

ModernMARVEL said:

This means that I'm more likely to get Sony's headset before I bother with Oculus. Used to think 50/50, but now I'm 75/25. I do not care whether or not Facebook changes anything or not. Yes, this is fanboyism. I use consoles more than PCs anyways. This news managed to even ruin my friends day.

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