Technology

Facebook buys Oculus VR: Web reactions

Man uses Oculus Rift
Gamers had high hopes for the virtual reality headset - but some are now having doubts

That virtual reality company Oculus VR was acquired was no great shock - industry watchers had been predicting a deal for some time.

But the fact it was Facebook doing the buying came almost out of nowhere.

News of the $2bn acquisition immediately trended on Twitter - provoking a mixture of surprise and, in a lot of cases, anger.

Here's a round-up of reaction from around the web.

News sites

Gaming news website Kotaku began by reflecting the tone of discussion with this opening line: "Facebook has just announced that it's buying Oculus Rift for $2 billion. Seriously."

Several games developers had been working on adapting titles for the headset

It goes on to point out a posting on social news site Reddit one month ago in which an anonymous user wrote: "No way to confirm this, but my friend works in the same building as Oculus, and he ran into Mark Zuckerberg taking the elevator to Oculus' floor."

Following the news, a user returned to the prophetic post to write simply: "I laughed at this, now I'm crying."

On The Verge, Joshua Topolsky speculated on the bigger picture.

"As a service, Facebook is inspiring, as a platform, Facebook is scary," he wrote.

"That company now controls one of the most exciting technologies of the past fifty years.

"A truly revolutionary product that has reignited a dream many felt was all but dead and gone. What it will do with that technology is the only question that remains."

Games developers

While Oculus Rift can be used for many purposes, it is, at its heart, a device with which to play video games.

For the past couple of years, a raft of games developers has been experimenting with the kit, adapting their games to work well with the hardware.

But Markus "Notch" Persson, creator of the wildly popular online game Minecraft, did not hide his views.

Doom co-creator John Carmack said he was "still coding" on Oculus titles as normal

"We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus," he tweeted.

"I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out."

But another high-profile developer, Doom-co-creator John Carmack, dismissed any suggestion it was bad news.

"For the record, I am coding right now, just like I was last week.

"I expect the FB deal will avoid several embarrassing scaling crisis for VR."

Then again, Mr Carmack's views are to be expected - he was hired by Oculus VR last year to be its chief technology officer, and stands to make some serious money from the deal.

A perhaps more independent view comes from Dutch gaming company Vlambeer. The firm's "business and development guy" Rami Ismail told Engadget that Facebook was the "household name" Oculus needed.

"Facebook is a huge established tech presence, has amazing engineers, hardware, software, public mind-share and lots of money," he said.

"I mean, I am not a big fan of exits as a business model at all, but in light of not really having a profitable business model, it makes total sense for them to exit."

Kickstarter backers

Oculus Rift's development was possible thanks to crowdfunding - 9,522 backers pledged $2,437,429 (£1.5m) to get the product off the ground.

Many of the product's early backers returned to the fund-raising page to give their opinions on the buyout.

"Shame on you Palmer, shame on you," wrote user Xod, referring to Palmer Luckey, Oculus VR's founder.

Oculus Rift was created thanks to crowdfunding

"A terrible move indeed, I'm so upset at the idea that this great community of generous people kickstarted Facebook. Believing you'll keep full control on Oculus and the Rift is very naive."

Another user, Drew Madson, wrote: "I backed this concept in the hopes they'd make something wonderful. Sadly all they did was make themselves wonderfully rich."

But others were more optimistic, and congratulated the team on the sale.

"It's going to take significant resources to make VR truly mainstream," wrote backer Jeff McMorris.

"I am not sure why everyone's so upset. Facebook is going to increase resources available to Oculus.

"Facebook is smart they saw the future, just like the rest of us here and bought it for two billion. They got a bargain."

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

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