It looks as if the Facebook and Oculus deal already has its first casualty. Minecraft mastermind Markus "Notch" Persson has said that he'll no longer be developing his game for the Rift after Zuckerberg's purchase. "We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus," he tweeted. "I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out." Persson continues on his blog that, while social aspects could be one of VR's biggest applications, he doesn't want to work with social experiences -- he wants to work with games. Beyond that, he doesn't see the social network as a stable platform, and won't work with it in any form as such.
If you were dead-set on traversing a pixelated Great Britain in VR, it's looking like you might have to settle for the hacked PC version for now. All isn't lost, though. Minecraft's already been announced as a PlayStation 4 title and the wraps recently came off Sony's Project Morpheus headset -- it could possibly show up there. That arguably one of the biggest indie developers (and one of Oculus' earliest supporters), however, has cancelled a project the scale of Minecraft is pretty major. What do others in the indie scene make of the news, though? Those we spoke to actually seemed pretty happy about it.
Update: John Carmack has also tweeted about the sale, saying "I am coding right now, just like I was last week." Check after the the break for more of his statements on the matter.
The developer behind the Rift's highest profile game, and the one that Oculus trots out time and again when there's new hardware to show off (EVE: Valkyrie), has nothing but praise.
"We're very excited for our friends and colleagues at Oculus," David Reid, CCP Games' CMO told us. "We share their vision about the future of VR and gaming and are looking forward to participating in the consumer launch of the Oculus Rift with EVE: Valkyrie."
"I think this is a smart move for Oculus," Rami Ismail of Vlambeer told us. The developer behind Ridiculous Fishing, and, most recently, Luftrausers, said that while Oculus is well known on the tech scene, it needs a backer with a household name now that Sony has entered the VR space. "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."
There's no way a massive influx of cash wouldn't change the company, but if anything it should be beneficial. Oculus VR isn't keen on changing its Kickstarter-and-duct-tape past, but the future likely looks very different for the firm.
"They've moved from scrappy-ish startup focused on building and refining a head-mounted display to... what?" asked Dejobaan's Ichiro Lambe. "Maybe in five years, I'll be sitting at a virtual table with my Japanese cousin, whom I haven't seen since 1982; and we'll be speaking to each other about old times through real-time spoken machine translation.
"That's the kind of stuff that technological advancement has been pointing to recently, and I love it," the AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! dev told us.
The general consensus among those we've talked to is that Facebook's investment is ultimately good for Oculus. This willl get the tech in front of more users and could increase the awareness of a game that uses it. Hot Blooded Games' CFO Dave Oshry has visited the Oculus offices and says he's seen the outfit's latest versions of the technology (his team is working on an unannounced VR-enabled game); knowing the company's future plans has him incredibly excited.
"No acquisition can change my mind about that," he told us. "I've always encountered resistance from people who think VR tech 'isn't there yet' or that it's 'just another fad.' When you've seen what I've seen -- you become a believer."
Oshry, whose previous work includes the recent Rise of the Triad reboot, said he's sure that Oculus wouldn't have made this deal if it wasn't in the best interest of everyone in the company, either. After all, what's good for Oculus should be good for developers and, most importantly, be good for the end user.
"Oculus is made up of some of the best and brightest minds in all of tech, and I believe in their ability to make the right decisions moving forward. Regardless of who owns the company, it's the technology that I believe in."
Indie publishers are bullish, too. "Ultimately if Facebook allows the Oculus platform to get into the hands of more people, gamers or otherwise, then this acquisition will prove to be a good thing," Devolver Digital (of Hotline Miami fame) partner Nigel Lowrie told us. "We've seen what this next generation of VR technology from Oculus, Valve and Sony can do and how it can change the game. Anything that achieves a greater awareness and broader reach for video games as mainstream entertainment, and pushes new technology forward in new ways is ace."
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.
- John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) March 26, 2014
John Carmack left the company he co-founded, iD Software to become the Chief Technical Officer of Oculus VR, so what does he think of this development? In several tweets, he said he's still coding right now, just as he was last week, and seems unconcerned about the future of the company. Where Notch is wary of Facebook, Carmack says he "has respect for the scale Facebook operates at" and thinks the deal will help VR avoid possible scaling crisis in the future. Like Zuckerberg, he envisions a cyberspace that matches the scale of Facebook's billion+ users. We'll have to wait for a more detailed response and interestingly, it might come on Facebook -- Carmack says he might open an account now.
I have a deep respect for the technical scale that FB operates at. The cyberspace we want for VR will be at this scale.
- John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) March 26, 2014