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Disgusted Minecraft creator rejects Oculus Rift after Facebook acquisition

HardwareNews
by Stephanie Mlot, 27 Mar 2014News
Disgusted Minecraft creator rejects Oculus Rift after Facebook acquisition

Facebook's $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality firm Oculus VR has earned some high-profile hate mail from Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson.

Persson initially voiced his displeasure with the Facebook deal in a tweet that said he was in talks with Oculus to bring a version of Minecraft to the VR headset. "I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out," he wrote.

In a follow-up blog post, Persson praised Oculus and its high-tech Rift headset, but lamented its move to Facebook — which has "a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers," he alleged.

"Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts," he wrote. "Facebook is not a game tech company."

And while developers have certainly made a living off of social network-based titles (Candy Crush Saga, anyone?), Persson argued that most have ended up "stuck in a very unfortunate position" when Facebook morphed its platform "to better fit the social experience they were trying to build."

Facebook yesterday continued its high-roller buying spree when it announced a deal to purchase Oculus for $400 million (£241 million) in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock. If all goes well, the VR firm could pick up another $300 million (£181 million) "earn-out."

Like Facebook subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp, Oculus will continue operating independently under the leadership of the social network, which intends to expand virtual reality to platforms like communications, media and entertainment, and education.

And those are fine and dandy, according to Persson, who believes social experiences like virtual cinemas or business meetings could become one of the biggest applications of VR.

"But I don't want to work with social, I want to work with games," he said. "And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition."

Persson isn't the only one who was skeptical about this partnership. According to a Reddit post by Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, when Facebook first approached his company, he was doubtful. But as he learned more about the social network's vision and spoke with chief Mark Zuckerberg, things came into focus.

"The partnership not only made sense, but became the clear and obvious path to delivering virtual reality to everyone," Luckey wrote. "Facebook was founded with the vision of making the world a more connected place. Virtual reality is a medium that allows us to share experiences with others in ways that were never before possible."

This move also means getting a more highly developed version of the Oculus Rift out to consumers much sooner than expected. But even the promise of this new technology isn't enough to calm some fans' displeasure about the acquisition.

"What a disappointing decision to cash out even before getting [the] first consumer version out," Rift Kickstarter backer Kert Tamm wrote in a comment on the Oculus Rift Kickstarter page.

"Your selling out to Facebook is a disgrace," supporter Sergey Chubukov said. "It damages not only your reputation, but the whole of crowdfunding. I cannot put into words how betrayed I feel by this."

Many benefactors are requesting their money back, and lashing out at Luckey for "selling out" the Rift's original fan base. However, the occasional backer, like Jeff McMorris, sees a light at the end of the Facebook acquisition tunnel.

"I'm not sure why everyone's so upset. Facebook is going to increase resources available to Oculus," he wrote. "Facebook is smart, they saw the future, just like the rest of us here, and bought it for 2 billion. They got a bargain."

David Tse agreed, calling out protesters who are "not investors in the company," adding that "we simply helped create their first product by pre-ordering it."

"You may not like the deal, but you are in the same boat as everyone else who did not back the original product," Tse said. "You have no extra entitlements or rights because you are a backer. You should not feel personally insulted by this deal. … This move is not a big f**k you, it's a decision they made as a company to grow and create the best VR products they can for us."

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