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Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey called Facebook's $2.2 billion purchase of his virtual reality headset company a move that will help transform industries. Some fans weren't so upbeat.
Negative feedback for Facebook's latest buy
Virtual reality company Oculus used Kickstarter to raise $2.4 million. Facebook has just bought the company for $2 billion, upsetting some of the original backers.
Across Twitter, gaming websites and Oculus' own blog, players and developers panned the company's decision to sell for least $US400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook. One was an investor in the company's Kickstarter fundraising campaign and said he was betrayed.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Luckey said on Tuesday that joining forces will push virtual reality into the mainstream. The feedback suggests they'll have to convince game developers that Oculus will still be a great place for their titles after the deal is done, particularly among those counting on working with a smaller, start-up-stage company.
"Good job pulling one over on us Oculus," wrote Caleb Benningfield, who identified himself as a software developer at the healthcare company IMS Health/Appature, in comments on the Oculus blog where the deal was announced.
Swedish game programmer Markus Persson, who created the popular block-building and busting title Minecraft for computers and mobile devices, voiced his displeasure in a post on Twitter.
"We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus," Persson said. "I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out."
We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.— Markus Persson (@notch) March 25, 2014
A Facebook spokeswoman didn't return a call seeking comment.
Oculus unveiled its first headset in June 2012. The stridency of some comments may be tied to the $US2.44 million the company raised from gamers and virtual reality enthusiasts on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter in August of that year. In all, the company has attracted more than $US91 million.
"I did not chip in 10 grand to see a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition," said Persson in another tweet that later appeared to have been deleted. "I definitely want to be part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook."
The company recently began selling an updated version of the Oculus Rift headset to developers for $US350 and demonstrated the technology last week at the Game Developers Conference.
After years of discussion about the merits of virtual reality, the topic has moved to the fore with the development of small, inexpensive sensors that track a user's movements.
The gear also has enough processing power to place a viewer or player in a virtual situation with little of the lag that has caused widespread nausea in earlier attempts.
Oculus "just seemed like an escape from monster corporation crap and Facebook likes and Candy Crushes," said Jared Cate, a game developer at San Francisco-based TinyCo.
The negative commentary, if it turns into something more, could help Sony in its efforts to develop a virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4 console. The company last week began demonstrating games for its Project Morpheus gear.
Sony declined to comment on the Oculus acquisition, according to a spokeswoman.
Game industry stalwarts could change their minds if the deal advances virtual reality technology, according to Bertrand Schmitt, CEO of game industry tracking company App Annie.
"Gaming technology pushed the boundaries of where things are going, and a game-focused company like Oculus represents a stepping stone towards a broader application of virtual reality."