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Facebook buys Oculus Rift

by NAOMI DOSHI Staff Writer

Oculus Rift, the new virtual reality gaming headset expected to be released in late 2014 or early 2015, was acquired by Facebook on March 25, 2014.

Facebook offered Oculus VR, the company developing the headset, $400 million in cash and $1.6 billion in Facebook shares. Facebook will also pay the company an additional $300 million if they meet specific financial goals.

Oculus Rift started out as a crownfunding project on Kickstarter where almost 10,000 people contributed $2.4 million to help develop the product.

The acquisition is a major leap for both Oculus and Kickstarter because it is the highest for which a Kickstarter project has ever sold.

However, the company’s backers are not as pleased with the news.

Although the backers supplied the initial start-up amount for Oculus Rift, they are not investors in the product, so they will not gain from the sale. Instead, they simply gave Facebook a higher starting value.

The backers were never promised any rewards or refunds in case of a sale, but most of them feel that they should be refunded now that the company has gained so much.

Markus Persson, the developer of Minecraft, originally contributed to the project on Kickstarter. He initially stated that Minecraft would most likely support the product, but after hearing the news about Facebook, he withdrew.

He took to his blog, saying, “Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before… while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.”

Even those who did not donate to the Kickstarter project were disappointed by the news, resulting in a decrease in Facebook’s stock price. The overall loss was a $1.5-$1.8 billion cap.

However, some gamers do not mind the acquisition.

Freshman Natalia Dszietczyk says, “Having gaming as a part of Facebook wouldnt [sic] be so bad. There are already games on Facebook, so it wouldnt [sic] really be a problem. Also, for example like on Xbox 360, there is Xbox Live were [sic] you play with other people on games.”

Regardless of who owns the company, most are still excited for the actual product.

“I think that virtual reality would be really good for gaming and really cool. I would definitely buy it and I think a lot of people would want to buy it, too,” says freshman Alexis Vigario.

Oculus VR commented on why they partnered with Facebook, and acknowledged that their reasons might not be so obvious.

“Mark [Zuckerburg] and his team share our vision for virtual reality’s potential to transform the way we learn, share, play, and communicate,” they said in their official statement.

Facebook also seemed interested in the product because of the future possibilities it could bring to social networking. Social media is a finicky business, and platforms like Facebook always need to keep their eyes peeled for “the next big thing” if they want to avoid becoming obsolete.

Facebook has bought companies in the past to stay updated and current. In February, Facebook bought WhatsApp, a messaging app, for $19 billion, and in 2012, Facebook bought Instagram.

Even though some are apprehensive about the integration of virtual reality into Facebook, it could expand virtual reality into many other aspects and help us connect to people.

“After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side [sic] 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… Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures,” said Facebook in their official statement.

What do you think will happen to the future of gaming when it is combined with social networking?

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