John Carmack defends Oculus Rift acquisition: VR is "too obviously powerful" for independence
The fury over Oculus VR’s acquisition by social media giant Facebook seems to have fallen to a low simmer as the raw emotion has a chance to cool. Another factor: we don’t really have any more information now than we did the day after the news broke. Aside from Oculus founder Palmer Luckey’s defense on reddit, no one inside the deal has spoken up. Now, development legend John Carmack, who famously left his position at id Software to work as Oculus’s chief technology officer, has spoken up for the first time.
“I share some of your misgivings about companies ‘existing and operating only to be acquired,’ Carmack wrote in response to a post by Peter Berkman. “There is a case to be made for being like Valve, and trying to build a new VR ecosystem like Steam from the ground up. This is probably what most of the passionate fans wanted to see. The difference is that, for years, the industry thought Valve was nuts, and they had the field to themselves. Valve deserves all their success for having the vision and perseverance to see it through to the current state.”
“VR won't be like that,” Carmack continued. “The experience is too obviously powerful, and it makes converts on contact. The fairly rapid involvement of the Titans is inevitable, and the real questions were how deeply to partner, and with who.”
Our own feelings about the acquisition ranged from shock to cautious dismay, but I’ve heard more than few Oculus fans cling to the hope that, if Carmack is on board, then there must be something great about the merger. The co-creator of Doom also mentioned that he didn’t have anything to do with the merger, saying “I wasn't personally involved in any of the negotiations—I spent an afternoon talking technology with Mark Zuckerberg, and the next week I find out that he bought Oculus."
While he did a thorough job of explaining why a merger with someone was bound to happen, he didn’t go so far enough to calm fears that Facebook would become the owner of all personal data ever exchanged through virtual reality. Facebook’s long-term goals for owning this technology are absolutely unknown to everyone who isn’t Facebook, and that’s cause enough to worry for most people.
You can read Berkman’s full blog post and the ensuing comments here.