Facebook made an incredible purchase three days ago, a move that attracted both positive and negative attention towards it, buying Oculus VR, the company that makes Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles. The project begun less than 2 years ago as a Kickstarter project. It was now bought by Facebook for 2 billion $.
No one seems to understand why Facebook bought Oculus VR, mostly because Mark Zuckerberg stated once that Facebook is not a hardware company. So then, why buy a hardware company? Zuckerberg sees the virtual reality as a platform for the future, this having great potential on how humans interact, or on how they socialize with each other. He gave some examples on how this virtual reality could help people, like seeing a doctor “face-to-face”, without actually being there, or having a virtual reality meeting. Giving such examples, Zuckerberg revealed his vision on how virtual reality and Facebook could combine, not changing the way Facebook works.
“Oculus has the potential to be the most social platform ever”, “Today social networks are about sharing moments, but tomorrow it will be about sharing experiences”, said Mark Zuckerberg.
Although from many points of view this acquisition is still in its infancy, and it’s rather hard to see any practical implementation of the device and Facebook anytime soon. This technology could maybe see the light of day in a few years’ time. Considering that Facebook struggled for some time with its mobile app before that became successful and usable, in addition to the fact that it refused to make an iOS version too, Facebook can’t afford to miss with this VR technology.
Knowing that the videogame industry used this technology for a couple of years now, could this mean that Facebook might now compete with the video game companies? It just might. Zuckerberg wants to make its platform as malleable as possible, trying to find new ways to insert Facebook into daily life, so why not with gaming?
But of course, the games that we have today cannot function with Oculus, a lot of them have to be rewritten and remade, then they have to be sold properly so that a buyer that uses Oculus knows where to find games that function with this device, all of this meaning that it would take some time for Facebook and Oculus to actually compete with the video game industry.
There are some issues that have to be taken care of though. First of all, there are some who are not prepared for all the privacy data that Facebook gathers or for the selling of targeting adds, which are a new thing for gaming, and people are worried that this thing could enter the industry (games being subsidized by all the data gathering and advertising). Secondly, there are those who know that Facebook can release a platform on which game could be written and then change it, raising the question if Facebook can develop something stable, something that ensures that once a platform is built, it stays unchanged for long enough. Can Facebook can do that? It’s possible, they successfully managed to do that until now through their social game platforms.
Another preoccupation concerning Facebook and Oculus together is how will the company manage to make money after such an investment. To sell the virtual reality device with an overwhelming price is not something Facebook has accustomed its users with, so the device might be given for free or for a small sum, compensating with adds that people could ignore if given something for free, looking away from the personal data that Facebook gathers as well As such, users will be willing to see ads as a trade-off for using the device that they like.
“There might be advertising in the world, but we need to figure that out down the line”, Zuckerberg said, and that he is not looking to make a profit off the sales of the devices in the long-term.