Oculus are a company that specialise in Virtual Reality headsets. A few years back they set up a Kickstarter project and at the time need only £250,000 to get their headset, the Oculus Rift, up and running. Donations of around £2 million cemented the public’s belief that VR headsets were a thing of the future. Now it seems that belief stretches as far as Facebook, as Mark Zuckerberg’s social network company has purchased Oculus to the tune of $2 Billion.
Zuckerberg not only acknowledges the advancements the Oculus Rift can offer to the gaming industry but believes that the headset can revolutionise social media.
Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” Mark Zuckerberg said. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”
Whilst Zuckerberg stated that the gaming side of the Oculus Rift would be unaffected many who pledged donations via Kickstarter have become skeptical as to whether the original intent of the VR Headset will become lost during the course of time. Many expect this to become more of a media communication device, largely marketed at social media addicts rather than gaming enthusiasts. This cynicism was shared by Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer, when Zuckerberg reassured fans that the plans for the Oculus Rift, in terms of gaming, will remained unchanged, “it starts to feel less like reassurance and more like a desire to get this silly gaming stuff out of the way as quickly as possible.”
Having a backer like Facebook certainly carries weight but, and this is speaking purely in gaming terms, is the Oculus Rift or any VR headset just another gimmick? We can argue all day the merits of the headset in terms of quality, financial backing, revolutionary technology, marketing and public demand but is it a truly sustainable product? Wii Remotes, Kinect Sensor Bars, an NGage for christ sakes – all have become novelty and are often found collecting dust in some remote part of the house. Gaming throughout the years, no matter how many advancements or bold revolutionary devices, ultimately boils down to sitting down and playing with a controller.
In the desperate struggle for social media superiority it is the touch screen that reigns supreme. When tablets and phones dominate the social market it is hard to see how the Oculus Rift will dominate either gaming or social market. But if anyone has an inkling I’m sure it will be Zuckerberg.