Death of enthusiasm

So, Oculus Rift was purchased by the Bookface Corporation. This is not a good thing. I desired an OR above almost all other tech and was actually thinking about going ahead and grabbing the 2nd Gen Dev Kit, but now? Not so much.

You see, Facebook is a social platform. I don’t want my immersive, VR platform to be ‘social’. I’m putting on a miniature 3D television on my face to get away from people, not bring them in closer.

But my fear isn’t really that there will be popups, ads, and Facebook branding during any games although that wouldn’t surprise me to see them subsidize the cost of the hardware by forcing ads into the damned thing. No, my main fear is that you have a social media giant who will take a brilliant piece of hardware and defend it to the point of squashing any competition.

I’ve often thought that Oculus was going to be 2nd to market. They’re working so hard on getting their 1st gen so perfect that some other company, seeing that VR is making a comeback, will get in faster (with an admittedly inferior product) that gets the lion’s share of the spotlight. I also see after the OR’s release quite a few companies reverse engineering the thing and improving it faster than they can manufacture them.

This is the glory of the free market – competition will force people to make better & better products at cheaper & cheaper prices.

However, we don’t have a free market. We have crony-capitalism, and Facebook has enough cash to make the entry into the VR field rife with dangers, and thus the OR will stagnate and the technology will wither on the vine.

That’s my main fear with this purchase.

I do want VR. I played with the original dev kit, and as crappy as the visuals were, I was blown away. The sense of scale is beyond my ability to describe it here. It’s not like a 3D movie where things simply look like they’re popping in & out of the screen, you get the sensation you are actually there. When I rode the rollercoaster demo, I had to sit down because my eyes were telling me I was moving so convincingly that my balance got thrown off.

But the resolution sucked (see the demo linked above – that’s exactly what it looked like) and the lack of translation tracking (up-down, left-right movement) made it feel like your head was ‘locked’ on a tripod or something. Because they have a reason to improve those items, they did. Increased resolution + lower image persistence and the external head tracking has improved the product. However, those improvements come at a great financial cost and aren’t something you do unless you know you have to improve your product so that it will be chosen over other products.

With Facebook in the picture, I’m betting more money will be spent suing other VR startups than put into making the Oculus Rift V2 better. And that’s my big fear.

posted by by Robb Allen @
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