Oculus Rift Buyout Leads To Torrent Of Anger On Kickstarter

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Oculus Rift Buyout Leads To Torrent Of Anger On Kickstarter

Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift Kickstarter page is being flooded with negative comments from backers unhappy about yesterday's acquisition by Facebook.

The big news yesterday was Facebook's acquisition of Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift headset, for two bazillion dollars - that's $400 million in cash and $1.6 billion in Facebook common stock. It was an utter surprise to virtually everyone, even those normally tuned in to such things; today's reaction to the deal among Oculus Rift Kickstarter backers, on the other hand, is really no surprise at all.

Notch, the creator of Minecraft, may be the most high-profile Oculus Rift backer to feel burned, but he's hardly alone. Dozens of comments have been posted on the Kickstarter page and while a few of them support the deal (or at least manage to force highly-cautious optimism), the vast majority are steadfastly against it.

"I would have NEVER given a single cent of my money to Oculus if I had known you were going to sell out to Facebook. You sold all of us out," one backer wrote. "I hope this backfires horribly for Oculus and Facebook. I will personally discourage absolutely anyone I know from buying what was once an indie dream and is now a soulless corporate cash cow."

"You selling out to Facebook is a disgrace. It damages not only your reputation, but the whole of crowdfunding. I cannot put into words how betrayed I feel by this," another said.

A number of backers also say they want their money back, although it's hard to say whether they intend to seriously pursue a refund - or what chance they'd have of actually getting one. It seems unlikely, although the suggestion that Oculus "could" or "should" offer some sort of compensation to backers on moral grounds is being bandied about as well.

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to happen either, though, as Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey is still selling the merits of the deal on Reddit, where he said the acquisition will enable the company to "greatly lower" the price of the Rift and that he's "100% certain that most people will see why this is a good deal in the long term."

Source: Kickstarter

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This reaction was a given. Did anyone think most people would be ok to pour their money into the OR only to have Facebook to come out of nowhere like a smack to the face and scoop it up?
This has always been a downside of kickstarter, if you put money into a project there's no 100% guarantee the end result is what you funded for. Pretty sure people won't get a refund either, even if they are serious about it.

I don't use facebook because they creep me out and I don't like to have their ads shoved in my face, and that's a free service. Why would I pay hundreds of dollars to enable them to spy on me and shove ads in my face even more literally?

So glad I didn't fund this. I'd join all the people calling Carmack a POS for selling out, but I'm pretty sure for a billion dollars I would have sold out to.

...the acquisition will enable the company to "greatly lower" the price of the Rift ...

It was my understanding that the Oculus Rift was running pretty close to at-cost already. The only two ways I can see its price dropping would be using economies-of-scale (ie require every Facebook user to buy one so the production-cost-per-unit drops) or use the hardware as a loss-leader to generate income in other ways (ie advertising, microtransactions, etc).

Either way, the original mission statement for the Oculus Rift (create an affordable VR headset for PC gamers) has been completely discarded at this point.

Ratty:
I don't use facebook because they creep me out and I don't like to have their ads shoved in my face, and that's a free service. Why would I pay hundreds of dollars to enable them to shove ads in my face even more?

So glad I didn't fund this. I'd call Carmack a POS for selling out like this, but I'm pretty sure for 2 billion dollars I would have sold out to.

What makes you think John Carmack had anything to do with this?

PrinceOfShapeir:

Ratty:
I don't use facebook because they creep me out and I don't like to have their ads shoved in my face, and that's a free service. Why would I pay hundreds of dollars to enable them to shove ads in my face even more?

So glad I didn't fund this. I'd call Carmack a POS for selling out like this, but I'm pretty sure for 2 billion dollars I would have sold out to.

What makes you think John Carmack had anything to do with this?

He's not complaining about it https://twitter.com/ID_AA_Carmack so I assume he was ok with the deal. And his name being attached was certainly what led a lot of people to donate to the Kickstarter.

The question is whether or not this will hinder development of the actual technology.

I'm personally not a fan of the RIFT and highly doubt it will get anywhere in mainstream gaming due to it's sheer awkwardness and niche appeal, but I can respect attempts made into unexplored grounds (even if it's for giggles).

Oh well.

All aboard the Morpheus train!

I really think that Facebook overpaid for this. The Oculus is cool and all, but it isn't 2 billion dollars cool. Virtual reality sets like that are probably going to be a fairly common thing in the future, but the tech is at least 5 years of R&D away from being viable beyond a very small, niche audience, if not longer than that. They need to miniaturize the technology, make it cheaper, and figure out how to do compelling games on it (thins like EVE Valkyrie is a good first-step though) before it becomes a 2 billion dollar idea. In its current form, it's a very neat concept, and a pretty cool working prototype, but that's about it.

yeah, i figured this would happen. i don't understand, why didn't oculus just go to facebook in the first place for its money? what seems to have happened here is that the crowdfunders essentially served as a corporate commercial, calling attention to the product so that it could be sold to a larger entity when it gained enough attention. i'd be pissed if i were one of the backers, and refunds on this ground should be mandatory to all who ask for one. they can certainly afford to offer refunds now.

Kickstarter and comparable platforms need a contract clause for something like this.
I'd suggest that if a company gets "bought", it either pays out the backers (money back) or even gives them a small share.
Of course up to now they only have to provide the rewards but there needs to be something like this for future cases. So it wouldn't change anything for the Oculus but it'd change a little for future kickstarters.

Currently, backers are basically donators. I don't think they want to be considered as full investors but something in-between would be good, I think.

Ratty:

PrinceOfShapeir:

Ratty:
I don't use facebook because they creep me out and I don't like to have their ads shoved in my face, and that's a free service. Why would I pay hundreds of dollars to enable them to shove ads in my face even more?

So glad I didn't fund this. I'd call Carmack a POS for selling out like this, but I'm pretty sure for 2 billion dollars I would have sold out to.

What makes you think John Carmack had anything to do with this?

He's not complaining about it https://twitter.com/ID_AA_Carmack so I assume he was ok with the deal. And his name being attached was certainly what led a lot of people to donate to the Kickstarter.

Carmack is just the CTO, he probably doesn't have much of a voice on this. Even if he did, this doesn't affect his job that much.

Well of course they're pissed off about this deal. Why the hell did they bother paying up with their own cash if some mega-corp like Facebook is just going to come in with $400 million anyways? That literally defeats the entire purpose behind crowdfunding, and essentially means that everyone that backed the Oculus just pissed (x) amount of money away.

Toadfish1:
Oh well.

All aboard the Morpheus train!

Yes, let's all get hyped for the cheap knock-off VR headset that runs on closed platform with inferior specs.

I am really not ok with this. Mark Zuckerberg said that he believes that VR is going to be the next great social platform, which to me just seems to scream that gaming is going to be left by the wayside. Everyone keeps saying how the Oculus Rift is the next step in immersion, but how immersive is it going to be when you put it on and suddenly all you see is 50 posts about how "Tom is thinking about buying a new shirt!" and targeted advertisements for If you Like Video Games...

I was really interested in the Oculus Rift, but now I'm going to stay as far away as possible until I see how much Facebook will ruin it.

And just like that, the fad of crowdfunding was ended.

It shocks me how a company could go full 180 on its audience like that. Trading the reserved, tech-wiz loners for the casual selfie audience. Not to mention going from open platform to a, if Facebook's past transgressions are anything to go by, very-closed platform with ads in mind and has a tendency to call out the lawyers if a remotely similar rears its head.

How will it affect the backers, though?

Bazaalmon:
Mark Zuckerberg said that he believes that VR is going to be the next great social platform...

Here's something else Zuckerberg has said:

"We're clearly not a hardware company. We're not gonna try to make a profit off of the devices long term. We view this as a software and services thing, where if we can make it so that this becomes a network where people can be communicating and buying things and virtual goods, and there might be advertising in the world, but we need to figure that out down the line."

From: http://www.shareholder.com/visitors/event/build3/stage/stage.cfm?mediaid=63723&mediauserid=0

So they're definitely planning on using the OR as a loss-leader.

Captcha: need a vacation?

Yes, I do, Captcha.

Captcha: add 5 more friends to receive vacation.

Fuck you, Captcha.

Ratty:
He's not complaining about it https://twitter.com/ID_AA_Carmack so I assume he was ok with the deal. And his name being attached was certainly what led a lot of people to donate to the Kickstarter.

Carmack joined Oculus VR in August 2013, almost a full year after the Oculus Rift Kickstarter closed. He had absolutely nothing to do with it.

I just can't get mad about this. It is certainly nothing I would have predicted, but that does not make this bad. I mean, the Oculus Rift was never going to be anything but an expensive toy for tech heads before. This buyout brings with it the actual possibility of wide spread distribution and use of VR tech. That means advancement of the hardware and a far greater library of software.

This is probably the best possible thing that could have happened to advance the technology. If you actually believe that VR tech is worth while this is good news.

I've seen both sides of the argument. And kickstarter remains a way to donate money. It's not investing money. You donate, and you are promised a thing. If the terms of the promise are not covered in the kickstarter, then...they're free to jet the project to the moon as long as you get the thing in your promise, I'm sorry.

I could be appalled to find out something about a charity post donation, sadly, I'm not going to get that money back.

And this is where things like investment and protections and all sorts of litigation complexities arise and might ruin kickstarter forever, which I'd really like to not see happen.

Your faith was misplaced, please get over your burn.

RJ 17:
Well of course they're pissed off about this deal. Why the hell did they bother paying up with their own cash if some mega-corp like Facebook is just going to come in with $400 million anyways? That literally defeats the entire purpose behind crowdfunding, and essentially means that everyone that backed the Oculus just pissed (x) amount of money away.

I don't see how you (and a lot of other people) come to that conclusion. No Kickstarter backing means no product, which means no buyout - you can't have one without the other. And do you really expect companies like Oculus to attenuate their success to a level you find successful? You want it to be a hit so your money isn't wasted on a failed, dead-end product, but not so much of a hit that it'll attract bigger players with money to throw around?

People on Kickstarter paid to support the development of the headset in exchange for set rewards, which they will receive. Nothing has changed. So why the anger?

Andy Chalk:

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to happen either, though, as Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey is still selling the merits of the deal on Reddit, where he said the acquisition will enable the company to "greatly lower" the price of the Rift and that he's "100% certain that most people will see why this is a good deal in the long term."

But for who, Mr. Luckey? For who?

Certainly not the consumers. After all, we're talking about Facebook here. A company that routinely faces (legitimate) criticism for privacy violations, data mining, strong-arm tactics, sleazy business dealings, and destroying the competition through buy-outs and acquisitions.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sigh......

I had such high hopes for the Rift. And I certainly wasn't the only one. Many influential forces within the gaming and other tech industries did as well. Hell, even NASA was using early builds of the thing!

But now? That hope is lost. There is almost no chance this thing will remain an open-source open-platform. Which, quite honestly, was one of it's best selling points.

Oh well. Maybe this latest move will force Valve and others to pursue their own work into VR rather than just collaborating with Oculus.

"greatly lower the price of the Rift"

Through gratuitous use of embedded advertising and data mining probably.

ShakerSilver:

Toadfish1:
Oh well.

All aboard the Morpheus train!

Yes, let's all get hyped for the cheap knock-off VR headset that runs on closed platform with inferior specs.

Cheap knockoff?, especially when Sony's has been in the making long before the Rift?, I suppose to the uneducated (let alone Sony recently talking about it) but it's by no means a cheap knockoff and the Rift compared to the money it has now was effectively cheap by the new definition with the money now involved.

People love Sony's VR and are hyped for it, I know I'm moderately happy for it but by no means was I super duper over the moon and back hyped for the Rift or Morpheus... dunno why we should be since the Rift still isn't fully polished and still isn't anywhere near popular with the public, if anything it;s popular with the super niche.

But hey I know what you're getting at as a PC player and that's fine but I'm going to wait and see before judging the Rift and Morpheus come out to the public, after all it's better to be widespread for VR than say to only 1000 people.

ShakerSilver:
Yes, let's all get hyped for the cheap knock-off VR headset that runs on closed platform with inferior specs.

You may be right about everything else, but I wouldn't call it a knock-off. It was in development for years before Oculus even did their Kickstarter.

rcs619:
I really think that Facebook overpaid for this. The Oculus is cool and all, but it isn't 2 billion dollars cool. Virtual reality sets like that are probably going to be a fairly common thing in the future, but the tech is at least 5 years of R&D away from being viable beyond a very small, niche audience, if not longer than that. They need to miniaturize the technology, make it cheaper, and figure out how to do compelling games on it (thins like EVE Valkyrie is a good first-step though) before it becomes a 2 billion dollar idea. In its current form, it's a very neat concept, and a pretty cool working prototype, but that's about it.

This is Facebook. They paid 20 billion dollars for a shitty messenger app... In comparison two billion almost seems an insulting price for Oculus.

I pretty much called this reaction, and as I said yesterday, the best solution is to simply pass on the "profit" at least in some small way to the original backers.

2.5 mill was collected, pay back 25 mill (10x the original investment) to the backers, and thank them for helping to get the project where it is today.

That still leaves a HUGE profit for the company, and would probably help prevent so many angry backers.

That is the right thing to do (and no, i'm not a backer).

It's not mandatory, nothing legally says they need to do it etc, but heck, due to the efforts of the backers, they just made freaking 2 BILLION dollars. Even if you only count the 400 million for now, you still would have a massive profit for every single employee....even if you tossed 25 mill to the backers as a thank you.

Doubt it'll happen, but it's what I would do.

Andy Chalk:

Ratty:
He's not complaining about it https://twitter.com/ID_AA_Carmack so I assume he was ok with the deal. And his name being attached was certainly what led a lot of people to donate to the Kickstarter.

Carmack joined Oculus VR in August 2013, almost a full year after the Oculus Rift Kickstarter closed. He had absolutely nothing to do with it.

I see. Well I'd been misinformed about that. I'm still seeing a lot of hate thrown his way though, justified or not. Like I said though I don't feel I can pass judgement on him (or anyone else at the company for that matter) for this deal. It's just too much money to turn down. It would be hypocritical of me to criticize them for making the same decision I would probably make myself.

On the other hand, I can understand how a lot of backers might feel upset or even betrayed now that the system they thought was going to be fairly open will almost certainly be more tightly controlled and heavily monetized through ads.

What a mess this has turned into. Ball's in your court, Facebook. Only time will tell.

*shrug*

It's hardware. It will be good, or it will not. That is the only basis on which I will make my purchasing decision. I certainly don't give a shit whose logo is pasted on the front of the damn thing. In all likelihood, Facebook will find a lot of profitable uses for VR that the guys at Oculus might not have thought of, but as long as it doesn't interfere with my intended use of the Rift(playing games), I don't give a shit about that either.

Shadow-Phoenix:
snip

My point was there's no real reason to be hyped over it. The specs they released for it are less impressive than the 2nd Oculus Dev Kit due in July, so it will no doubt seem even more unimpressive once the Rift is finalized and released commercially. John Carmack himself said that you need at least a stable 90 fps to prevent people from experiencing motion sickness while using the Rift, and the PS4 can barely reach 60 fps at a 1080p resolution, let alone keep it stable with 2 output displays. Either people are going to be playing through screen doors at 480p with their Morpheus, or their going to get sick from choppy frame rates right in their face.

Meh, I'm out of anger on the issue. They were only waiting to be bought out, they didn't care by who. It was not going to be released on the consumer level without a buyout. All we can do is hope that it doesn't get fucked up. My fear is that it's only going to be priced outside the ability for the average consumer to afford, which means you might as not buy it at all because the support will be really low and it won't amount to anything but an expensive novelty.

rofltehcat:
Kickstarter and comparable platforms need a contract clause for something like this.
I'd suggest that if a company gets "bought", it either pays out the backers (money back) or even gives them a small share.
Of course up to now they only have to provide the rewards but there needs to be something like this for future cases. So it wouldn't change anything for the Oculus but it'd change a little for future kickstarters.

Currently, backers are basically donators. I don't think they want to be considered as full investors but something in-between would be good, I think.

Actually, I don't think it does.
People are willingly donating money towards a project, knowing full well that they will not have any control over the final product. Donators on Kickstarter and similar services are not investors, and I don't think that making a "backer" legally entitled to anything is a very good idea.

I understand why people are angry/upset, not everyone likes or trusts Facebook, and one can criticise it and other seemingly 'dodgy' corps but its the whole 'coporation is evil' shtick that annoys me - either stop buying anything funded or produced by a corporation or stop lumping them all together and those that make deals with them as 'sell-outs'. Many don't seem to have noticed but corporations tend to run a lot of things around this little place we call Earth. Its certainly not perfect, but it ain't no 19th century either; corporations are not the spawn of satan.

I've got a few Kickstarter projects that have latterly gotten backing / signed up with another company. As long as I get what I kickstartered, I'm fine with it. (Note: I didn't back OR, and one project I'm thinking of specifically hasn't given me what I backed yet, so take some salt with my opinion.)

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