When it was announced that social network Behemoth, Facebook, were buying Oculus Rift in a massive deal worth an estimated $2 billion, the reaction from the gaming commuity was far from positive. Some even went on to speculate that the future would consist of living in the Matrix, hooked into mind-numbing games like Farmville and spending endless amounts of cold hard cash to make painfully slow progress in virtual reality, resorting to begging everyone for a ‘Like’.
But then, Oculus VR CEO, Brendan Iribe, sent further shock-waves throughout the internet last week when he revealed the companies future plans. He wants to build an Oculus Rift MMO.
However, this won’t just be any MMO. Iribe announced that “This is going to be an MMO where we want to put 1 billion people in VR” at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York on Tuesday.
Iribe went onto say
“I think Game Boy is an awesome platform, but I think you’ll see handheld gaming largely disrupted by the mobile market…And for VR where we want to go, connecting a billion people, do you want to be building a platform that has a billion people on it, or 10 or 20 or 50 million people…for game developers, they’re going to a have a lot more success shipping their content into…a platform that has a billion users, more than 50 million or 100 million. And consoles and gaming-targeted devices usually only get to a 50 to 100 million total audience. “
Although everything was presented in a nice, friendly way, if you read between the lines the only thing missing was Mark Zuckerberg sat in a large chair stroking a cat, complete with evil laughter.
Essentially, we are talking about two companies planning to tempt one billion people to strap buckets to their heads and alienate themselves from their surroundings. As we all know, MMOs usually mean a subscription for the privilege too.
Iribe continued by telling attendees
“With Oculus … if you’re putting on this pair of glasses and you’re going to be face-to-face communicating with people and you’re going to be jumping in and out of this new set of virtual worlds, this was going to be the largest MMO (massively multiuser online community) ever made,”
I must admit, the whole project feels slightly creepy to me.
Ironically, last week we had a video go viral called “Look Up” pointing out everything wrong with internet culture and how we are all looking down at screens rather than each other. The fact you had to look at a screen to watch the video in the first place seemed lost on most people sharing.
However, the video also made me question my suspicion of the Oculus MMO project. All this talk of how we are no longer talking to each other could also be seen as nonsense. Even by writing this short article, I am hypothetically opening up communication channels with thousands of people from all over the world. So what is all the fuss about?
Any Spider-Man fan will tell you that ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ and in many respects, an MMO with a potential user-base of one billion people sounds quite intriguing,
Still, i’m more than a little suspicious of the true motives behind this, and a global community wearing Virtual Reality headsets, oblivious to their surroundings, sounds damn right creepy and too much like numerous sci-fi movies that I grew up with, to me.
To pitch such a game is one thing, but to actually convince one billion people it’s worth buying into a huge virtual reality game is many years from becoming an actual reality. So behind the controversial headlines, there is very little evidence to suggest this is going to happen anytime soon, but there is a clear intention and over-arching vision for the future of Rift. Brendan Iribe has already exposed his master plan and unwittingly shared it with the rest of the world. The ultimate end-game is to have one billion people buying their hardware and subscribing to Rift/Facebook services. They want 1/6th of the world’s population invested in Virtual Reality.
The Facebook acquisition is certainly starting to make more sense.
What do you think of these plans? Does the sound of a modern take on Second Life excite or horrify you?
Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.