Carmack Speaks Up on Facebook's Oculus Rift Purchase

By Luke Caulfield , Updated Mar 31, 2014 10:41 AM EDT
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It's been almost a week since Facebook's $2 billion acquisition of the Oculus Rift VR headset, and we've heard points from both developers and fans on both the pro and con sides of the deal. But now, FPS godfather and Rift CTO John Carmack has finally come forward to offer his own musings on the matter at hand.

Interestingly, it wasn't in any "official" capacity that Carmack finally shared his thoughts, but rather, on an obscure blog penned by Peter Berkman, guitarist for the chiptune band Anamanaguchi. Authored last week, the post "Wrong and Right Reasons To Be Upset About Oculus" caught Carmack's attention, and responded to a number of points the article raised with the following:

"I share some of your misgivings about companies 'existing and operating only to be acquired'. I am a true believer in market economies, and the magic of trade being a positive sum game is most obvious with repeated transactions at a consumer level. Company acquisitions, while still (usually) being a trade between willing parties that in theory leaves both better off, have much more of an element of speculation rather than objective assessment of value, and it definitely feels different."

"There is a case to be made for being like Valve, and trying to build a new VR ecosystem like Steam from the ground up. This is probably what most of the passionate fans wanted to see. The difference is that, for years, the industry thought Valve was nuts, and they had the field to themselves. Valve deserves all their success for having the vision and perseverance to see it through to the current state."

"VR won't be like that. The experience is too obviously powerful, and it makes converts on contact. The fairly rapid involvement of the Titans is inevitable, and the real questions were how deeply to partner, and with who."

"Honestly, I wasn't expecting Facebook (or this soon). I have zero personal background with them, and I could think of other companies that would have more obvious synergies. However, I do have reasons to believe that they get the Big Picture as I see it, and will be a powerful force towards making it happen. You don't make a commitment like they just did on a whim."

"I wasn't personally involved in any of the negotiations -- I spent an afternoon talking technology with Mark Zuckerberg, and the next week I find out that he bought Oculus." 

Given his employment with the Rift team, it's easy to snub Carmack's opinions and call them financially motivated, but he seems to be blissfully far and away from the business aspect between Facebook and Rift. Whether you agree or disagree with him, given Carmack's longstanding contributions to video games, he's earned his right to express his opinion. With his track record for innovations in the industry, his support for Facebook should at least have detractors reconsider their opinions at the very least.

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