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John Carmack Responds to Oculus/Facebook Criticisms

Oculus VR’s Chief Technology Officer and legendary developer John Carmack has offered comment on the recent buyout of the company to Facebook. Replying to a blog that assessed the pros and cons of the deal, Carmack provided an in-depth explanation of his own feelings towards the acquisition. Said blog was written by Peter Berkman from chiptune rock band, Anamanaguchi, arguing that there was a problem with companies today existing purely to be acquired.

OculusDK2_1“I share some of your misgivings about companies “existing and operating only to be acquired”,” Carmack noted.

“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.”

However, it’s Carmack’s belief that Oculus VR couldn’t have taken after Valve and remained an independent powerhouse company. “VR won’t be like that,” he continued. “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.”

As for the acquisition itself, the developer admitted to being surprised. “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.”

In a separate reply, Carmack noted that issues with potential data mining weren’t a factor to him. He revealed that he supports those that want to avoid observation, but noted that those people are missing opportunities and denying the benefits of data driven companies and the insights that they can deliver.

Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR was announced last week, much to the surprise of the community. Reaction to the deal has been mixed at best, although VRFocus recently asked a range of developers about their feelings towards the news and found a largely positive response. VRFocus will continue to follow every aspect of the Facebook buyout and report back with the latest.