Undoubtedly one of the biggest stories of 2014 in both virtual reality (VR) and wider technology has been social giant Facebook’s $2 billion USD acquisition of Oculus VR, the creator of the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD). The deal was met with much controversy at first, although now seems to have majorly benefitted Oculus VR, which has more than doubled in size and hosted events such as the Oculus Connect developer conference. Facebook might seem like an unlikely partner, but Oculus VR had already ruled out some other high-profile companies before the deal.
Speaking at Business Insider‘s Ignition conference this week, CEO Brendan Iribe revealed that the company had effectively ruled out partnerships with both Microsoft and Sony before the deal had been made, and very much doubted it would side with Google, either. “If we were going to partner with somebody, because this is a long road ahead … we were thinking the whole time that we wouldn’t partner with Microsoft or Sony,” Iribe said. Of course, Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) has its own HMD in Project Morpheus and Microsoft is rumoured to be working on its VR kit.
As for Google, Iribe explained that Oculus VR didn’t know how much time it would receive from the leadership team, thus doubted a partnership might work. Instead, the team decided to go with Facebook due to VR’s potential to grow into a new social platform. The company has stressed time and again that this deal isn’t changing Oculus VR’s short-term plans and that it remains committed to the videogame industry, but looks forward to a time in which people can communicate face-to-face from across the world using VR.
It’s currently not clear when the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift will arrive, although Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that it will need to shift between 50 to 100 million units to become ‘meaningful’. VRFocus will continue to follow the Oculus Rift closely, reporting back with any further updates on the device’s progress.