Mar 26, 2014

Diagnosis and Denial

Facebook buys Oculus VR for $2 Billion. Internet not amused.



The End 


Dr. Cameron: That's not necessarily bad news.

Dr. Foreman: Do you ever watch "Gilligan's Island" reruns and really, really think they're going to get off the island this time?



Looks like you’re gonna be taking your Oculus with an unhealthy dose of Facebook integration in the future. If you think Linden Lab is suddenly going to stop their Oculus integration, you’re wrong. Instead, it’s safe to say that they are going to go all-in and cozy up. It’s a nice diversification strategy, looks like an easy way to flood SL with new users, and of course gives them an official social media platform to connect to.


If you listen to Zuckerberg, he’s talking about a future of immersive gaming and selling virtual goods. Who better to offer that than Second Life?


Already, Markus Persson immediately cancelled Minecraft for Oculus the moment he heard Facebook bought them out.



Mojang Tweet


So let’s recap... Oculus does a Kickstarter, raises money to build a prototype. Convinces everyone to buy that prototype dev kit and test it for them. Then they raise 100 million or so dollars in VC, explode with a bunch of hype (which everyone drank up and echoed), and still didn’t release a consumer product to the shelves. But they did announce a DK2 (Dev Kit 2) which they’ll gladly sell you. Amid all the hype, companies like Sony decide to jump on the gravy train and announce Project Morpheus for PS4 as the future of gaming.


There was, of course, a virtual reality alliance where the manufacturers were going to ensure that developers could publish their titles and it would work across all headsets... but apparently Oculus decided not to hang with the cool kids. This immediately segments the market and makes it tough on developers.


Take a wild guess how many studios are going to justify all the extra costs in cross-publishing to different headsets now, let alone platforms.


Screenshot_2 Essentially, in a recent WIRED article, they nailed it down exactly:


Why Facebook’s $2 Billion Oculus Buy Is A Bet Too Far


I bet that reads familiar to you if you’ve spent any amount of time reading this blog. Except this time... we’re talking about WIRED, an analyst from Gartner, and Jaron Lanier. You’re now far out of “whackadoodle” country and firmly back in reality. If you think any of this is wrong at this point, the only whackadoodle is you.


We also need to check you for abnormalities in cognitive thinking as a differential, just in case. Luckily, it doesn’t hurt when we poke you in the brain.


I’ve been saying this since the debut of Oculus and the hype train began (again). Actually, I keep saying this over and over again for each phase of the hype bubbles and nobody likes to listen. Damn, what the hell are they putting in your Kool-Aid, people? No... seriously. Clearly it’s stronger than these over the counter vicodin. It’s like watching a time-warp, repeating history, and nobody wants to put down the Kool-Aid long enough to actually listen. That’s some powerful denial ya’ll got there.


We’ve been through this before... you know this for a fact. Wishes, rainbows and glitter fart hopes aren’t going to change reality.


If you know the history, and you know it is repeating, then you already know how this story is going to end. VR Client –> VR Web –> VR Headset –> Repeat


Woo! Second Life is the future of virtual worlds! [crash]


Wait, no! VR in a Web Browser with WebGL and Unity is the future of - [crash]


Look! VR headsets are the futu - [crash]


Sounds suspiciously like:


ActiveWorlds is the future of the 3D Internet! [crash]


No, wait! VRML and VR in a Browser is [crash]


Hold on! Atari is launching Jaguar VR and Sega is working on a headset too! And look, VFX just released a headset for PC games compatible with - [crash]


All we really need are a couple of movies over the summer of 2014 about virtual reality like Lawnmower Man or Johnny Pneumonic. ‘Cause it ain’t over till everyone makes a buck on the wave before it busts again. Omni Treadmill, Sixaxis controllers, and all sorts of gimmicky peripherals they’re gonna sell you.


I think you’re all just really, really gullible.


With all of this crashing, we just need to add some snow and we’re closer to a realized Metaverse than we’ve ever been. We’ve certainly got the crashing part down pat.


The WIRED article nails the sentiment exactly...


VR headsets are like a trampoline. They’re fun and exhilarating once in awhile, but not every day – let alone 3-4 times a day. And just like a trampoline, few people actually own one despite how cool everyone thinks they are.


And that about sums up the market for this realistically... assuming the industry doesn’t overhype it before anything comes out, or Facebook buys out Oculus VR before they ever release a consumer model for Christmas...


That was obviously tongue in cheek.


“This is really a new social platform,” Zuckerberg said Tuesday afternoon during a conference call with analysts and reporters. “We’re making a long term bet that immersive virtual and augmented reality will become a part of people’s daily lives.” At one point, he even said that Oculus has the potential to be the “most social platform ever.”


He’s not making a long term bet. He’s grasping at straws because Google already made that long term bet with Internet of Things and Augmented Reality, while getting a monumental head start before Zuckerberg woke up one day and yelled “Oh shit! THAT’S WHAT GOOGLE WAS DOING!”


But then, calling Oculus VR the “most social platform ever” absolutely stinks of similar talk from people about Second Life and why they need to venture into social media. Which brings us back to why Facebook is in Second Life’s future full-steam ahead.


Let’s think about it for a moment.


Facebook had Cloud Party until Yahoo bought them out and closed shop. Linden Lab has been cozying up to Oculus in a way that could be reported as Stranger Danger (and so have you). So, Facebook buying out Oculus is like a jackpot to Linden Lab. Hooray! Billions of fresh souls... I mean... new users for Second Life!


Problem here is that if Facebook is desperate enough to drop $2 billion to get Oculus, then by definition Linden Lab is desperate for relevance again if they seal that unholy pact with Facebook and Oculus in full. They just need a nice pixel people sacrifice to open the gate...


You don’t need a magical weather control groundhog to know how this is going to end. But (as usual) nobody got the memo... so prepare yourself for a few years of stupidly high VR hype with headsets as everyone tries to really, really, really convince you it’s the future this time... for realsies... like when 3D TV was totally gonna be the future... and everyone was gonna use virtual worlds in a web browser... again.


Or, probably not... since most people reading this blog are already drinking that kool-aid and now think VR is about to go “mainstream”, ushering in a second golden age of... whatever they’re promising you this time. By this point you’ll believe just about anything they tell you.



For the record... I need a magical weather control groundhog. But you don’t. It’s a perk for writing this blog and keeping my sanity.



Facebook Rift










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