The announcement that Facebook bought Oculus VR
felt like a suckerpunch to the gut for many ardent fans of the Oculus Rift
and all the amazing work that the Oculus team has been doing, and even more people have bemoaned the acquisition as a death knell for the once-promising VR
project. However, you can count Valve
veteran Michael Abrash among those who believe that this move is actually very much a good thing.
Abrash has left Valve and gone to work for Oculus VR as its Chief Scientist--this, just days after the acquisition was announced. In a lengthy and fascinating blog post, Abrash discussed his reason for leaving Valve and joining Oculus VR by way of his personal history with VR and those that are making it a Real Thing.
In the post, he gives a great deal of credit both to the likes of John Carmack (now also of Oculus VR) and Palmer Luckey (founder of Oculus VR) and to Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington (of Valve) for laying the groundwork for what he sees as an explosion of the great potential of VR.
“In the space of two years, a relative handful of people at two companies, none of them VR experts at the start, somehow managed to resurrect VR from the trash heap of technologies-that-never-were and make it the most exciting technology around,” wrote Abrash. To bring home his point about how much he believes in VR, he added, “We're on the cusp of what I think is not The Next Big Platform, but rather simply The Final Platform – the platform to end all platforms.”
Those are strong words, indeed. But Abrash also addressed the practical side of VR, noting that research is not so much what’s needed at this point to bring the technology to the fore, but engineering. That engineering, however, is expensive and difficult, and that’s where the deep pockets and copious resources of Facebook come into play.
“Facebook's acquisition of Oculus means that VR is going to happen in all its glory,” he said. “I now fully expect to spend the rest of my career pushing VR as far ahead as I can.”
It’s still entirely possible that Facebook will ruin Oculus VR, but it’s an encouraging sign that guys like Abrash feel so strongly that the opposite is true that they’re willing to bank their careers on it. We certainly hope he’s right.