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Michael Abrash Joins Oculus VR Development as Chief Scientist
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Michael Abrash Joins Oculus VR Development as Chief Scientist

Deepak SharmaApril 23, 2014

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The biggest tech news this past week has been Facebook’s unexpected $2 billion acquisition of Oculus, and with that the Oculus Rift VR assets. Without a doubt there has been a lot of community backlash from donors, devs, and the general public – a lot of it unfortunately being overwhelmingly negative.

Personally, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the acquisition. People definitely have a point in their dissatisfaction of this acquisition primarily due to what Facebook has become over the past few years. Just looking at the obtrusive advertising and privacy infiltration Facebook has adopted recently is certainly enough of a reason why. Additionally, what does Facebook’s expertise in online social media even bring to VR in the first place? Probably very little; however, one thing Facebook has on their side are resources and they’ve definitely done their part in supporting other projects that were in need of funding, allowing them to carry on with their business as usual without the worries of cost.

Financially, I think Oculus did the right thing although to be honest, $2 billion seems like a low pricetag for such a promising virtual reality technology. Considering Facebook bought the messenger service WhatsApp for $19 billion, the Oculus acquisition almost seems like highway robbery – especially if you’re one of the lucky few who’ve had the opportunity to experience Oculus’s amazing VR technology. That said, as far as I know there were no indications of any other company interested in buying Oculus or investors looking to invest heavily into the company, so a quick sale to Facebook may have been the perfect move to get things going. VALVe is (or was) the only company that was rumoured to be enhancing the Oculus Rift VR headset although it’s difficult to say how far they planned to go with it.

That said, I think Facebook may end up being a great move for Oculus. Facebook definitely seems to have an idea of the impact of VALVe as they’ve recently announced the hire of Michael Abrash as Chief Scientist. For those familiar with the game development, Abrash is a renowned game programmer and technical writer, but most importantly he also worked on VR at VALVe using the Oculus. Having joined the new Facebook owned Oculus, Abrash has recently made a bold statement on the Oculus VR blog stating that “I now fully expect to spend the rest of my career pushing VR as far ahead as I can.”

It’s a great pickup by Facebook-Oculus who are undoubtedly looking to repair their reputation with the Oculus community. When Abrash joined VALVe in 2011, Gabe Newell said he had “been trying to hire Michael Abrash forever.” Aside from the face value, Abrash is a magnificent hire who may ease at least some doubts that people might having regarding Facebook’s investment into Oculus VR.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next. Oculus copycats have been popping up left and right so Oculus definitely isn’t the only company working on making the best VR units on the market. Right now, the biggest challenge to Facebook-Oculus is Sony, but it’s really just a matter of time before another company jumps on-board.

My main concern with Oculus is if it’d be anything more than a one hit success like the Wii. Back at CES 2013, I had the opportunity to try the Oculus Rift, and while it was an amazing experience for a properly-done (beta) VR headset, I’m not entirely convinced it’s the game technology of the future once its “novelty” factor wears off; only time will tell.

What do you think of Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR and their subsequent hiring of Michael Abrash? Good? Bad? Leave a comment below!

 

Source: Oculus VR

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Deepak Sharma

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