Yesterday’s news has been keeping everyone in an uproar, and many gaming fans are extremely disappointed and worried about the acquisition of Oculus Rift’s VR technology by Facebook. The unforeseen move left more than just gamers in disbelief, however. Minecraft creator Markus Persson, better known as Notch, has made a stunning announcement following the news that Facebook took over ownership of Oculus Rift. It seems that Notch is no longer willing to develop Minecraft for the anticipated VR technology, something that he had just begun to consider.
The announcement seems to reinforce the fears of many developers and gamers across the world. Notch’s skepticism about Facebook owning Oculus Rift can be regarded as the voice of skeptics all across the world. However, Notch’s reasoning might differ from the common consensus. Shortly after the announcement, the Minecraft-head made a longer post on his personal blog, explaining his decision in detail. “I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook. Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform. There’s nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me.” he explained.
His enthusiasm for Oculus Rift has been known for a long time. In fact, he had been one of the major backers of Oculus Rift back in its Kickstarter days. He already began questioning the flaws of the technology from a gamer and game developer’s perspective, foreseeing difficulties in UI integration, physics and more. However, the Minecraft creator was more than willing to work on ironing out the technology and helping it along its way to greatness. That’s of course, until Facebook took over the lead. Notch is a game developer, and while he acknowledges the benefits of a social networking platform, it’s not something he’s willing to work with or on.
“Don’t get me wrong, VR is not bad for social. In fact, I think social could become one of the biggest applications of VR. Being able to sit in a virtual living room and see your friend’s avatar? Business meetings? Virtual cinemas where you feel like you’re actually watching the movie with your friend who is seven time zones away? But I don’t want to work with social, I want to work with games.” Notch explained.
Sure, Minecraft may not have been a flagship title for the Oculus Rift VR. In fact, Notch admits that Minecraft would have been hard to adapt for such an environment. But that’s not the point, really. The point is that one of the most successful game developers in the industry has withdrawn any kind of support from the Oculus Rift. If anything, Markus Persson is an influential name, and many developers and gamers share his views. With Facebook taking over Oculus Rift (after the company has recently purchased WhatsApp for a staggering $19 billion), fans of the technology are jumping ship and throwing their support into Sony’s Project Morpheus. Why? Simply because gamers (and we’re talking true gamers, not casual social-game players) don’t want the Oculus Rift and VR technology in general to be littered with ads. They don’t want a VR Farmville, they want quality AAA titles.
It’s also worth mentioning that many backers of the initial Kickstarter fund-raiser have already become vocal and feel betrayed. The entire point of taking the Oculus Rift down the Kickstarter route was to avoid an ad-filled, corporate-controlled environment and keep the Oculus Rift true to gamers and their desires. Now that Facebook is funding the Oculus Rift, what was the point of the initial fund-raiser anyway? With this announcement shocking the gaming community, we can expect many more influential game developers to follow in Notch’s footsteps and steer far away from the Oculus Rift.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Notch can afford to dismiss the potential in the Oculus Rift, at least as far as Minecraft is concerned. The block-building adventure is doing great financially and is considered to be a universal success, and with Minecraft PS4 Edition and Minecraft Xbox One Edition well on its way, there’s no reason to indicate that the game’s success is in any danger in the immediate future.
What are your thoughts about Notch’s withdrawal? Do you think Minecraft is a big loss for the Oculus Rift? Last but not least, how do you feel about the Oculus Rift moving into Facebook territory?