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Backers demand refund

Written by: Joseph Albahari

With the help of generous Kickstarter donations, tech company Oculus VR was set to revolutionize the world of gaming. But in March, much to the dismay of the Internet, Facebook decided to buy Oculus VR for $2 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, commented on the deal after it was made public.

“After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences,” Zuckerberg said. “Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face−just by putting on goggles in your home.”

Oculus VR was created in 2012 after a successful Kickstarter campaign; Kickstarter is a website dedicated to donation-based crowdfunding for creative projects.

Through crowdfunding, Oculus VR raised over $2 million, which was well above the $250,000 goal. Palmer Luckey and Brenden Iribe founded Oculus VR and the concepts that the Kickstarter campaign was trying to back.

Anyone who donated $300 or more to the Kickstarter project received a prototype of the Oculus Rift−a headset gaming device−and a game to play on it. Over 5,000 people backed the device with $300.

The company had been working on the Rift, and once the device was completely funded and created, Oculus VR sent development kits to game designers so they could begin making games for the Rift. Many developers were interested in using the Rift with their games, including Valve and Mojang, the developer of Minecraft.

Rift works by having the character in the game mimic the head movements of the user.

The same day of the deal, Markus “Notch” Persson, the creator of Minecraft, tweeted about the transaction.

“We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus,” Persson said. “I just canceled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.”

This was the first major developer to back out of talks with Oculus VR.

Backers of the original Kickstarter project feel betrayed because of Facebook’s newfound control over their efforts and are demanding their money back.

Also in March, around the same time as the Oculus/Facebook deal, Sony unveiled its own virtual-reality headset that is currently called Project Morpheus. Little information has been given about this project except for the headset design.



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