Modern technology has made gaming more exciting. We now have improved versions of previous gaming consoles like the PS5, Nintendo Switch, Gaming PCs, and more. But when it comes to doing something different, something out of this world – quite literally- virtual reality headsets take the crown.
In Virtual Reality, users are practically transported to a virtual environment. They can see things in the first person, and their actions in real life are replicated inside the virtual space. Advanced technology can even make gamers feel a sense of touch.
Virtual Reality games’ main selling point is how immersive they are. People usually play video games to escape the real world. They want to, at least for a short period, forget about their worries. VR fulfills that desire by bringing them to “another dimension.”
Facebook Acquiring Oculus VR
There are many brands that produce VR headsets. Among them is Oculus, most known for its Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest lines.
Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Michael Antonov, and Nate Mitchell founded Oculus VR in July 2012. They launched a Kickstarter campaign in August 2012 to make virtual reality headsets available to developers.
The concept became such a hit that its success surpassed the founder’s expectations. They aimed to raise $250,000 but ended up making $2.4 million. That was ten times the original goal.
Facebook, the social media giant, seems to want to own everything on the internet. So, in 2014, Facebook bought Oculus for $2.3 billion in cash and stock.
Many are skeptical about this. Many social media users claim that Facebook ruins what it touches. For instance, Instagram is now losing its identity, making many users quit.
Promises Were Broken
Facebook’s recent changes in the Oculus are already not warmly received. For instance, even when Oculus was sold to Facebook, Palmer Luckey said users would not need a Facebook account. However, Facebook broke that promise in October last year. Oculus users now need to log in to their Facebook account.
Facebook was “kind” enough to give two options, however. Users can merge their Oculus and Facebook accounts or keep using their Oculus accounts. Doing the latter will lose functionality, though. Furthermore, Facebook will end support for Oculus accounts in January 2023. That said, there is no reason not to merge accounts.
Of course, that caused outrage, especially since there are controversies regarding privacy on Facebook. The users called out Palmer for betraying them.
Palmer replied that Facebook approved his statement from 2016, and he also believed that will continue to be the case. He was not lying when he said it. Unfortunately, Facebook decided to break that promise.
Needless to say, there is already friction between Oculus and its user base. Now, Facebook announces a new feature that might make them quit for good.
Ads on Oculus
Don’t you hate it when you are watching a video on Facebook, and then an ad suddenly pops up? They interrupt what you are doing, which reduces the enjoyment. If they are like that in videos, they are more annoying in games. Now, imagine them in virtual reality. Do you think they fit? Probably, you don’t.
First of all, ads will remove the sense of realism. While virtual spaces are obviously not real, they make the player feel like they are. They do not feel like they are in a game when playing in virtual reality. Instead, they feel like they are in another world. If ads pop up every now and then, it will ruin the experience. They will stick out like sore thumbs, which will make the VR games less immersive.
Even Oculus founder Palmer Luckey knows this. So, he promised the Oculus would never target users with ads. Poor him, Facebook seems to enjoy breaking his promises. Apparently, the platform does not think ads are that bad for VR. It recently announced that ads would be coming to the Oculus headset in a trial. The test will start with Resolution Games’ shooter game Blaston. While that was the only named game so far, Facebook says there will be a couple more in the upcoming weeks.
Oculus users aggressively fought against this. Players “review bombed” Blaston both on the Oculus Store and PC gaming store Steam to express their dismay. They also accused handing the future over to a deranged billionaire and his ad-fuelled dreams”. Furthermore, some players asked for a refund.
Resolution Games pulled out of the testing after the backlash. It said that Blaston is not the best fit for in-game advertising. However, the company says that Bait!, one of its free games, may have ads in the future.
Admittedly, Facebook brought VR into the mainstream. But, where it is bringing VR now is a subject of debate.
Why Add Ads? To Get More Facebook Followers
While almost every gamer hates ads, it is important to understand the other side. Developers like having in-game ads. It gives them a way to monetize, which would help in maintaining and developing their games. This is why game developers buy so many Facebook Followers to boost the success of their games.
Facebook and Oculus will also benefit from them. The companies’ headsets are more affordable than other brands. So, they need to think of different ways to profit from the products.
To convince gamers ads are not as bad as they think, Oculus published a blog. It explained how the ads could be controlled. Furthermore, Oculus assured there would be no infringement of privacy.
Still, many experts are against this decision. Jake Moore, a cybersecurity specialist, said it is a mockery of system users already purchased. They thought the system was funded via a different model, so changing it is similar to deception. Moore also said that if Facebook still wants people to be interested in VR, there is more reason to abandon in-game ads.
Richard Windsor, an analyst at Radio Free Mobile, says Facebook should be wise and “quickly kill these advertising experiments.” Right now, Facebook’s Oculus has a big chance at being the leader in the VR market. Enraging its user base should be the very last thing it would need.
Even so, Facebook says the trials are going forward. Will this decision come back to bite Facebook? Or could it somehow make gamers realize they are overreacting?