After almost a week of silence, legendary game developer and Oculus CTO John Carmack has finally voiced his opinions on Facebook's planned acquisition of the virtual reality headset maker. Replying to a blog post by chiptune musician Peter Berkman, Carmack says he "wasn't expecting Facebook" to purchase the company he joined last August. "I wasn't personally involved in any of the negotiations," he adds, "I spent an afternoon talking technology with Mark Zuckerberg, and the next week I find out he bought Oculus."
"The real questions were how deeply to partner, and with who."
Regarding criticisms voiced by Berkman and many onlookers — chiefly that Oculus abandoned its early supporters and was operating only to be acquired — Carmack disagrees. "There is a case to be made for being like Valve, and trying to build a new ecosystem like Steam from the ground up. This is probably what most of the passionate fans wanted to see." But that comparison doesn't make sense, Carmack argues. Valve had the digital games industry to itself for years, and, as Sony proved recently, virtually reality is set to become a major industry for tech "titans" to fight over. "The real questions were how deeply to partner, and with who," says Carmack — going it alone just didn't make sense.
Why Facebook? "I could think of other companies that would have more obvious synergies. However, I do have reasons to believe that they get the big picture as I see it, and will be a powerful force towards making it happen. You don't make a commitment like they just did on the whim." Much of the backlash regarding the acquisition has centered on Facebook's business model — data mining and advertising. This isn't a concern for Carmack, who says he "just can't get very worked up about it ." While he appreciates the need for privacy, "the idea that companies are supposed to interact with you and not pay attention has never seemed sane to me ... I rather like the recommendations that Amazon gives me on each visit. Educate me. What terrible outcome is expected from this?"