Like most people who have been following the development of VR lately, and specifically Oculus, my first reaction on hearing that Facebook had bought Oculus was, 'oh hell.' A bit late now, I guess, but as an owner of a Rift DK1, I wanted to weigh in.
Shortly after the announcement, I started reading the doomsday predictions. People were saying that Zuckerberg would ruin it. They were saying that it would never be released, or that Facebook would turn it into a walled garden, or that they'd lose the vision and make it too expensive, or a thousand other things.
I just want to say that everyone I know who had something to say about this said it on Facebook. I legitimately hate to say it, but the privacy concerns I hear about Facebook tend to come from people whose personal info is actually very well cared for and who don't have anything anyone wants anyway, or who simply don't know how to use Facebook's settings. The other concerns seem to be about how bad Facebook is at providing that now-essential service all the people complaining would be even more upset about having to live without, and the essence of them seems to be about some preference for a previous layout they liked more than whatever the current one is. In the balance of things, unless you're in some silly way tempted to unplug from the amazing digital world you're the beneficiary of, Facebook really isn't all that bad. Also, news flash: to whatever extent you do now, you never had any privacy before anyway, and it's not going to go back the way it was. You are going to have to learn to deal with it.
Back to the Rift discussion.
Facebook is actually a lot like Steam. It's just a platform. It's just a vector. It's just a conduit. Facebook isn't [the horrible litigious] King.com, and they didn't create Candy Crush (of course, neither did King, but that's neither here nor there). Facebook just provides access to customers for the people who develop the apps. In the case of Oculus, the Rift may have been intended eventually to be a platform rather than just a peripheral, but now it only really needs to be what it already is: a USB device for which developers can create content that it can be used to enjoy. Facebook doesn't need to do much of anything but reap advertising revenue by placing themselves between devs, customers, and the Rift itself.
What does Oculus get? More to the point, what does the gamer get?
Well, bear in mind that so far, Oculus has done all this on something like $200 million. Given the enormous potential of this tech, and the fact that the purchase--for what in the long term will end up being a measly amount--gives Facebook essentially sole possession of the only good, cheap HMD that's ready for consumer release, what we get is the benefit of that two billion dollars. The DK2, as they say, is almost exactly the final tech. Facebook can basically pour unlimited funds into further development, and they can open up avenues to acquire the needed hardware for the commercial release. The consumer price point was going to be something like $300 (which is what I paid for my DK), and there was going to at least be another year before they were ready to go to market, and when they did, the run was probably going to be pretty limited, because they were going to have a really hard time making as many as they'd have to. Now, we may well get a better quality Rift sooner, for less money.
We also get a wider audience, a wider run, and a much, much broader set of applications. Initially, this was really only going to be PC gaming, but now all the myriad other VR applications can arrive a lot sooner. I remember reading a comment on the BBC site that was something like 'how can you do facetime with someone when half their face is covered?' If comments like that don't make the point of how far this purchase brings the news into the mainstream, then I don't know what does.
Quite frankly, as long as Facebook maintains their hands-off approach to developers on their platform, they can do whatever they want after they release the Rift. As long as it's an accessible, open, friendly USB peripheral, who gives a damn what they do--they get paid, and we get workable VR in a better, less expensive form than we otherwise might have seen.