Facebook Acquisition of Oculus Shows How to Not Keep Brand Loyalty

In Data & Analytics, Featured on App by Vaughn Highfield

Oculus Rift, Oculus, Rift, Facebook, Kickstarter, Developer Kit, Virtual Reality, VR

Oculus purchase starts to polarise fans and developers

Virtual reality is no longer a joke. Sony is part of the industry with Project Morpheus, and independent startup projects like CastAR are changing the entire VR market. However, a now-21 year-old Palmer Luckey and his Kickstarter-funded VR headset Rift has made the biggest impact. So much so, his company Oculus has just been purchased by Facebook for a cool $2 billion.

But why Facebook? What does VR have to offer Mark Zuckerberg? And how can this even vaguely correlate to the high-profile purchase of WhatsApp last month?

Well, not a whole lot actually. Zuckerberg sees Oculus and VR as the next leap for social interaction and networking. In the future people will talk, play, and visit one another through VR mediums, and he wants Facebook to be at the forefront of this movement.

That’s all well and good. Congrats to Oculus, they’re all millionaires now and the story has become the most successful Kickstarter project ever too.

But there’s something underneath all of this that’s really divided the avid games and developer community that had surrounded and supported Oculus in its early years.

Many feel that they’ve lost out through early investment in the system failing them. They haven’t seen the fruits of Oculus’ labour, with the consumer device still not being ready either. But that’s not really the issue at hand here. Most people – Minecraft developer Markus ‘Notch’ Persson included – dislike Facebook’s involvement.

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

“Facebook is not a game tech company,” added Persson. “Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.”

They’re scared of the data farming Facebook is famed for. They’re scared of the adverts they’ll undoubtedly get pushed. They’re scared of an entirely networked device that knows so much about what they do to relax when playing a game.

And the lesson to be learnt here is: don’t mess with your customer’s data.

Many of your businesses will have reams of data and customer information on file. Heck, here at Total Customer we have all the emails of anyone who subscribes to our newsletter. We’ve also got information on who downloads our various eBooks. But that’s voluntary. You’ve chosen to give us such information because you want to have such a service.

But with Facebook and Oculus, this product was designed and developed in a certain way. Now it looks as if using one will impeede on your privacy. It has fans in a rage and some developers pulling out.

While I’m sure the cool $400 million in cash and $1.6 billion in Facebook shares that Oculus got from the acquisition will easily tide over R&D costs and any lost investment from developers leaving, it’s quite a blow when your most interested customers suddenly become some of the most passionate haters out there. Still, in all high-profile buyouts there are people who become passionately against the decision, but the Internet does seem ablaze with anger right now.

Talk about that for killing your brand loyalty.


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