The company might have started small, but Oculus, the maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, is a startup that thinks big. So when Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) came to it to discuss acquiring the company, it had a choice to make. Should it stick to the path it was on, which meant using their VR headset mostly for gaming, or could the device have more widespread applications? As Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe put it at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY conference recently, the question came down to this: “Do we want to be Game Boy, or iPhone, or Android?”
“I think Game Boy is an awesome platform,” Iribe said. “But I think you’ll see handheld gaming largely disrupted by the mobile market … And for VR where we want to go, connecting a billion people, do you want to be building a platform that has a billion people on it, or 10, or 20, or 50 million people?”
When you look at it like that, it’s no surprise that Oculus sold to Facebook. Despite the loud outcry over the deal from some segments of the gaming community, Iribe considers the acquisition good for gamers. “For game developers, they’re going to a have a lot more success shipping their content into … a platform that has a billion users,” he said, as opposed to the 25 or 100 million units that most successful game consoles sell in their lifetime.
Iribe told TechCrunch that, “The acquisition actually convinced big developers that Oculus was a stable platform they could confidently build for.” He doesn’t mention which companies, exactly, have signed up to make games compatible with Oculus since the acquisition was announced, so we’ll have to wait and see.