If you’re still trying to get your head wrapped around Facebook’s $US2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR, here’s another nugget to consider: Facebook just hired Michael Abrash, the man who was leading Valve’s virtual reality effort. He’s become the chief scientist at Oculus.
When Facebook announced the Oculus acquisition earlier this week, people wondered if Oculus could keep key people, particularly John Carmack, who is royalty in the gaming industry. Carmack created the super popular games Doom and Quake.
With the addition of Abrash, it’s clear that people aren’t bailing from Facebook. Quite the opposite. Oculus is assembling a “dream team” of virtual reality experts, as “aresant” on Hacker News put it:
“Ok, I am over being mad at Facebook. This is huge. Abrash has been the front facing member of Valve’s efforts. … This is going to be like watching the ‘Dream Team’ come together in one place, and I’m guessing that this ends all speculation about whether or not Carmack sticks around under FB considering the collaborative history between these two.”
Abrash and Carmack do have a long history as friends and colleagues. Carmack convinced Abrash to leave his job at Microsoft to work on Quake, back when Abrash was working on Microsoft’s flagship product, Windows, Abrash says in a blog post.
In that same post, Abrash also writes why it’s so great that Facebook bought Oculus:
… A lot of what it will take to make VR great is well understood at this point, so it’s engineering, not research … For example, there are half a dozen things that could be done to display panels that would make them better for VR … that’s not only expensive, it also requires time and patience — fully tapping the potential of VR will take decades.
… VR wouldn’t become truly great until some company stepped up and invested the considerable capital to build the right hardware …
That worry is now gone. Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus means that VR is going to happen in all its glory. “
And then Abrash envisions virtual reality becoming the new way everyone interacts with each other through their computers. He writes:
“… we’re working on technology that will change not just computer gaming, but potentially how all of us interact with computers, information, and each other every day. I think it’s going to be the biggest game-changer I’ve ever seen.”
This echos what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said when he explained why Facebook bought Oculus VR, that “This is really a new communication platform.”
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