Valve’s Michael Abrash joins Oculus as its new chief scientist

Friday, 28th March 2014 17:23 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Valve’s head of research and development Michael Abrash has joined Oculus VR as its chief scientist.


Abrash helped spearhead Valve’s work in Virtual Reality tech.

“Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus means that VR is going to happen in all its glory,” he said per a blog post. “The resources and long-term commitment that Facebook brings gives Oculus the runway it needs to solve the hard problems of VR – and some of them are hard indeed.

“I now fully expect to spend the rest of my career pushing VR as far ahead as I can. It’s great to be working with John [Carmack] again after all these years, this time, 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 – and I’ve seen quite a lot over the last 57 years.”

Valve’s lead engineer Atman Binstock also left the firm earlier this month to join Oculus as its chief architect.

Abrash said during Valve’s Developer Days earlier this year that “compelling” consumer-priced VR hardware could make a splash by 2015.

Earlier this week, Oculus was purchased for $2 billion by Facebook. The acquisition was met with mixed feelings from both the gaming community and tech sectors.

Thanks, TechCrunch.



  1. salarta

    Looks like it’s unlikely Valve will be able to enter the VR market now, since not only did they give the Oculus guys access to patents on VR, but now at least one figure at Valve that was behind VR has left them to join Oculus and Facebook.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Oculus selling out to Facebook and Abrash leaving Valve to join Oculus combined lead to Valve being less likely to support start-ups like Oculus in the future. After all, if Valve hadn’t cooperated with Oculus, they could’ve restarted their own work on VR and put out a product to compete with Sony and Oculus. Like many backers and developers, Valve lost out because they believed the Oculus guys had more integrity than they do.

    And I say this even if Valve puts out a statement saying they still support the Oculus team. What else could they really do at this point, admit that they got tricked into offering patents to a group that they didn’t expect to drop their principles for money?

    #1 9 months ago
  2. fearmonkey

    If Abrash and Carmack cant make VR work and successful with FB’s money, then no one can,.

    #2 9 months ago
  3. _LarZen_

    Oculus Rift development is looking just better and better.

    #3 9 months ago
  4. Gekidami

    I dont think Steam stand a chance anyway, Sony & (now) Facebook are household names. They sell/can sell to both “specialist” gamers and the average joe. Steam on the other hand are only known by a crowd of at least minimally knowledgeable gamers. Its the same issue i have with the Steambox idea; Steam has no mass market penetration.

    And theres the fact that VR itself isnt something that interests the general public yet, Steam has no chance of pushing the idea, Sony & FB have the power to make it a mass market fad (especially FB). If it does take off, say thanks to FB, Oculus becomes the next iPhone type gadget everyones gotta have, it’ll be the big names that sail those coat tails with their own versions, just like with smart phones. Sony will already have a foot in the door but you can also bet Samsung and the like will join in. Steam cant stand up to those giants.

    #4 9 months ago
  5. spoffle

    @1 @4

    Steam explicitly stated that they were not looking to enter the VR market, they were simply doing R&D into it to help further the market, hence why they shared so much with Oculus VR.

    #5 9 months ago
  6. TheWulf

    So, #5 has this right. Valve said many times that they were just trying to help to foster another open environment, similar to Valve’s own. In my opinion, going by both their words and actions, they were trying to create another privately owned company which was driven more by ideas than profits. Someone that they could collaborate with to do interesting new things. Having Oculus Rift, the privately owned company, as a business partner would have been good for Valve.

    In order to foster that relationship, Valve shared access to their people, their patents, and their R&D. They had no interest in just taking them over as a face(book?)less, vile, predatory corporation might have, they wanted to help them become their own thing. Valve are the victims in this, because they were burned for their efforts.

    The thing is is that we need more Valve-like entities, Double Fine is also a Valve-like entity and I hope they remain that way, because there is an inherent goodness to DF. I think that a privately owned company is just less likely to dick you over or to be driven by profit margins. Having Oculus Rift be a Valve-like company would have been amazing for everyone, it would have meant that they could have controlled their own destiny and built their own empire.

    Instead, they threw it all away.

    My main worry here isn’t that Valve won’t get into the PR business now, because they never intended to, that was always clear. I’m kind of amused at #4 having such a passionate opinion, but one completely backed up by ignorance. Since, you know, that’s putting Valve in a race that they never intended to partake of in the first place. Valve wasn’t doing R&D on VR to go into the VR business, they were always very open about why they were doing it: To help Oculus grow.

    My main worry, now, is that they’re going to pull away from helping startups, because it’ll just be another Oculus scenario all over again. Valve did a lot in good faith to help Oculus, and what Oculus did was basically a spit in the face. The toxicity of the act is undeniable, as it rode the good will of Valve and the general public only to sell out to a faceless corporation. I still think they were sheistered and that’s why they sold out, but still, they should have known better. I just feel bad for Valve. Valve likely had a lot of faith in them to become something special.

    I guess Valve were playing the mentor role in this, and their apprentice up and kicked them in the nuts, only to run off with their wallet.

    #6 9 months ago
  7. Dragon

    You know the meaning of the term “hypocrisy” when you hear people (on teh internet) chiding others for making *gasp* profits.

    #7 9 months ago

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