Carmack “wasn’t expecting Facebook” to buy Oculus, but social network gets the “Big Picture”

Monday, 31st March 2014 02:44 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Oculus Rift chief technological officer, id Software co-founder, actual rocket scientist, tech guru and suspected time lord John Carmack has commented on Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR, expressing surprise but no concerns.


Writing in response to a blog post from Peter Berkman of Anamanaguchi, Carmack said that VR is “too powerful” an experience to grow organically and independently the way something like Steam did at Valve.

“The fairly rapid involvement of the Titans is inevitable, and the real questions were how deeply to partner, and with who,” he said.

“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting Facebook (or this soon). I have zero personal background with them, and I could think of other companies that would have more obvious synergies.

“However, I do have reasons to believe that they get the Big Picture as I see it, and will be a powerful force towards making it happen. You don’t make a commitment like they just did on a whim.”

He’s not worried about Facebook’s poor reputation for respecting privacy, he added in a later comment.

“I’m not a ‘privacy is gone, get over it’ sort of person, and I fully support people that want remain unobserved, but that means disengaging from many opportunities. The idea that companies are supposed to interact with you and not pay attention has never seemed sane to me,” he said.

“Being data driven is a GOOD thing for most companies to be. Everyone cheers the novel creative insight and bold leadership that leads to some successes, and tut tuts about companies ending up poorly by blindly following data, but cold analysis of the data is incredibly important, and I tend to think the world will be improved with more and better data analysis.”

Not everybody has been so accepting of the buy-out; Mojang boss Markus “Notch” Persson cancelled Minecraft for Oculus Rift because Facebook creeps him out; investors went cold on Facebook stock; and some Oculus Rift Kickstarter backers demanded a refund.

Thanks, Joystiq.



  1. Tormenter

    Carmack has never given a shit about anything but the grassroots tech, he doesn’t give a toss about the the ‘politics’ of it as long as he can get his nerd on, I’m not surprised he’s giving support for this, all that means is that he gets to play with new toys.

    He’d sell his own grandmother to those ends, and has certainly made some questionable decisions over the years because his head had been too buried in code.

    #1 9 months ago
  2. Panthro


    It sounds like you have known Carmack quite a long time, how did you two meet?

    Obv not.

    #2 9 months ago
  3. TheWulf

    This is peculiar, I guess. I always figured Carmack to be a more grassroots person in general, not just in the tech, he always seemed to be more politically inclined toward the freedom of technology. Wasn’t it Carmack that pushed for open sourcing of games, and wasn’t he always the one responsible behind IdTech eventually going open source? That’s a political belief, right there.

    I guess big business has changed him. Either that, or he’s so attached to the VR tech that he’s feeding us a line. I’m not sure what to make of this, since the Carmack I was at least a bit familiar with would have snorted derisively at this sort of thing, he would have known that a giant corporation owning a new technology would have been bad for everyone involved. So I wonder about him. I guess he’s lost to us, since mainstream data chasing didn’t seem his thing. Invention did. Invention, novelty, and creativity.

    And I get that some people are violently opposed to invention, novelty, and creativity and favour familiarity instead. I grok that. But Carmack didn’t seem like one of those people. The kind of person who believes that all products should be built upon data is like saying that all products should be built upon familiarity rather than novelty. How very an unintelligent and un-Carmack-like thing to say. So I’m mildly baffled by this, and it leaves me feeling sad.

    Basically, to boil it down, he said this.

    Supporting novelty and invention is insane. Big business understands this, this is why they use data to give the public more of the exceedingly familiar things they want, and that’s sanity.

    Realising that, I wonder if he’s just bitter and angry? And whether this isn’t him being snide and ironic? I am now actually given reason for pause, since I’m looking at what he said in a different way. With an internal smirk or a snort. So maybe the Carmack I know is still in there, just buried under loads of disappointments.

    Since, honestly, he’s too smart to say something like what I just quoted.

    #3 9 months ago
  4. TheWulf


    Exactly, #1 is talking out of a hole they shouldn’t be.

    Carmack always pushed for the kind of politics the EFF does, not as openly, and more subtly, but if you know what to look for he’s been doing that since day one. I honestly can’t see him saying this without irony and an inner smirk. I can’t tell if he’s bitter or just making fun of Facebook. He actually had me going.

    But it’s Carmack, I can’t believe he unironically means what he’s saying, there. You don’t go from being that insightful to being that potato-brained overnight. It’s impossible. What’s going on in your head, Carmack? Are you taking Facebook for a ride, or are you just bitter? In the case of the latter, do you need a hug?

    But yes, I definitely think he’s being ironic. He’s being clever-person ironic, which is why I almost missed it.

    #4 9 months ago
  5. lookingglass

    Without Facebook, Oculus would’ve been out spent and passed up by one of the Titans. Then they would’ve been bought out and dismantled.

    If you can’t see this, then I am truly sorry.

    #5 9 months ago
  6. Tormenter


    You don’t read anything except games pages, no?

    #6 9 months ago
  7. Tormenter


    That’s as much of an assumption as you’ve accused me of.

    #7 9 months ago
  8. Tormenter


    “Exactly, #1 is talking out of a hole they shouldn’t be.”

    That’s as much of an assumption as you’ve accuse me of.

    #8 9 months ago

Comments are now closed on this article.