GTA parent company CEO says Oculus Rift is “anti-social”

Friday, 30 May 2014 17:53 GMT By Sherif Saed

Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two, Grand Theft Auto’s parent company, thinks that Oculus Rift is “anti-social” and that it will only be for the “core gamer.”


Speaking to Bloomberg in an interview, Zelnick said, “I think for a core gamer, it could be a wonderful experience; someone who really likes to be immersed.

“But a lot of people who play video games, for example my kids, they play with their friends sitting next to them, so that technology is not going to appeal to them. So I think it’s very much a core technology.”

Afterwards, his interviewer wondered if the Rift is anti-social, a sentiment which Zelnick agreed with.

“It is an anti-social technology, but we will support it to the extent it’s brought to market and it works for our games,” he began. “It is apparently great. Our people who have tried it, love it. I have not actually [tried Oculus Rift]. Everyone says it’s great.”

Do you agree with his comments, or do you think the Rift will be for a certain demographic?

Thanks, Gamespot.


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  1. salarta

    This is kind of a “no shit” proposition. I’m not criticizing anyone for stating it, more that I’m saying this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that has actually thought about the Oculus Rift and its applications. While Luckey and Zuckerberg talk about using this thing to go to a movie theater or a basketball game and not have to ever go outside, actual human beings still want to interact with other actual human beings in the real world.

    This is why it’s not going to be the wild, crazy success people think it’ll be. Again, unless the headset itself is insanely cheap, the only audience after an initial period of people buying into overblown hype will be hardcore gamers, The transition in Nintendo’s situation from Wii to Wii U illustrates this perfectly. And unlike Nintendo when the Wii came out, Oculus Rift has already alienated a huge chunk of their install base by selling out to Facebook.

    I await the paid Facebook supporters that will come shortly to speak endless praise for Oculus Rift and Facebook.

    #1 8 months ago
  2. DarkElfa

    Not everything in this fucking world needs to be social. When I play a game, I like to be immersed into it’s world.

    #2 8 months ago
  3. gomersoul

    All I can agree with is the negative arguments for virtual reality headsets. All the people saying this will storm the world seem misguided. Facebook isn’t cool anymore, this definitely isn’t, so the masses won’t be buying it

    #3 8 months ago
  4. POOhead

    it will be same success as WoW where all the non social people can interact with each other

    #4 8 months ago
  5. salarta

    @gomersoul The idea of virtual reality headsets is still cool, but the idea of an Oculus Rift headset has taken a huge (and deserved) thrashing for the core audience with the core audience that supported and would have continued to support the Oculus Rift before the Facebook deal, while the only real audience they’ve shown they care about is the fickle and shaky mass market.

    The masses might buy it, but only the first iteration. After people discover there’s pretty much no use for Oculus Rift in their day to day lives, they’ll feel either that they wasted their money, or that the first model is good enough. Gamers are the only conceivable group that would care enough to buy newer models past the initial launch, and the Oculus Rift guys have already essentially turned their backs on that community. They deviated from the initial scope that got them where they are today, and their language following the sellout is primarily about non-gaming “social” applications that the majority of people don’t want or care about.

    This is why I say Sony’s pretty much the only game in town when it comes to VR. Valve’s only messing with it in-house, Microsoft and Google are so far only doing augmented reality, Apple and Amazon aren’t on board, and Oculus Rift is more or less screwed after they threw away the public good and support they once had.

    #5 8 months ago
  6. bradk825

    I think he just called core gamers anti-social. That kind of sucks…

    Anyway, I am sure multiplayer games will be possible on Occulus anyway, get two of them for couch co-op for example.

    #6 8 months ago
  7. salarta

    @bradk825 Nah, what I picked up was him saying that it’s useful for immersion in a video game world, but has little use for the average person outside video games. Outside video games, it really goes against social interests. Even Facebook itself proves this to be true: the majority of Facebook use is people showing their vacation photos, talking about their real life relationships, etc, not to sit around in isolation with a screen as practically the only interaction a person has with the rest of the world.

    The remarks above pretty much say the exact reason the “couch co-op” example doesn’t work. Being in the same room but only interacting through headsets is not the same thing as actually interacting with that person in the same room. If that’s all you’re doing, then it’s no different than playing with each other online, with the sole distinction that you aren’t at risk of microphone issues.

    #7 8 months ago
  8. AlexSmith

    Man there are a lot of stupid people who don’t know jack about the emerging VR market.
    For those of you who don’t think the Oculus Rift will take the world by storm: Try it before you talk.

    Nearly every single person I have demoed the Rift to, thought it was going to be “meh”.
    Every single person I have demoed it to, wouldn’t stop talking about how amazed they were for the next couple of weeks; and some even still, almost a year later.

    For those people who think it is antisocial: It is only if you want it to be.
    I have spent many sessions in the Rift with a houseful of people taking turns. You can watch what the other player sees on your monitor so you know what they are looking at.
    As long as you don’t put on headphones and instead play with speakers, you can still hear what everybody is saying; it is actually a lot of fun at a party.

    Alternatively, if there is nobody around: put on your headphones, turn out the lights and enjoying walking, flying, swimming or driving into another dimension!
    I would imagine this will be further improved upon in the future.

    #8 8 months ago
  9. yeoung


    “actual human beings still want to interact with other actual human beings in the real world”

    The rate at which human social interaction is increasingly taking place in non-tangible environments flies directly in the face of that assertion. I’m not saying that social interaction in physical proximity is completely falling to the wayside, but it seems quite apparent that people are expanding their social interactions beyond that relatively small scope. This trend has been ongoing since the advent of long-distance communication in all its forms.

    The Oculus merely represents a new medium, the potential for lifelike interaction of which seems to outclass contemporary means. The Oculus is a mere stepping stone towards TIVR, but one needs not press the limits of feasibility to see the next step. The dawn of any new form of (tele)communication draws in the clouds of naysayers, all echoing similar motives.

    I can see how someone with a stake in “traditional” media would throw red flags around like no one’s business, but the general populace need only embrace additional options, rather than dismiss them outright.

    #9 8 months ago
  10. yeoung

    To simplify, seeing my friend in Japan is made easier by means of technology. Seeing as it’s quite difficult to simply go there and do the “real world” social thing, a device like the OR would make it possible to spend time together. (as would a phone/skype/etc)

    We’d be able to hang out more, by definition being more actively social than we currently are by using these means. The context that mr. Zelnick employs is incredibly narrow and a misguided representation of the potential of the OR. Incredibly simple minded in fact.

    #10 8 months ago
  11. yeoung

    I don’t mean to comment-spam, but I’d like to derisively scoff at the notion of an “anti-social technology” and chuckle at the ironic nature of its source.

    *derisive scoff*

    #11 8 months ago
  12. Dragon

    “VR has little use for the average person outside video games.”

    Oh shit. The nostradamus speaking. One of the reasons why discussing tech with people having zero imaginative power and know-how about tech (like the few on forums) is bound to create hilarity.

    #12 8 months ago
  13. shadedraws

    @DarkElfa Exactly. A lot of gaming companies push “social” experiences because it’s a way to get consumers to sell other consumers on their technology, which is why so many games now force multiplayer into its set of features when it doesn’t necessarily need to be there.

    Movie-going isn’t a social experience. Even if you go with ten people you sit in silence, in the dark, staring up at a big screen with your attention fully given to it and not the people you came with. Want to see anti-social? Go to a restaurant with a bunch of people who have smartphones. They can’t put the fucking things away.

    VR is a social experience, but a new kind of social experience that most people can’t wrap their heads around. It’s the same kind of scrutiny that EVERY new medium faces: Books will make people dumber because they won’t remember anything anymore; rock and roll will corrupt your kids; comics will make your children into criminals; home computers will make everyone anti-social; video games will turn your kids into sociopaths. These accusations have always been disproven and chalked up to people’s fears of the unknown and their ignorance, but any time a new medium comes along it faces the same negativity as all the ones that came before it.

    All forms of entertainment are virtual reality. When you read a book you’re transporting yourself somewhere else within that quiet, focused space. When you’re watching a movie you’re fully immersed in the story and forget about the world around you. The same with music, comics, video games, and now, virtual reality. VR is just the next inevitable step in Man’s desperate need to envision themselves somewhere else. Escapism is an exclusive human trait and I personally can’t wait to jump head-first into the next evolutionary step of this endeavor.

    #13 8 months ago
  14. shadedraws

    @yeoung Most people just can’t comprehend your point here, and it’s a good one. They can only compare emerging technologies directly with pre-existing technologies and their use cases. They don’t understand the potential use cases and dismiss the technology altogether, even when their cynicism flies in the face of centuries of technological progress.

    “Phone will make us anti-social because instead of talking to people face-to-face we’ll just talk into a piece of plastic.” This was actually an assertion made by people when telephones were being developed. Sound familiar? Do phones make us anti-social by negating the need to have face-to-face conversations? No! lol It opened up entirely new ways to socialize that were never ever possible before. This is what the gift of VR can provide. Even the Take-Two CEO doesn’t seem to understand this and he’s someone who is steeped in current technologies. It’s an almost laughable cognitive dissonance. He’s the head of a company that produces video games… video games which were once criticized IN THE EXACT SAME WAY HE’S CRITICIZING VR, that they’re anti-social, blahblahblah.

    Time will just have to educate people in the many use cases for VR(which aren’t already plainly apparent by the numerous industries that are already exploiting it, like medicine, business, the military, real estate, tourism, gaming, .etc) by making it impossible for a single consumer to be confused as to its applications.

    Some people you need to educate by speaking slowly and holding up a big sign. This is the only obstacle for VR.

    #14 8 months ago
  15. TheWulf


    I couldn’t agree more. An extrovert is still going to need actual person to person contact. I know extroverts who love Second Life, but would never replace it with a day of going out, it just serves to augment their needs when they’re at home. It generally wouldn’t be used much, though, because they’d feel it would ‘isolate’ them. This isn’t really a technology that was meant for them, which is why it’s so annoying that the Oculus Rift project got sheistered into corporate ownership.

    VR is very much an introvert technology, for those who want to fully immerse themselves and experience genuinely fantastic things. I’ve butted heads with quite a few extroverts about this who simply don’t understand the appeal, who believe that gaming on a TV is the best way to do so. The extrovert isn’t exactly perceptive of minutiae, which is something that’s come up on VG24/7. I remember arguing with a thick-headed individual who believed that there were no subtle movements of the human head and eye, that they were completely static — not unlike cameras mounted on a robotic arm. It couldn’t be further from the truth, if you stop to actually pay attention to how your field of vision is working, you’re always making these subtle movements that a game never captures.

    For an extrovert, that’s not an important feature, because they don’t understand what it means to be truly engulfed by something. Instead, the extrovert frequently mixes up that with ‘realism,’ which is a real bugbear of mine. They’ll tell you that something “isn’t immersive because it breaks their suspension of disbelief.” Of course, this is blaming the game for the extrovert having a paper-thin suspension of disbelief. I don’t really think that’s their fault.

    I know an extrovert who hates Iron Man and can’t sit down to watch most sci-fi things because they exist too far outside of what he believes to be acceptably real. It’s an all too common attitude amongst the ES** personality types, you see. An extrovert, especially an ES**, worst of all the ESTP, tend to have a fetishistic attachment to the present moment, living in that very second, incapable of imagining what might happen 300 seconds after that second, let alone a decade, or a century, or a millennia. This is why television has become increasingly more boring, to not chance offending such simple minds. I remember that some of the reasons that people hated Star Trek: Voyager were, essentially: A woman is the captain; the shit it deals with is too weird for me; I don’t want this moralistic/ethical crap on my telly, I just want shit killin’ shit; there’s too much goddamn technobabble and I don’t get it.

    So, yeah, I think it’s fair to say that an extrovert just wouldn’t understand the attachment to details, let alone new, novel details. In fact, focusing too much on details that aren’t commonly focused on is going to make the extrovert uncomfortable, they’re going to come up with horribly illogical, irrational, and completely fake reasons as to why something is bad just to cover up their own inadequacies (see: Voyager hate). That’s commonplace.

    So whilst I’m fascinated by the novelty of a fixation on details we don’t normally see, that’s because I’m an introverted nerdboy. I won’t lie about that because I actually take pride in it, I have an open mind and a broader understanding than the vast majority of people. I do consider myself a superior person to any ES**, just by the merit of how my brain developed. I’ve said before, there’s nothing that one should be more proud of than their brain and their own creations and efforts.

    Whether you’re working in the fields of science or creating great works of art, you’re going to be an introverted nerd. That’s a given. The reason? You need to be able to internalise. Even funnier is that science has become more of an IN** thing than an IS** thing of late because of how much imagination needs to be involved to explain quantum physics. Science was originally more IS**, but the problem there was that the disbelief held back progress. I remember how someone posited that tectonic plates moved, and it explained so much, but it was shot down because dim-witted scientific committees at the time couldn’t accept it. Decades later, it’s proven to be true.

    That’s why science has been moving ever more towards introverted intuition, but I digress. The thing is is that the extrovert, especially the ES**, is a herd animal. They don’t want new experiences, they want to go to the same night spots, to have the same experiences, to leech energy off of other people, and that’s that. They just want the same kind of experience over and over. An extrovert isn’t excited by the notion of exploring a derelict alien ship (I AM), the extrovert is excited by a night out on the town with their friends more than anything else. To them, gaming is something they do between outings with friends. And it’s got to be cloyingly familiar in order for them to enjoy it, in fact, if it’s cloyingly familiar enough you may get extroverts playing it multiplayer.

    This is why Call of Duty’s multiplayer is more popular than, say, Mass Effect 3′s. And in ME3, the more modern military shooter classes (and there are a few that play just like that) are by far the most common. Stuff like the Krogan Vanguard, the Krogan Battlemaster, the Geth Trooper, the Geth Juggernaut, and so on are much less popular. And it’s a shame, because it rocks having a Geth Juggernaut in the party.

    Love those guys.

    Thing is… extroverts don’t want new experiences, they want TINY variations on familiar, existing experiences. That’s what they seek. The problem is is that if you make those TINY variations too slightly less tiny, it alienates the extrovert. This is what I was trying to point out with games like Sunset Overload — it’s trying to appeal to both introverted nerds and familiarity-clinging extroverts. It won’t work. It’s too unfamiliar for the extroverts and it’s too familiar for the introverts. They were better off sticking with something more zany, and more weird, like Ratchet & Clank.

    Sooo… yeah. Extroverts won’t be interested in this. I mean, all a Rift would do? It’d create a ‘rift’ between the two overweight extroverts sitting on a couch playing FIFA. They wouldn’t want that. They’d want to see each other fist pump and whatever other ‘bro’ activities they get up to. They’d also want to see the rage faces they make when they’re screaming like deranged monkeys and throwing their controllers around.

    I can see why it’s completely true that an Oculus Rift would ruin the experience for an extrovert. However, the problem is — and Facebook nor this guy realise it — is that VR tech is meant for nerdy introverts who don’t scream, rageface, or throw controllers around. Most of the time, they’re not playing sports games, they’re exploring strange, derelict alien spaceships instead. Or what have you. That’s the difference.

    So, of course a company who makes games for extroverts (GTA is very much that) isn’t going to understand that introverts actually exist. That doesn’t surprise me at all.

    #15 8 months ago
  16. TheWulf

    Oops, meant to be @2, not @1.

    But yes, I agree. Extroverts often fail to understand that introverts exist. It’s the source of a lot of my anger, especially when you also take into account that extroverts aren’t particularly worldly, bright, open-minded, cultured, or imaginative. It’s like being heckled by the Borg hive.

    #16 8 months ago
  17. Gekidami

    “Extroverts” “Introverts”

    “Stop with the labels, lets enjoy the damned games”

    We need a an automated system on this site; every time Wulf makes a post, there should be a system message thats posted right after that says “Fuck you Wulf”.

    BTW Heir Wulf, you’re still wrong about human eye & head movement as shown by medical science. To bad you’re too much of a dim-witted narcissist to every realise how wrong you always are.

    #17 8 months ago
  18. TheWulf


    Well, yeah, you’re an extrovert. You won’t understand the appeal of wanting to lose yourself in an exotic, alien locale, completely shutting out reality in the process. This is a very introverted past-time. This is why I was completely baffled that Facebook bought it in the first place, because there’s absolutely no way you can sell a project like this to extroverts like yourself.

    It would be like trying to sell FIFA to an introvert, there’s just no way in hell it’s going to happen, no matter how you market it. The vast majority of introverted nerds out there have very little understanding in sports beyond its tactical properties. The only way you could do it is to make it similar to Blood Bowl, but then it wouldn’t be FIFA any more.

    So… this product isn’t for you! I can understand your confusion, however. Facebook is a company making extroverted products, and they’ve just conned-to-own one of the biggest upcoming introverted products on the market. I’m a little confused myself.


    Actually, that’s very contrary to what I’ve seen. Raiding is an extroverted experience, and it’s why many of them put up with ‘a setting they hate,’ so that they can get together with big groups of other humans to do a raid and shout at people when they can’t actually go out for the night. WoW raiding is just an auxiliary to extroverted nights out on the town.

    I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard “I hate the cartoon setting but I play it because it has lots of other people who I can group up with to kill shit.” as a reason. I mean, it’s not that different to Facebook games, really. I’ve spoken with an extrovert about why they play Facebook games, specifically one they hated playing. “If I stop playing it, I may lose my bonuses. And I may lose friends who stick around because they’re also playing this game and we give each other bonuses.” Essentially, they’re playing a game because they don’t want their social circle to shrink.

    An introverted experience, to my mind, would be something more like Uru. Where people are hanging out with one or two others, and they’re quietly trying to solve puzzles and taking in those beautiful alien vistas.

    Though I will admit that WoW may be a heavy auxiliary for failed extroverts.



    I was happy to see that VR was being driven by a privately owned company rather than a publically owned one, that meant that they would have put the technology first. That’s not something that Sony would do. Sony would put the money first, for the sake of their shareholders, as they’ve done many times in the past. Sony shares that with Microsoft.

    If Valve manage to knock something together, then I’ll be happy again because it’ll mean VR being driven by a privately owned company, but until then… I don’t know, it seems like it’s all been perverted.

    #18 8 months ago
  19. sb319

    So unsurprisingly what he ACTUALLY said is more positive and nuanced than the headline suggests. Pretty trashy, VG247, you’re acting like a real red-top now.

    #19 8 months ago
  20. lookingglass

    “I have not actually tried it.” – Zelnick


    #20 8 months ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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