When Facebook acquired Oculus there was a fair amount of cynicism. Some gamers were worried that the device many see as the future of gaming would be co-opted, drowned out by ads and mismanaged to the point where the Rift would no longer deliver what was initially promised. But, according CEO Brendan Iribe it's the difference between becoming the next Game Boy or becoming the next iPhone. He wants the Oculus Rift to become the next iPhone. He wants to create an MMO with 1 billion users.
"I think Game Boy is an awesome platform," he explained, "but I think you’ll see handheld gaming largely disrupted by the mobile market... [D]o you want to be building a platform that has a billion people on it, or 10 or 20 or 50 million people... for game developers, they’re going to a have a lot more success shipping their content into... a platform that has a billion users, more than 50 million or 100 million. And consoles and gaming-targeted devices usually only get to a 50 to 100 million total audience.
"This is going to be an MMO where we want to put a billion people in VR."
It's obviously a massive, seemingly unattainable goal — and Iribe admits the technology doesn't currently exist to sustain it — but I find the scale of ambition at Oculus heartening. If the Rift does everything right, it will be more than a gaming device, it will be the key to an all new form of media. I think that's the thing that excites me most about this technology.