Michael Abrash joins Oculus

Valve VR specialist jumps to Rift maker to work on "the platform to end all platforms," lauds Facebook acquisition

The Facebook acquisition of Oculus apparently hasn't hampered the firm's ability to attract high-profile talent. Today, Oculus announced that the hiring of ex-Valve virtual reality specialist Michael Abrash as its chief scientist, and Abrash made the acquisition sound like a selling point.

"We're on the cusp of what I think is not The Next Big Platform, but rather simply The Final Platform - the platform to end all platforms - and the path here has been so improbable that I can only shake my head," Abrash said in a blog post on the Oculus site. "The final piece of the puzzle fell into place on Tuesday."

Abrash suggested that the success of VR is now not so much a matter of "if," but "when." He said his concern used to be that VR couldn't take off until a huge company invested the money needed to make hardware that could showcase the idea's potential, but no company would make that sort of investment unless the potential was already proven.

"I was afraid that that Catch-22 would cause VR to fail to achieve liftoff," Abrash said. "That worry is now gone. Facebook's acquisition of Oculus means that VR is going to happen in all its glory. 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."

Abrash will join fellow former Valve VR veteran Atmin Binstock at Oculus. Binstock was announced as the company's new chief architect earlier this month.

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Latest comments (7)

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 3 years ago
"We're on the cusp of what I think is not The Next Big Platform, but rather simply The Final Platform - the platform to end all platforms - and the path here has been so improbable that I can only shake my head,"
The final platform? Seriously, with holographic technology, AR, memristor technology and 3D printers that can make food, he thinks this is the epitome of technology? We havent even harnest the possibilities quantum physics will bring once we are able to tap into it, providing we dont drive our selves to extinction before hand... and what does he mean by ending all platforms? Cant variouse platforms that fill differant needs for differant types of people exist? Are they that up there in cloud 9 that they think so much of themselves that this is the way they see things?

Seriously... this is the type of comment that irks me, and alienates any good will i may have towards the products. I think much of the success SONY is having now is because of their attitude towards the consumer. It sparks good will. In a moment where I say to myself Im not interested in a product, I might change to maybe Ill give it a shot.

I dont know how arrogence can help a company. It didnt help SONY, Microsoft or Nintendo. And its what has alienated me from apple. the minute a comany starts telling me what they think I need, I feel compelled to stay away from there products. unless its a product I cant live without. And its quite a huge change from a the character a few underdogs had to making a dream come true to the arrogant, cocky attitude Im assuming they will have now.

Anyway, I know what virtual reality is. However my only interest in it would be gaming. It will probably come down to price and ease of use for me. SONY has a pretty solid and well established ecosystem for their products that Ive already invested on. If I ever do give VR a try it will be with a platform Im familiar with and have been using for a while. In fact I think Kinect goes perfectly with VR, no need for some crazy cyborg suit contraption for motion control input.

And right now we dont even know what the occulus Rift will be aimed at any more. Forget the pipedream that was kickstarter. Thats gone now. So now we have facebook in 3D. Honestly Im just happy skyping with people over my cel. phone and it doesnt have to be in 3DVR. These guys make it look like everybody will be happy about living a virtual life over a pair of goggles, when we have real life to expirience real things. Sitting on a couch doing nothing all day, except maybe waving your arms and looking rediculouse, with a helmet on to do something you can otherwise do on your mobile phone without looking like an awkard cyborg, is not fun to me.

This hasnt even been tested in public. Who knows the adverse affects it may cause to people. Anyway, ill cut it short, curiouse to see how people react to comments like those.
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James Brightman Editor, North America, GamesIndustry.biz3 years ago
Overreaction much Rick? It's a hyperbolic statement, sure, but no need to get carried away.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 3 years ago
Well maybe Im getting carried away. I guess the most appropriate attitude towards the Facebook aquisition of OR would be to simply wait and see. But to be honest I dont blame OR for selling out to facebook, with all the financial backing they now have. Im still having trouble putting facebook together with OR, like many other people are. In fact Im still having trouble seeing John Carmack work for facebook. The good thing is that OR isnt the only kid in the block. As their is other companies putting out similar devices. So the good thing is that their is choice and customers are not stuck with one product.
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Show all comments (7)
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 3 years ago
I'm just imagining some one-eyed gamer thinking about this being a "final" platform and grumbling or chuckling at that hype wheel spinning away...
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Brook Davidson Artist / 3D design 3 years ago
You have been a major skeptic of OR and VR to begin with since I have taken part on this site. Nearly every single topic about Oculus Rift, has been met with negativity from you. So much so, that i always expect to see you comment on these topics. For someone who is so darn skeptical of this becoming big, you sure do spend a lot of time talking about it XD.

Now, I don't think I would consider this to be the "Final Platform" lol, that is just stupid. However, the only platform that can get better then it, is something like the matrix or some other form of technology that simulates all senses. However, that is a long time away before we have something like that. So I could consider this platform being around for at least 20 years.

Also, the whole issue of it being a niche thing was abolished by facebook. So now it's very possible, not only will we see VR become popular, but it very well may end up being the next big thing in the world. Kinda like facebook itself.

I also agree with Abrash, it's no longer a matter of if, it is now just a matter of when.
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Justin Biddle Software Developer 3 years ago
Just because Facebook has bought it doesn't mean it's guaranteed success. Facebook and Google and others have in the past bought smaller companies that never came to fruition. That's not that I'm saying it won't. Just pointing out that Facebook buying it is no more proof that it's going to be the next big thing than any of those other companies that failed to deliver.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 3 years ago
@Brook -

Im not that interested in VR to be frank. But at the same time I dont wish it to fail, nore do I want to shut myself out completely to it or make biased statements regarding it. I try to be objective about it. While I have my thoughts about it, i dont want to be limited because of them. It comes down to price and ease of use for me. If it becomes mainstream, which means prices will drop, Ill eventually give it a shot.

When it comes to the facebook deal, I just feel that they sold out. As a creator myself and as a person who has also been part of creative projects, i find it very hard to sell the rights to something I created, unless its a work for hire or its something I specificaly created with that intent. I really admire companies or developers that stick to their guns and dont sell out. However facebook did present what can be considered an irresistable deal. However its difficult to see John Carmack work for facebook now.

When OR was independent. I did admire the exctment and enthusiasm people had for it. But now thats gone. And I dont really appreciate cocky and arrogant attitudes. But I guess when your sitting on what seems like unlimited funds, you can behave that way... i guess.

Regarding my comment above, its no differant than if it were a product i loved. When anybody makes an outlandish ridiculouse statement i call it out. Much like I did when Ken kutaragi from SONY, said people would work two jobs just to get their hands on a PS3. At the time when the PS3 price was announced it was pretty ridiculouse and he made those comments trying to justify the price. And as much as I loved the product I just couldnt go along with comments like that. i eventually got my PS3 when the price came down. There was no way on earth I would pay 600$ for a home game console.

Doesnt anyone here think that things are working well for SONY, due to their change in attitude?

However what irks me about this specific comment is that, I like to enjoy my game expiriences a certain way. And i think i can enjoy differant or new expiriences that dont necessarily make older expiriences less enjoyable. And what Michael Abrash's comments imply, is that the way other people like to play suck in comparision. I know they are just building on the hype machine OR has become. Doesnt mean Im gonna swallow it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 31st March 2014 8:01pm

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