Carmack: Facebook gets the big picture

Carmack: Facebook gets the big picture
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

March 31st 2014 at 11:49AM

Social networking firm will be a 'powerful force' towards making virtual reality happen, says industry veteran

John Carmack has spoken positively of Facebook's acquisition of Oculus and believes the firm gets "the big picture" for virtual reality's potential.

Responding to a piece by Peter Berkman on the right and wrong reasons to be upset about the news, Carmack admitted the acquisition had caught him by surprise but felt the social networking company would be a "powerful force" in making VR happen.

"There is a case to be made for being like Valve, and trying to build a new VR ecosystem like Steam from the ground up," he said.

"This is probably what most of the passionate fans wanted to see. The difference is that, for years, the industry thought Valve was nuts, and they had the field to themselves. Valve deserves all their success for having the vision and perseverance to see it through to the current state.

"VR won't be like that. The experience is too obviously powerful, and it makes converts on contact. The fairly rapid involvement of the Titans is inevitable, and the real questions were how deeply to partner, and with who.

"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."

Carmack also suggested that data mining by companies such as Facebook was not as bad as some people made out. He said he supports those who want to remain unobserved, but that meant 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.

"I have never felt harmed by data mining, and I rather like the recommendations that Amazon gives me on each visit. Educate me. What terrible outcome is expected from this? Be specific."