Oculus Wants To Use Facebook To Build The MMO To End All MMOS: An Online Game With A Billion Subscribers

Back when Facebook first purchased Oculus VR for the tidy sum of $2 billion, neither company really went in-depth about what their plans were for the acquisition. The only thing that was made clear as that the new management for the virtual reality firm wouldn't change its original goal, nor its target audience. Truthfully, the acquisition actually meant that Oculus was now even better-equipped to accomplish its original goals; with Facebook's backing the headsets could be produced for less and at a higher quality. Facebook, meanwhile, jumped on the chance to lead the next stage in the evolution of home computing (or so it believed).

Just because we never heard about any collaboration between the two companies, however, doesn't mean there wasn't any. Earlier this week at TechCrunch Disrupt, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribie dropped a nuclear warhead on the audience: along with Facebook, his company wishes to build a massively multiplayer online experience designed for one billion simultaneous users. "This is going to be an MMO where we want to put people in VR," he explained to attendees.

A billion-person virtual reality MMORPG? That sounds...actually a little bit insane. What exactly is Iribe aiming to accomplish with such an announcement?

At the very least, he acknowledges that his idea is more than a little far-fetched for today's world, adding that such a large MMO "is going to take a larger network than exists in the world today." According to him, however, Facebook is a great place to start constructing such a network, explaining that it could eventually be developed into a VR Metaverse which joins a number of disparate worlds, games, and experiences. 

Why do I get the feeling Iribe watched Sword Art Online at some point(spoilers at that link, by the way)?  

At any rate, Iribe's ambition (which may or may not be shared by Palmer Luckey) actually sheds new light on Oculus VR's decision to join up with Facebook - assuming this concept was already in the works back when the acquisition took place. After all, Iribe's right about one thing - Facebook's probably one of the most suitable organizations with which to start building such a massive MMORPG. Plus, as Iribe noted at the conference, joining up with another game developer could artificially limit Oculus VR's reach.

"Do you want to build a platform that has a billion users on it, or only 10, 20, or 50 million?" he asked, noting that dedicated game consoles don't tend to sell as well as mobile devices - and implying that the Oculus Rift is going to be something more than a pure gaming device when it's finally available to the end user. Of course...we kind of knew that already, didn't we? 

Right now, Oculus is focused on the short-term - making virtual reality more...well; real. At the moment, they're trying to convince the players that they're having a real conversation with another living, breathing human (or at the very least, another sentient being). Only once they've reached that point will they start looking beyond...and if they do indeed manage to create a billion-man-MMO, they might well turn to the stars next.

Not sure what I'm talking about? Let me put it this way: how would you like to search the cosmos for alien life while playing an MMORPG? Apparently NASA's looking into developing the technology to do so. Also, this could lead to giant, pilotable robots. 

If there's one thing I love more than video games, it's science.

According to Iribe, Oculus VR's Seattle offices - headed by Michael Abrash of Valve fame - will become an R&D lab which will work with universities on virtual reality. He believes that VR technology will be one of the most-researched areas in the decades to come. Looking at the evidence arrayed here, I'm inclined to agree.