Oculus Rift, the virtual reality firm bought by Facebook for $2bn last month, has revealed its ambitions to create a massive game world populated by as many as one billion users.
Watch this video looking at people’s reactions to Oculus Rift here:
Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this week, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe said that his team aspires to create a massively multiplayer virtual reality experience for a billion people.
“[It’s] going to take a bigger network than exists in the world today,” he added. “This is going to be an MMO where we want to put a billion people in VR.”
It’s been suggested that instead of using the Rift as a gaming device, the headset could become the next platform for the internet, replacing smartphones and tablets in the same way that these mobile devices have been edging out the traditional web browser in recent years.
The challenge of building a 1 billion person-strong MMO is huge. World of Warcraft, the biggest traditional MMO game, peaked at 12 million monthly active users in 2010. Other, less virtual world-style MMOs have found greater user numbers, primarily powered by Facebook, including Zynga’s farming community game FarmVille which topped 80 million users in 2010.
Iribe said that Facebook, with its 1.23 billion monthly active users was certainly a good start, suggesting that the Oculus Rift could be used to represent an interconnected virtual world similar to Facebook’s social network.
The Oculus chief said that while the 1 billion person MMO was the endgame, the company would still be committed to more traditional games as well as leveraging the headset as a way to have virtual conversations with real people.
“If you let go, you can have a real conversation with a person. That’s the holy grail we’re trying to get to,” said Iribe.
However, Iribe’s comments have also sparked anger online, with many of the original backers of the Oculus Rift campaign already annoyed that despite donating more than $2 million to the company they won’t be seeing a penny of Rift’s new $2 billion acquisition.