Minecraft creator: 'Facebook creeps me out'

The developer behind one of the most successful video games in the world nixed plans to work with Oculus after the virtual reality company was acquired by the social media giant.

By Forbes Digital Mar 26, 2014 4:09PM

When Facebook (FB) announced a $2 billion dollar deal to buy virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR on Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg promised the new technology would help "change the way we work, play and communicate," and critics hailed the acquisition as a huge win for Facebook.

But at least one video game industry notable isn't happy about the deal. Markus "Notch" Persson, the video game designer who created the smash hit sandbox construction game Minecraft, says he has no intentions of doing business with Zuckerberg's social media giant.

"We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus," Persson said on Twitter shortly after the news broke. "I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out."

First released in 2009 by Persson's Stockholm, Sweden-based studio Mojang, Minecraft has become a global phenomenon, selling over 14 million copies on PC and over 35 million copies across platforms including Apple (AAPL) iOS devices and video game consoles from Microsoft (MSFT), Sony (SNE) and Nintendo.

Now Notch is one of the best-regarded independent developers in the video game industry, and while Facebook isn't likely to feel much of a pinch from his game not being released for their newly acquired headset, the announcement is still a PR blow.

A few hours later, in a blog post titled "Virtual Reality is going to change the world," Persson explained that he had received a developer kit for the upcoming Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, grown excited about the technology, and even flown out to Oculus VR's California headquarters "a couple of weeks ago" to discuss creating a slimmed-down version of Minecraft for the platform. But Facebook's ownership of the technology changes everything, he wrote:

Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.
Don't get me wrong, VR is not bad for social. In fact, I think social could become one of the biggest applications of VR. Being able to sit in a virtual living room and see your friend's avatar? Business meetings? Virtual cinemas where you feel like you're actually watching the movie with your friend who is seven time zones away?

But I don't want to work with social, I want to work with games.
Fortunately, the rise of Oculus coincided with competitors emerging. None of them are perfect, but competition is a very good thing. If this means there will be more competition, and VR keeps getting better, I am going to be a very happy boy. I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook. Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven't historically been a stable platform. There's nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me.

And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.

I have the greatest respect for the talented engineers and developers at Oculus. It's been a long time since I met a more dedicated and talented group of people. I understand this is purely a business deal, and I'd like to congratulate both Facebook and the Oculus owners. But this is where we part ways.
Persson may have soured on developing for the Oculus Rift, but his obvious enthusiasm for virtual reality could mean his studio will develop VR versions of Minecraft for other platforms, such as Sony's recently announced Project Morpheus headset. Carl Manneh, CEO of Mojang, says the company is "currently not developing any VR applications [or] implementations," but that the company is "obviously following development very closely."

And meanwhile, there’s still hope for lovers of Minecraft and the Oculus Rift. A few minutes after Persson expressed his disappointment with the Facebook deal, he tweeted a link to the independently developed Minecrift project, telling followers "if you're not aware, there's a mod" that will bring Minecraft to the headset on its own.

More on Forbes:
0Comments

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

ABOUT TECHBIZ

Start investing in technology companies with help from financial writers and experts who know the industry best. Learn what to look for in a technology company to make the right investment decisions.

RECENT POSTS

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

RECENT QUOTES

WATCHLIST

Symbol
Last
Change
Shares
Quotes delayed at least 15 min

MSN MONEY'S