Well we didn’t see this coming. It seems a number of game developers are dropping their support for the Oculus Rift until founder of the virtual reality device steps down.
Detailing the rift (pun very much intended) over on Motherboard, it seems that the founder, Palmer Luckey, is a supporter of U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump. With Donald Trump being such a controversial candidate for the U.S presidency, many people are opposed to his policies, demeanour and beliefs. With this in mind, people are concerned about what could happen should he be elected into office in November. Closing in on the election, more campaigns opposing Trump and his supporters are coming to the forefront. It has been reported, in support of Trump, that Palmer Luckey has been involved in a complex fund-raising effort on Reddit.
A number of developers have spoken out against this on Twitter, publicly announcing that they are pulling their support for the Oculus. Polytron (developer of Fez and Superhypercube) and Tomorrow Today Labs both made their feelings clear recently. Arguably, one of the biggest developers working on the Oculus is Insomniac Games, of Ratchet & Clank and Sunset Overdrive fame. Speaking to Motherboard they stated:
“Insomniac Games condemns all forms of hate speech. While everyone has a right to express his or her political opinion, the behavior and sentiments reported do not reflect the values of our company. We are also confident that this behavior and sentiment does not reflect the values of the many Oculus employees we work with on a daily basis.”
This has come at a crucial time for Oculus, having just released commercially, it is important that it can maintain it’s momentum and attract customers. Given the primary software will be gaming, it’s vital that the device has games coming and the potential customers feel that their new investment is going to be supported.
The situation is difficult. Though it does not seem as Palmer Luckey has committed a crime and has the right to his political views, as noted by Insomniac Games, so too do the developers pulling their support. Especially in an age where we encourage forms of social protest and rebellion, the developers way of handling this is an interesting form of political protest, though perhaps not a good move from a business perspective. It is nice to see people stick to their morals if they do not agree with something.
Of course, if Palmer Luckey stepped down, then this situation would resolve itself and the developers can continue working on their games for the newly released VR device. However, should a man be forced out of his job because people don’t agree with him? Should gamers, around the world, potentially miss out on a new game or experience because of someone’s personal beliefs?
But where do we draw the line in terms of morality, is it okay to accept/excuse a member of the Gestapo because they supported Hitler and it is their right to their belief? (Not saying Trump is Hitler, merely positing a hypothetical).
What do you think of this? It is a complicated situation. Will other developers come out in protest to Palmer Luckey? Do you think what the developers are doing is fair? Let us know in the comments or on the RGM Forums.