So I’m pretty sure you’ve caught wind of the political circus that is the 2016 Presidential Election. Likewise, I’m sure you’ve heard shocking and incriminating stories involving both candidates. Yet perhaps the most controversial candidate of this election is none other than Donald Trump. I won’t list all of the controversial things he’s done as I’m sure you’re all well aware. We’re a little over a month out from the general election and he’s already made an indirect impact on our lives as gamers.
According to the Daily Beast, Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey was funding a pro-Trump political organization called Nimble America, a self-described “social welfare 501©4 non-profit” in support of the Republican nominee. Luckey has insisted that he’s just the group’s “money man”, yet he is also listed as the vice president of the group on its website. “I’ve got plenty of money,” Luckey told the Daily Beast. “Money is not my issue. I thought it sounded like a really jolly good time.” As it turns out, not everyone shared his enthusiasm.
In light of these reports, several developers have pulled Oculus Rift support for their games. Among the developers pulling out are: Tomorrow Today Labs, Scruta Games, and Poltroon. In a tweet sent out late Thursday evening, Tomorrow Today Labs posted:
A few hours before, Scruta Games posted something similar saying:
It wasn’t long before Polytron followed suit:
While these developers have all made a bold move in withdrawing their support from Oculus, there are other developers who also disagree with Luckey’s politics, yet are not willing to completely withdraw support. In an interview with Gamespot, developer E McNeil had this to say, “I don’t think I’m going to boycott the company based on the politics of its founder,” he said. “Instead, I gave $1000 to Hillary’s campaign in response to the news.” Similarly, Logan Olson, the creator of Vive-exclusive SoundStage, is also throwing support behind Hillary Clinton. He plans to donate all the profits from his game in the next 24 hours to her campaign. Brilliant way to separate yourself from the controversy without necessarily cutting ties with the company at the center of the controversy. Well done guys..Well done.
Of course there are other developers who think that this controversy is complete nonsense. According to a report from Motherboard, the Co-founder of Carbon Games, James Green had this to say, “This backlash is nonsense, I absolutely support him doing whatever he wants politically if it’s legal. To take any other position is against American values.” I see what you did there Green. That was a very PC way of saying “Who cares!” I get it.
To be fair, Luckey did put out a statement on Facebook Friday evening in an attempt to set the record straight. He posted, “I am deeply sorry that my actions are negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners. The recent news stories about me do not accurately represent my views.” He went on to say, “I contributed $10,000 to Nimble America because I thought the organization had fresh ideas on how to communicate with young voters through the use of several billboards. I am a libertarian who has publicly supported Ron Paul and Gary Johnson in the past, and I plan on voting for Gary in this election as well.” Lackey’s full statement can be found here.
Nevertheless, it seems that all of this controversy has come at a pretty crucial time. As the VR scene is still fairly new, VR manufactures like Facebook’s Oculus Rift will need compelling games to justify consumers paying an arm and a leg for their products. Not to mention, Oculus is expected to release its Touch Hand Controllers by the end of the year.
We’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds for Oculus. I have to say though, from the outside looking in, I’m not exactly seeing rainbows and butterflies.