Virtual Reality, or VR for short, is a rather recent revelation in the world of tech. That being said, it’s applications in the field of video gaming in particular have seen it rise to the forefront and has brought immense success. From humble beginnings, Oculus is another crowdfunded success story that truly highlights the potential of the platform. In 2012, Palmer Luckey, working out of his parent’s garage, decided to put the idea for Oculus Rift on kickstarter. Luckey, who was attending community college at the time, had been working on significant developments in VR and had received praise from the likes of Gabe Newell, the head of Valve Software and ID’s John Carmack. Prompted by the positive reception to his ideas from titans in the gaming industry, Luckey launched his first wave of kickstarted funding, requesting $250,000 to get Oculus up and running.
Initially, Oculus Rift promised to bring an immersive VR headset with a large field of view and negligible amounts of latency, thereby showing massive potential to video games in particular. Given the rapid growth of the gaming industry in recent times, the response to the well-publicized kickstarter debut of Oculus was immense. Lucky exceeded his initial goal of $250,000 and eventually ended his kickstarter campaign after successfully generating over $2.4 million in investment. With this figure becoming extremely well-publicized, numerous video game developers also expressed interest into developing games in collaboration with Oculus. Minecraft, Doom and Team Fortress, to name a few, were titles thrown into the mix to drive Oculus’ popularity even further.
Oculus Rift had also generated a ton of interest among the gaming community in general, and so, fan-made projects began to enter the fray. Modding communities, for instance, began to develop VR-compatible mods to popular, generation-defining titles, such as Skyrim. Due to the considerable financial success that Oculus had stirred on kickstarter, and growing interest among the public, Luckey was able to begin developments on VR kits, featuring the headset, and launch them to the public in April of 2013. At this juncture, Oculus also managed to entice top talent from other leading titans of the industry, including upper-tier employees at companies like Valve, ID, Bethesda and Electronic Arts. After this first crowdfunded wave of success, Oculus garnered an additional $16 million in investment, facilitating the implementation of the platform onto a much larger, consumer-friendly scale, bringing Oculus Rift to PC, Mac and Linux. In December of the same year, Oculus received another $84 million in funding, as the industry had become convinced of its commercial viability. Moreover, titans like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo had all embraced the platform, further bolstering its credibility.
Oculus even managed to develop Rift-exclusive titles, such as EVE:Valkyrie, leading to kits being sold out worldwide. To give you a better idea, over 60,000 units were sold in 2013, after which Oculus announced an upgraded version – the DK2, which retailed at $350. The excitement and interest generated by Oculus was unparalleled, leading to immense success and ultimately, in March of 2014, commanded a $2 billion buyout from Facebook, who absorbed Oculus on the promise that Oculus would still function independently, and in the words of co-founder Brendan Iribe, “let them do what they want.”
Figure out why people should care
Many entrepreneurs don’t even tell their families about their idea. They’re scared of being one of the bad ones. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; the less you talk about your campaign, the fewer people will see it, and your chances of getting funded shrink to nothing.