Unlucky Luckey: Oculus developers invoke anti-douchebag clause, halt games for VR goggles
Founder's funding of Trump trolls sparks backlash
A number of game developers have decided to end their support of the Oculus virtual reality headset over reports that its founder Palmer Luckey is actively funding "Trump trolls."
Kokoromi, Polytron, Scruta Games, Tomorrow Today Labs and developer Augustin Cordes are among those who have publicly denounced Luckey's actions and said they will not release versions of their games for the Facebook-owned hardware.
"Hey @oculus, @PalmerLuckey's actions are unacceptable. NewtonVR will not be supporting the Oculus Touch as long as he is employed there," tweeted Tomorrow Today Labs. Shortly after, Scruta Games also tweeted: "Until @PalmerLuckey steps down from his position at @oculus, we will be cancelling Oculus support for our games."
Kokoromi and Polytron, whose Superhypercube game will be released for PlayStation VR next month, noted: "In a political climate as fragile and horrifying as this one, we cannot tacitly endorse these actions by supporting Luckey or his platform. In light of this, we will not be pursuing Oculus support for our upcoming VR release."
Late last week, The Daily Beast revealed that Luckey was behind a $10,000 donation to a group called Nimble America dedicated to creating and spreading memes that attack Hillary Clinton. In one case, the group took out a giant billboard ad in Pittsburgh with a picture of Clinton's face and the tagline "Too Big to Jail."
In addition to the donation, which Luckey confirmed he made, the 24-year-old also posted a number of obnoxious messages on a pro-Trump Reddit thread under the pseudonym NimbleRichMan in which he boasted about his wealth and argued that the group's actions were necessary because "you can't fight the American elite without serious firepower. They will outspend you and destroy you by any and all means."
In the post, he offered to use his wealth to support the group: "For the next 48 hours, I will match your donations dollar for dollar. Donate $10 and I will match you by flying my jet a minute less. Donate a hundred and I will match you by skipping a glass of scotch. Donate a thousand and I will match by putting off the tire change on my car. Am I bragging? Will people be offended? Yes, but those people already hate Donald. They cannot stand to see successful people who are proud of their success."
Luckey is worth several hundred millions dollars thanks to the sale of Oculus to Facebook for $2bn in 2014.
There may be trouble ahead
Oculus is reliant on third-party developers to make its business a success, so the threat of a boycott is a serious issue. As another person who has previously supported Oculus, Mark Sumner, noted: "Oculus is FAR from the only product on the VR market. And it can just gather dust from now on."
Since his role in the group was exposed, Luckey has made a number of conflicting statements. In response to the outrage, he posted a Facebook update in which he admitted the donation and noted that he was "deeply sorry that my actions are negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners."
He went on to claim, however, that he did not write the posts attributed to him by "NimbleRichMan" and that he was not a "founder or employee" of the group. Those claims went against what Luckey has previously admitted to.
Emails showed Luckey admitting that he wrote at least some of the posts – including one that asked for donations and described Hillary Clinton as "a freedom-stripper: not the good kind you see dancing in bikinis on independence day." The group also listed Luckey as a vice president on its website.
With the presidential elections just over a month away and the first presidential debate Monday bringing it to a fever pitch, the involvement of Luckey in distasteful attack politics has put his actions in the spotlight.
"My actions were my own and do not represent Oculus. I'm sorry for the impact my actions are having on the community," he concluded his post.
The company's CEO made the same argument in another post backing him up. "I know that Palmer is deeply sorry for the impact this situation is having on the company, our partners and the industry," said Brendan Iribe.
"Everyone at Oculus is free to support the issues or causes that matter to them, whether or not we agree with those views. It is important to remember that Palmer acted independently in a personal capacity, and was in no way representing the company."
But for many Oculus developers, the closing statement of Kokoromi and Polytron resonates more: "If you are a voting citizen of the United States, please remember to register and make your voice heard this November 8th. Do not let bigotry, white supremacy, hate and fear win." ®