Palmer Luckey’s seemingly sudden departure from Oculus was “a long time coming,” according to SuperData’s VP of research and strategy and head of VR/AR strategy Stephanie Llamas, after his role had “become increasingly redundant” in the wake of Oculus’ lawsuit with ZeniMax.
“Oculus is failing compared to its competitors and Luckey’s reputation certainly hasn’t helped. With his donation scandal [to an anti-Clinton site] and his part in the ZeniMax lawsuit [where he was cited as breaking an NDA], Facebook has pushed him further and further into the background,” Llamas told MCV.
“HTC Vive has been outselling their device almost two-to-one, a company that has been incredibly vocal about expanding the VR ecosystem for the good of the industry, not just the company, and has made a strong push for non-gaming content. Oculus needs to compete with that, and after a slew of bad press that mostly centers on Luckey, this seems like the natural next step.”
She added: “The bad press hasn’t necessarily been a deal breaker for consumers, but content creators are getting spooked. Not only are they grappling with Oculus’s poor reputation and underwhelming sales, ZeniMax’s injunction could potentially affect the majority of their developers. That is partly why Facebook is throwing money at developers to create exclusive content for the device and cutting their prices to attract more consumers for developers to access.”
Meanwhile, one upside of Luckey’s departure is that it could propel Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg into a more prominent position as a VR advocate, Llamas added.
“Mark Zuckerberg has been a positive and charismatic supporter of Oculus and has served as a far more powerful spokesperson for the company. Luckey’s departure, and Iribe’s role change, push Zuckerberg further into the spotlight, a strategy that will serve both Facebook and Oculus well.”