Having founded Oculus in 2012 and been an important face for the company throughout its growth from fledgling startup to $2 billion acquisition by Facebook and beyond, it was a shock to see Palmer Luckey leave the company just two months ago. Having shied away from the public eye since September 2016 after the ousting of a polarizing political position, Luckey has gone on record in an interview for the first time since leaving the company.

Palmer Luckey throws swag to the crowd at Oculus Connect 2 | Photo courtesy Oculus

Speaking with MoguraVR during a trip to Tokushima, Japan to attend the anime event Machi Asobi, Luckey opened up in Part 1 about his personal hobby of cosplay—a freedom he didn’t have while at Facebook—the Japanese VR market, and the future of VR headsets. In Part 2, he talks about virtual relationships, an obsession with Pokémon Go, and he teases what he’s working on next.

Update: Part 3 of Luckey’s interview has been published.

Half-Life 2: VR dev Marulu translated the article, which was originally published in Japanese, for Road to VR.


Palmer’s Passion for VR

tf2 oculus rift palmer luckey heavy
Palmer wears a Rift DK1, circa 2013 | Photo courtesy Oculus

MoguraVR:

From where does your passion for VR come from nowadays?

Palmer Luckey:

A few years have passed since I founded Oculus. I now have more passion for VR than ever before. Before Oculus was founded VR was just my hobby side project. Ever since founding Oculus I have been devoting every single day of my life towards VR. I have tried almost all the VR content & hardware and I have met devs from almost all VR studios. Over the last few years I have become more confident that VR will become mainstream. On an almost weekly basis I find content that makes me want to say: ‘VR is the future, I have to make the future of VR happen sooner.’ What I fear the most at the moment is that the speed at which VR is spreading at is not fast enough, and that people are going to lose their excitement for VR at this rate.

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What motivates me right now is ‘How can we make VR more attractive for everyone’, ‘How can we speed up the popularization of VR?’ and ‘How can we help VR developers to succeed as a business?’ At the moment it is difficult for VR developers to support themselves just with developing VR content.

MoguraVR:

So enthusiasm for VR is getting even bigger?

Palmer Luckey:

People are more passionate than ever. Of course sometimes there are arguments about it. But that is to be expected. It now has been five years since I founded Oculus in 2012, if you had told me back then that VR is going to be this successful this fast I would have not been confident in that. I would have thought you are insane.

MoguraVR:

How were the five years after funding Oculus?

Palmer Luckey:

It went by really fast, I can’t even believe that it really has been five years. Every day of my life was fulfilled, looking back at it the time it really went by in a flash.

A Sci-fi World for Car Fanatics

MoguraVR:

I think we should change the subject. Palmer you were influenced from the sci-fi novel Snow Crash (1992) if I recall right. Many people are thinking that as technology progresses we are getting closer to a sci-fi world, if you had to create an anime right now what would it be about? What kind of future do you imagine?

Palmer Luckey:

The truth is I actually have several ideas for a sci-fi anime. It’s something I think about in my spare time but I don’t know if I ever will realize them.

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One of them is about a future in which automation is commonplace. All cars are self-driving and all the work is done by computers. Humans no longer know how to drive a car and have become unable to think with their own heads. (They are relying on machines to think.) Individuality has disappeared. The only exception is a group that is rebelling against this society. They can assemble, repair, and drive their own cars. They do not use any handy technology like computers and are thinking with their own heads, they are living freely without being swallowed up by the system.

MoguraVR:

Is this a dystopian future like the ones you see in The Matrix (1999) and The Terminator (1984)?

Palmer Luckey:

What I want to depict is a good future. It is not a dystopia where the machines are controlling everything. But you could say that it is a bit like a dystopia. I want to show how technology that is good for society can at the same time make society lose it’s greatest strength, individuality. In opposition to this the Rebel group members are proud of their individuality and want to display it.

MoguraVR:

By the way, how is VR doing in such a world?

Palmer Luckey:

In this story VR does makes almost no appearances. That actually is a problem I had when writing these stories, if there is a sci-fi world in which VR has become commonplace, there would no longer be a need for cars [laughs].

MoguraVR:

Haha, yes there no longer would be any need for transportation.

Palmer Luckey:

Indeed, if everything is available in VR everyone would spend most of their time in VR and would only very rarely leave VR.

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Sword Art Online and VR in the Zeitgeist

Sword Art Online

MoguraVR:

In Sword Art Online (2012) VR is being depicted as extremely attractive.

Palmer Luckey:

Really? Don’t you die in SAO [laughs]? But even though such terrible things have happened in Aincrad everyone is still playing  [fictional] VR games such as Alfheim Online and Gun Gale Online.

MoguraVR:

Yes, they don’t seem to learn their lesson.

Palmer Luckey:

Thanks to SAO’s popularity in Japan there are now a few PC VR gamers in Japan, SAO made the concept of VR easy to understand. The US had a distorted view of view of VR because of the movie The Matrix, but that image is gradually changing. Samsung ran a VR commercial during the Super Bowl, the response of the millions of people that watched it was very positive.

MoguraVR:

Is the amount of ads for VR in the USA increasing?

Palmer Luckey:

It is increasing considerably. For example there was a Samsung commercial in which a ostrich wears a Gear VR that played in US cinemas. [link to commercial]

Continued on Page 2: Virtual Relationships »

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  • Ombra Alberto

    Nice artikel.

    • Tommy

      Tu la. Palmer rocks. Met him in person before. Memang passionate diorang.

    • NooYawker

      Too smart for his supporters to get it.

  • towblerone

    Love it. Palmer is the man. Can’t wait to see what he does next.

  • Ashwin

    long live Palmer, what is this new “project” all about, really intriguing.

  • Dotcommer

    Yeah, good luck getting any new ideas off the ground with your new found notoriety. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be associated with a political troll with frighteningly right-wing beliefs.

    • JW

      There are people out there who actually don’t care what his personal opinion is and just care about his innovation to the world. What if Thomas Edison was a ‘far right’ conservative? Would you not want to use any of his innovations? Thought so.

      • Sam Kennedy

        So true, would we deny electricity or the invention of the CPU or any of the great software innovations of our time because of the inventors political views. The thought is laughable and you are far too consumed with politics if that is your rationale. I believe in diversity of thought , I think that is the most important diversity and that includes people that have right wing views that I do no believe in (or left for that matter) , not all people with different views than you are stupid or ignorant in fact some times you can learn and better yourself from listening to views you may not agree with.

        Its certainly better than living in a bubble or an echo chamber where you shut out anyone that doesn’t agree with your views, like the above poster (dotcommer) seems to believe in. I liked palmer and his unadulterated passion for VR before his political views where known and knowing his political views certainly isnt going to change that for me.

        • Nimblerichman

          Sure, why not. Long live the Nazis and Palmer Luckey!!!

      • MaruluGames

        Here is a good example of this: most of the technology used in the Apollo mission rockets is based on Nazi technology and the US recruited all the Nazi scientists in operation paperclip.

        • Get Schwifty!

          Not quite true – but the principle holds. Basic rocketry yes. There were two teams, one US and one comprised of the former Germans. Early rockets in the US were the German camp, later on virtually all the US program rockets were developed by the US team with considerable differences in systems – notably less safe than he German team. The problem was the German teams pace and designs were deemed too “safe” to meet the program goals in a meaningful time.

          • Nimblerichman

            If people weren’t so politically correct these days Palmer could have been the next Hitler.

    • polysix

      Give it a rest, you are in a MINORITY it case you hadn’t noticed. A loud, whining minority sure but a minority none the less.

      Palmer will be fine, I’ll support his future work over Suckerberg and Facebook any day! Facebook are doing far worse things to humanity than throwing a little cash at a shit-posting group (that didn’t even count in the end as Trump won anyway)

      • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

        Dotcommer definitely isn’t in the minority.

        Any product/project that Palmer gets involved with will raise questions about those that employ/back him. Not only that, his involvement with the alt-right Nimble America and his backing of Trump, including his $100,000 donation to Trump’s inauguration, will overshadow any project that he gets involved with. Just go and reread the first paragraph in the article above for an example of what I’m getting at.

        • Surykaty

          But did he get involved with the alt-right at all? HE DID NOT.. it’s fakle news you moron.. just go and do your research.. what a pretentious and lazy piece of shit you are

    • polysix

      Btw think about “frighteningly left wing beliefs” also. Pot meet kettle. Far left is the new Far right (but more dangerous to its own citizens). You sheep you.

    • NooYawker

      History has shown that business doesn’t care how big a scumbag you are as long as they think you can produce a profit for them. He has plenty of like minded supporters, he has nothing to worry about.

    • Ted Joseph

      I actually am a conservative, and like Trump’s ideas. He is at least trying something dammit! Most politicians are incompetent hacks. Didn’t Billy Clinton say North Korea would never get a nuke!? Back on topic. I love VR! Cant wait to see what the future brings!

    • Surykaty

      Frighteningly right wing?? Like freedom, personal responsibility, smaller government? We are not talking about republicans here… Palmer likes to troll the shit out of stupid liberals.. that is ok in my book!

  • Arv

    About Palmer’s anime idea. 2 words – Red Barchetta. An awesome song by the Canadian prog rock band Rush. He needs to check it out, it has a very similar story. :oD

  • polysix

    Can’t really describe how HAPPY I am that Facebook actually ‘released’ Palmer from their evil grasp. Palmer is now free to pursue pure VR in an idealistic, not traffic/data farming way as possible. Just like his original goal.

    Come on Palmer, we’re behind you man! (and that’s from an Ex Viver, DK2er, PSVRer and someone who will NEVER buy a Facebook HMD so no rift for me).

  • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

    “I think we should change the subject.”

    They should’ve pushed him to answer questions about the alt-right, Milo and his love for Trump. You know, relevant questions not fanboy questions.

    • Surykaty

      Relevant??

      He’s a right winger just like I am… he obviously likes to make fun of crazy liberals and SJWs like I do… he’s an enterpreneur and tinkerer at heart.. and that requires freedom which is something that the left hates. I am from an ex-communist country and I saw how the whole equality mantra turned the country into a blood-lust, envy, corruption shithole.. I don’t need any lectures on that.

      The alt-right connection is bullcrap as he never connected himself with any of the larping nazi stuff that comes from some of the extreme dark corners of the interwebz. And Milo? The black skin loving homosexual tech writer and pretty much comedian who said it sometimes should be ok that very young gays look for relationships and protection with older gays (pederasty)? I don’t find that topic much controversial.

      Palmer just needs to take a rest before the SJW liberal movement implodes and he can get back into the limelight.

  • Ted Joseph

    Because of this man I get to enjoy Arizona Sunshine, Wilsons Heart, Robo Recall, VR Sports, VR Pool Nation, etc. I am absolutely HOOKED on VR!!! Thank you Palmer!

  • Graham J ⭐️

    First question has extra “from” in it.