Here's how Facebook is helping Oculus build a digital 'metaverse'

Facebook apparently has 'really good food'

When Facebook bought Oculus VR the most skeptical among us speculated endlessly about all the ways the social network might hold virtual reality back.

But contrary to our worst fears, business at Oculus has chugged along as usual, and the latest Oculus Rift prototype - Crescent Bay - is the most impressive ever.

Not only has Facebook not tried to turn Oculus Rift into a News Feed machine, but it seems Menlo Park is legitimately accelerating Oculus's efforts and helping Oculus work toward something incredible.

At the 2014 Oculus Connect conference in Hollywood on September 20, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey explained all the benefits of working with the house that Zuck built and his dreams for the future of VR.

Now this is sci-fi

Luckey believes that there will eventually be "a digital universe parallel to our own that is perhaps using up more of our time" than the real world, the Rift creator told journalists during group interviews at the VR conference.

And it's Facebook's sheer massiveness - not its expertise with platforms, or its treasure troves of user data, or anything else - that have helped Oculus develop the technology that may ultimately be integral to this "metaverse," Luckey said.

"There's only a couple of companies in the world with the infrastructure and know-how to build a platform that can have hundreds of millions or billions of people all in one virtual space, and Facebook is one of them," Luckey said.

Thanks to Facebook's enormous infrastructure, "we've been able to stop doing a lot of bullshit that you have to do when you are a growing company," Luckey continued. "Things like legal, human resources, recruiting - those are all really hard to do in an organization, and to be honest we've been focused so much on engineering that we've not built out those teams nearly as much. Because we're now part of Facebook, they get to deal with all that."

Luckey discovered another benefit of working with large companies - the speed and ease with which they can get things done - when Oculus partnered with Samsung to make Gear VR.

"[Samsung] can have an idea and within a couple of weeks have custom components from multiple companies to make this idea possible," he said. "Facebook's given us those resources, where now we have some of that same magical superpower to move faster than we could as a little team."

"They also have really good food at Facebook," Luckey added. "We have a big cart of candy that we didn't have before."

Enter the metaverse

Luckey said the "metaverse" he envisions is part of what will attract non-gamers to virtual reality.

"You don't try to sell a non-gamer on games; you have to make things that are compelling to them," he said.

"There are lots of people who wouldn't describe themselves as gamers who go bowling, who play checkers…and they don't do it because they're excited about the game," he continued. "It's because they're excited by the people that they're with. They're excited by the social interactions and the connections with other people, and structured activities are just an excuse to get together with people."

Oculus could really be onto something if that applies to virtual space as well as to real life.