Last week, Oculus VR was one of the most loved companies in the gaming world. Today, it's in damage control mode.
Facebook's $2 billion acquisition of the virtual reality headset company shocked gamers and game makers alike, who worry that the new owners will lessen the impact Oculus has on the videogame industry.
Oculus has long been a brand of the people — it raised more than $2.4 million on Kickstarter in September 2012 — but many of its backers were quick to voice their displeasure after the deal was announced Tuesday. Former fans posted links (which were quickly upvoted by Reddit members) on how to cancel pre-orders.
"You selling out to Facebook is a disgrace," backer Sergey Chubukov wrote on the Oculus Kickstarter page. "It damages not only your reputation, but the whole of crowdfunding. I cannot put into words how betrayed I feel by this."
"No one knows how Facebook will influence the Rift development, maybe something good will come out of it eventually," added backer Mathias Hagstrom, referring to Oculus' headset. "But ... Facebook does not have a vision I feel passionate about. I think most of us backers ... felt extremely passionate about the Rift. We all took ownership of this project way beyond our pledge. We followed your every step and shared your achievements and our excitement with friends across the internet and in real life. ... Today it is difficult not to (feel) left behind."
Facebook and Oculus officials did not immediately respond to CNBC requests for comment.
Some prominent game developers joined in that protest. Minecraft creator Markus 'Notch' Persson said he had canceled plans to work on an Oculus Rift version of the hit game, which has sold more than 14 million copies.
"I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook," he wrote. "Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven't historically been a stable platform. There's nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me. And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition."
Oculus founder Palmer Luckey tried to assure supporters that gaming was still a focus for the company — and that nothing had changed about its strategy.
"This is a special moment for the gaming industry — Oculus' somewhat unpredictable future just became crystal clear: virtual reality is coming, and it's going to change the way we play games forever," he said in a blog post.
It's worth noting that the company still isn't even willing to talk about the Rift as a commercially available product. It's still in the R&D phase, said Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, who won't even commit to a 2014 release for the product.
"We're not going to ship until we have a version that delivers a highly immersive, comfortable experience at a low price," Iribe told CNBC.com at January's CES. "I don't mean just the foam padding and things like that. The experience of virtual reality has to be comfortable. VR has never been close to comfortable. We're confident we will deliver a very comfortable experience for version one. It's my belief that the age of 2-D monitors has run its course."
While Facebook's big dollar acquisition is dominating VR headlines, Oculus was hardly the only company working in the space.
Last week, Sony unveiled its own virtual reality headset — codenamed Project Morpheus — at the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco. And gamer disappointment about Oculus' purchase could boost that platform.
"At SCE we view innovation as an opportunity to build on our mission to push the boundaries of play," said Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios.
Microsoft, meanwhile, hasn't announced any virtual reality products of its own, but Phil Spencer, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Studios, addressed the topic at GDC, saying VR was "definitely something that we've been playing with for quite awhile."