Anton Hand is an indie VR developer with RUST LTD, who is the project lead for Hotdogs, Horseshoes, & Hand Grenades. Hand made the decision sometime in 2016 to not explicitly support any Facebook APIs or hardware for his indie VR project beyond what is afforded within the cross-platform Steam VR APIs.
He’s also taken a lot of public positions against Facebook over the years, which has meant that a number of disgruntled developers have shared with him some of their more negative experiences with dealing with Facebook developer relations. He says that it’s been a bit of an open secret within the VR development community that many people have had bad experiences with Facebook’s developer relations, and he shares some of his own personal experiences and generalizes some anecdotes of what ends up being a lot of one-way communication with Facebook. Some more specific grieviences were aired over the past couple of days by BigScreen developer Darshan Shankar and former AltSpaceVR developer Greg Fodor
We talk about the sad state of developer relationship withing the broader XR ecosystem as detailed in his Twitter thread:
Don't think people realize how much harder it is to stay afloat in VR without dealing with FB. There is no second party that actually 'gives a shit' in some substantive way.
— Doomer-ton (@AntonHand) August 18, 2020
I feel like Hand and I are temperamentally on opposites sides of the spectrum between pessimism vs optimism and realism vs idealism, and the truth is likely somewhere in the middle. Or perhaps that’s my optimistic idealism hoping for the best possible outcome beyond what Hand describes as the VR community helping to “build a hellish corpo-panopticon.”
Either way, Hand choice to not to do business with Facebook in any fashion has given him the freedom to speak about a lot of topics that other VR developers avoid discussing on the record. If there are deeper patterns of bad behavior from Facebook relative to independent developers, then it’s worth overcoming some of the chilling effects and speaking out and I’m happy to listen to other experiences that folks would like to share with the larger community.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST
Here are some other comments from VR developers about Facebook’s behaviors that have come up in the past couple of days:
Let's talk about how Facebook is screwing us in VR.
A major use case of @BigscreenVR is like the "iTunes of VR": we offer 3D movie rentals for $4.99.
— Darshan Shankar (@DShankar) August 18, 2020
When AltspaceVR was in trouble they pretended like they were going to buy us to come build Venues, did the whole dance, and then in the last minute backed out and said to leadership they were looking forward to hiring us. Ruthless, basically.
— Greg Fodor (@gfodor) August 18, 2020
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