The United States presidential election is just a couple of months away, and the politics are starting to get insanely heated. Many have regarded this particular election as one of the most wild of all time, stating that there is no suitable candidate remaining in the race. Whatever your political views, business funding of a political candidate is often a very, very bad idea.
It was recently discovered that Palmer Luckey, co-founder of Oculus was the mastermind behind Nimble America, an organization that exists solely to promote pro-Trump and anti-Hillary memes through public advertisements. In fact, the company actually got their memes so much media attention that the “Pepe the frog” meme was just registered as an official hate symbol by the ADL, sitting alongside more serious hate symbols such as the swastika. The community has been left outraged, and so have a number of virtual reality developers.
Insomniac Games, developers of the hit franchises Ratchet and Clank, Spyro, and others released this statement regarding the situation:
Insomniac Games condemns all forms of hate speech. While everyone has a right to express his or her political opinion, the behavior and sentiments reported do not reflect the values of our company. We are also confident that this behavior and sentiment does not reflect the values of the many Oculus employees we work with on a daily basis.
That’s a pretty big hit for the Facebook-owned company. Keeping big name developers on board is something key to Oculus’ success, and is a major reason why they went all out incentivizing companies to write games exclusively for the headset.
Big companies aren’t the only ones going after the company and its founder, however.
Scruta Games had this to say about the situation in a recent tweet:
Until @PalmerLuckey steps down from his position at @oculus, we will be cancelling Oculus support for our games. It’s not about “politics”, it’s about the face of a company financially backing racist trolls. He is free to vote for whoever he pleases.
Stepping down seems like a pretty harsh punishment for something like this, but many developers feel it is justified. Since Donald Trump has often been seen as racist and hateful, backing of the candidate has been seen as an extension of this hate.
Tomorrow Today Labs also tweeted that they are pulling support until Luckey steps down:
Thirdly, Polytron Corportation, developer of hit titles such as Fez, Superhypercube, and others, were also highly appalled at the situation, and opted to pull support of the HMD from its upcoming titles:
In a political climate as fragile and horrifying as this one, we cannot tacitly endorse these actions by supporting Luckey or his platform. In light of this, we will not be pursuing Oculus support for our upcoming VR release, Superhypercube.
While we doubt that the founder will ever leave the company because of something like this, it is likely going to take quite a toll on the device in the future. Having developers leave the platform over the campaign will likely be pretty bad for the company in the long run, and there’s no telling what Facebook’s upper management could decide to do.
Meanwhile, Luckey has condemned his actions and has asked for people to view his political affiliations as his own, and not that of Oculus itself.
I am deeply sorry that my actions are negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners. I am committed to the principles of fair play and equal treatment.
Luckey was later defended by Brenden Iribe, co-founder of the company:
Everyone at Oculus is free to support the issues or causes that matter to them, whether or not we agree with those views. It is important to remember that Palmer acted independently in a personal capacity, and was in no way representing the company.
Whatever your opinion on the subject, things will likely get quite a bit more heated in the coming weeks. With Oculus Connect 3 in early October and the presidential election the month after, it’s only a matter of time until this whole situation diffuses itself a bit.