Meta has shipped six virtual reality headsets in seven years. Only one has been an obvious success.
The company sold 20 million Quest headsets, primarily the Quest 2, as sheltering-in-place adults tried to escape their homes (and take care of tweens!) during the early part of the pandemic. Since then, Meta has struggled to justify why it rebranded its entire company around the metaverse, a concept it’s only just now beginning to offer in an intriguingly tangible way.
Tomorrow, when Meta tries to sell you a $500 Meta Quest 3, it’s going to have to do better.
And he might really use them soon, because this may be the last time Meta has the table to himself.
- Apple hasn’t released its Vision Pro yet, and while my boss Nilay Patel called it “the best headphone demo ever created,” the first version will be an incredibly expensive $3,500 headphone that’s mostly a TV. (That’s all I’ll say about Apple, since I’m ethically obligated.)
- Sony’s PlayStation VR2 got off to an incredibly slow start. I haven’t picked up my review unit in years. grand tourism Despite everything, there has been absolutely nothing that has tempted me to abandon one of the best flat screen video game series we have seen in years.
- Valve’s SteamVR Platform had been stagnant since then Half-life: Alyxdebut in March 2020, and more than half of Steam users They’re using Meta headsets to play those games anyway, but it looks like Valve is about to come back with a bang.
- HTC abandoned consumer virtual reality years ago.
- Microsoft Windows mixed reality site is still promoting an HP headset first released in 2020.
- Samsung and Google abandoned virtual reality when phone-based headsets turned out to be a dead end.
Right now, Meta still has a chance to convince all potential VR headset buyers that they should go with a Quest 3 instead of whatever those companies might do next. Valve, in particular, appears to be preparing to follow Meta’s lead with a more affordable headset that may not require a PC.
On the hardware front, I expect the Quest 3 to impress: on paper and in pictures, the Quest 3 looks like an improvement in almost every way possible: smaller, lighter, twice as powerful, depth-sensing, improved haptics and nothing more. Flimsy plastic rings on controllers for you to break and throw away.
But at $499, it costs as much as a PS5 or an Xbox Series Let’s review:
You were slightly burned if you accepted Meta’s vision of a gaming PC connected to a high-end wired headset, as it ditched them in favor of the largely wireless Quest. But if you accepted Quest, you’ll get to watch Meta inexplicably take away one of the most important games from him. Either way, you got burned again when Meta shut down the flagship launch title. Echo VRan awesome game that just needed less swearing from teenagers, and then it got burned again when Meta closed three more titles, including both Dead and buried Wild West shootout games without even an explanation last week.
Many gamers have distrusted Facebook for reasons that have nothing to do with a Cambridge Analytica data theft. It has a lot to do with whether your heart is in gaming, or simply in that nebulous “metaverse” that you would one day like to sell eye-tracking ads against, or in the future of remote work with Zoom, although it is now forcing its own employees to back down. to the office, or fitness apps like Supernatural (admittedly good) that he started buying two years ago.
Meta could counter that by investing your money in a great app, something on the scale of aura – who sold the famous original Xbox – or golden eye for the N64, or Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the switch. Right now, the closest thing we have is pistol whip and Beat sabera couple of excellent exercise games that aren’t exclusive to Meta and aren’t the kind of masterpieces that leave you living on the console.
Maybe Meta has already made such a game or is building one right now. The company certainly has quite a few game studios under its belt: it bought so many developers in 2021 that the FTC not only took a look but also filed a lawsuit to block Meta’s purchase of Supernatural. Meta finally won. But if Meta started the clock on 2021, it may not be enough: aura It spent four years in development. Breath of the wild took five.
Maybe Meta will simply convince the big game companies that it’s finally worth their time. Last Friday, Ubisoft revealed that Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR it would be “a full Assassin’s Creed game” that “is only available in virtual reality.” I’m pretty sure Samsung could convince Ubisoft to put the game on a smart refrigerator if necessary, but even the willingness to say “full VR exclusive” will perk up some ears.
And yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg seemed to mock an official Lego mixed reality experience. It turns out that Lego is partnering with Epic in a new metaverse, one in which the family behind Lego has contributed a lot of funding, although we have not yet confirmed a link between Meta and Epic. Speaking of bricks, an open beta of Roblox for Quest has already been downloaded more than 1 million times.
I don’t know what Meta might reveal in terms of games that can actually compete for our attention, but I do know that a more capable piece of hardware won’t be enough on its own. I’ve been a believer since I first tried a taped-up Oculus Rift prototype. I really hope Quest 3 finally delivers the kind of unique VR masterpiece that grabs me and won’t let go.