Now that Facebook is Meta, and the company is all-in on the Metaverse, VR is a bigger focus than social. The company has a strong VR infrastructure already, but its future is changing.
Oculus and Beyond
Clearly, the Oculus brand is going to be an important part of the Meta ecosystem going forward. Or, you might have expected that to be the case until the company announced that Oculus is no more. The brand is being ushered into the sunset, with the hardware and software receiving Meta branding going forward. The Oculus Quest from Facebook will become the Meta Quest and the Oculus App will become the Meta Quest App.
Being as Oculus is the best-known brand in VR hardware, the rebranding seems like a mistake, especially at a time when the company is leaning even heavier into VR. Yes, unifying things under the Meta brand seems like a good idea during a rebranding effort, but it would likely have been a better move after the future of the Metaverse is better established.
Facebook Out at Meta
Not only is the name of the company and of Oculus changing, but so is the process for using the hardware. The company implemented a requirement recently that makes all users sign in using a Facebook account. This was such a unpopular decision that there is an unofficial build of the headset's firmware and operating system that removes the requirement, and it is popular. In fact, one of our team uses it on his personal headset.
But, the negative response to the requirement, as well as the new divisions of the company, brings us a great change: an end to Facebook logins. Eventually. The company has said that it is working to decouple the Facebook login requirement from the ecosystem. This, legitimately, might be the best part of the entire presentation.
Gaming on Meta
But, the Oculus brand did have some exciting stuff to show off, including another return to San Andreas in GTA: San Andreas VR. Rockstar has been milking the remake cow a lot lately, but this at least adds something new to the older experience. Unfortunately, that is all you get for now, so everything else is speculation.
Based on other VR implementations of traditional games, we can expect to be able to explore the traditional Grand Theft Auto open-world environment from San Andreas, but from a first-person perspective. Open-world games tend to do well in virtual reality, but it does seem like this game might get weird in first-person. The franchise famously has you beating up hookers and carjacking innocent motorists, and making it feel more real might not make it a better experience. It might actually make playing the game truly traumatizing.
We also got a small teaser for Beat Saber, the most popular rhythm game for VR. The developer has previously said that a "an amazing lineup of artists" is coming in 2022, but you don't get to see any of that either. Instead, you get this 12 seconds of nothing.