Farewell to a pioneer (bought in 2014 by Facebook). The latest virtual reality headsets from Facebook will be called Meta Quest – a reference to the futuristic world of the firm – thus killing the Oculus brand.
Oculus is no more. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has just announced that the company and its associated brands will be reorganized into a parent company now called Meta. In addition to a sprawling vision of the future of social networks and the web, which gives a large place to virtual reality and augmented reality, surprising information has been communicated: the Oculus brand of Facebook will be put aside. While Meta will continue to develop virtual reality (VR) headsets, and has even announced an upcoming model codenamed Project Cambra, the Oculus brand, recently updated with the Quest 2, will be rebranded as Meta Quest.
Facebook turns the page with Meta
Oculus started out as an independent company, developing and selling its first Oculus Rift headset as a PC VR gaming accessory on Kickstarter in 2012. The initial technology was a game-changer, reviving interest in virtual reality and creating more or less the modern VR gaming landscape in one fell swoop. Competition from several major companies followed, including a partnership between Valve and HTC that spawned the Vive line of headsets. Facebook bought Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion, and has slowly insinuated itself into the company and its platform, to the point where they are more or less indistinguishable. Oculus lost interest in PC gaming in favor of more user-friendly standalone hardware, the Oculus Go and Quest, which is now so integrated with Facebook that it requires a Facebook account to set it up.
After launching in 2012, Oculus VR was acquired by Facebook in March 2014 for $2 billion. (Credit: Hayden Dingman/IDG)
Last year, Facebook renamed its own internal virtual reality and augmented reality development teams “Facebook Reality Labs.” According to Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth, Oculus’ internal organization will now (also) be called Reality Labs. Virtual reality will be the most immersive way for people to access the metaverse, said Andrew Bosworth, referring to the parent company’s ambition for a fully connected world with varying levels of virtual and augmented reality. The Meta Horizon brand, which designates the new company’s virtual meeting and chatting spaces, will be promoted through the hardware. To this end, Facebook recently launched an open beta version of its Horizon Workrooms which allows you to find yourself, helmet on your head, in a virtual team in the form of animated avatars.
A change made in 2022
Consumers will switch from the Oculus brand to the Meta brand in early 2022, with the Meta Quest 2 and the Meta Quest app both expected to change names and visuals. While Facebook/Meta’s focus seems to be shifting away from gaming towards embedding VR into the wider culture, initial reactions from VR game fans are particularly bitter. It probably has a lot to do with the current Facebook controversy. The recent Facebook Papers leak paints the picture of a company that deliberately ignores the effect it has on its own users and on broader societal structures. The rebranding was accompanied by at least one unambiguous positive news: Meta will allow users to access its Quest platform without a Facebook account from 2022.