Oculus is being killed off in favour of Facebook’s new Meta brand

Oculus Quest Header

Facebook has rebranded itself, the overarching company that owns Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and others now calling itself Meta as they try to make an interconnected ‘metaverse’ of apps and experiences a thing. The first step of that seems to be killing off the Oculus brand for the company’s VR platform. Going forward the Oculus Quest line of VR headsets will be known as Meta Quest, while the VR games, features and experiences that the company releases will be preceded by Horizon branding.

The company has already released Horizon Workrooms and Horizon Worlds, and this will expand to include Horizon Home, Horizon Venues and more.

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VP of Augmented and Virtual Reality at Facebook Andrew Bosworth explained the process and decision in a Facebook post.

VR will be the most immersive way for people to access the metaverse and as we look toward our goal of bringing 1B people into VR, we want to make it clear that Quest is a Meta product. For this reason, we’re simplifying our brand architecture and shifting away from the Oculus brand for our hardware. Starting in early 2022, you’ll start to see the shift from Oculus Quest from Facebook to Meta Quest and Oculus App to Meta Quest App over time.

We all have a strong attachment to the Oculus brand, and this was a very difficult decision to make. While we’re changing the brand of the hardware, Oculus will continue to be a core part of our DNA and will live on in things like software and developer tools.

Facebook (sorry… Meta) is the latest company to jump onto the metaverse bandwagon, with companies such as Epic Games and Roblox also pitching their video game and technological platforms as gateways to a metaverse of different experiences.

So what is this metaverse that they keep banging on about? Well, basically Zuckerberg wants his company to have a major role in whatever the next step of digital interaction will be. Seemingly that’s a boat load of virtual reality, augmented reality and hanging out in fantastical digitally rendered spaces ripped out of Ready Player One.

Here’s the demo where the company pieces together meeting up in a VR space station, the idea that graffiti artists will go all in on creating augmented reality stuff, which is time limited to view unless you tip them, flying Koi fish in a forest (which sounds more like a bug than a feature), and receiving video calls in VR.

So it basically looks like Rec Room, but with much more impressive graphics, utterly unrealistic physics, animation and movement for any current day real time video game, and with connections to external communication sources.

A key part of this will be the new Project Cambria VR headset that will include more sensors so that your digital avatar can make more natural eye contact and facial expressions. This will be a higher end headset, while the Quest 2 continues to provide a lower end entry point.

There’s also augmented reality glasses that will take yet another stab at making Minority Report’s floating computer UI a thing, as well as holding design meetings while one of you is in the park.

Meta aims to be a lynchpin of this metaverse, but also expects that they will have to work with and connect with other companies. Digital ownership will be a key factor so that you can take your favourite avatar and look from one thing to another, and that might lean on the ecologically harmful NFTs or some other kind of less power-hungry shared framework. VP of Global Affairs Nick Clegg – yes, it’s really that Nick Clegg – stated that “the metaverse isn’t a single product one company can build alone” and that it would exist “whether Facebook is there or not”. He also states that it will take 10-15 years before all of this becomes a meaningful reality.

But back to Oculus. Alongside the rebranding we also have a belated response to the unpopular decision to force all Oculus Quest users to tie their headset to a Facebook account. The company is to phase out this requirement over the coming months and years. You’ll soon be able to log into Quest with something that isn’t a personal Facebook account again, with the first step of that to allow for business Facebook accounts to manage access for employees.

“As we’ve focused more on work, and frankly as we’ve heard your feedback more broadly, we’re working on making it so you can log into Quest with an account other than your personal Facebook account,” Zuckerberg said during his Facebook Connect keynote that announced the rebranding. “We’re starting to test support for Work Accounts soon, and we’re working on making a broader shift here within the next year.”

Of course, you might no longer have to have a personal Facebook account directly linked to your VR headset profile, but the last few years has seen all of the user data between WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Oculus be consolidated together.

Data privacy and the impact that Facebook and its platforms have had on society have been key topics over the past weeks, months and years. The rebrand and new statement of intent might help distract from some of the bad press that Facebook has had recently, in particular when former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked internal documents that show Facebook’s own internal research has indicated just how harmful the social media platform has been in perpetuating extremist views and hate speech.

Let’s not forget that the digital metaverses found in Ready Player One and Snow Crash (the book that first coined the phrase) were a cover for a high-tech, mega corporation dystopia.

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1 Comment

  1. I think you slightly miss the point by stating Facebook, or whatever they call themselves now, recently ‘had some bad press’.

    Of course, reality is complex, especially in a huge organisation, and there’s always different people with different goals, etc. But, overall, I think it is pretty fair to say that Facebook (or at the very least that idiot Zuckerberg and all of his leadership crew) are a bunch of morally totally corrupt bastards, they’re in the same category of arms dealers going for profit with no conscience or remorse or any moral standards. They’d rob and kill every single one of us if they saw a profit in it and had a chance to get away with it, just like they murder off privacy and lie about it whenever they can.

    Therefore, this meta vision of degenerate Zuckerberg reminds me more of the Matrix than anything else, it’s a dystopian future they just started to try to sell to us, and for once I strongly hope technology doesn’t advance too quickly and that humankind are still to clever to avoid the worst.

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