Why Reinforcing Quest Headset’s Success Is Key for Meta’s Metaverse

Much has been made of Meta Platforms’ aggressive push into (and rebranding around) the metaverse.  

It may remain easy for cynics to harp on Meta’s more-than 23% stock nosedive following the reporting of its Q4 2021 earnings in February, which revealed an operating loss of $3.3 billion.

But Wednesday’s Meta Quest Showcase successfully highlighted the core strength of Meta’s mission to define virtual spaces via its Meta Quest 2 VR headset, dropping much of its future-forward messaging for a heavily gaming-oriented presentation.

That was exactly the right call.

During the presentation, Meta AR/VR executive producer Ruth Bram acknowledged “gaming is how a lot of people will step into [the metaverse] for the first time,” before reminding that related hardware and software needs considerably more work, i.e. a timeframe of “5 to 10 years” to bring about Meta’s full intended vision of virtual reality seamlessly intertwining with everyday experiences.

Meta’s standalone Quest 2 headset dominates the current AR and VR headset market, comprising more than three quarters of all global shipments in 2021.

Understandably, this quick ascent to VR top dog is granting Quest 2 the lion’s share of virtual experiences, and the showcase’s announcements and confirmations reflect this well.

This year will see social gaming sensation “Among Us” “Resident Evil 4’s” popular “Mercenaries” mode and “NFL PRO ERA,” the first VR game to license the NFL brand, all come to the Quest 2.

But most interesting was the reveal of a “Ghostbusters VR” from nGames and Sony Pictures Virtual Reality.

In 2019, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s PlayStation VR headset was the bestselling VR brand, but the website for “Ghostbusters VR” only lists Meta Quest 2 under platforms the game will be playable on.

This seems strange, given the status of “Ghostbusters” as Sony IP. Per Bloomberg last year, SIE’s upgraded PSVR 2 headset could arrive by the end of 2022. Detailed specs have already been revealed, so it’s not ridiculous to question why PSVR isn’t mentioned anywhere alongside the official “Ghostbusters VR” announcement. It’s possible there is already a planned State of Play event for PSVR 2 that will clarify if this game will be among the headset’s launch titles.

The PSVR 2’s success will depend on gaining some ground back from Meta by providing gaming experiences unique to itself that players can’t get with the Quest 2, as Meta’s headset still has the home-field advantage of being entirely cordless and purchasable without additional hardware, as the current PSVR headset and its next iteration require PlayStation systems for use.

All the more reason for Meta to cement its headset as the home of definitive VR experiences and gain some faith back in itself at a time when gamers highly skeptical of shifting trends in the market. Just look at Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda’s continued insistence that “autonomous game content” – aka blockchain games – remains a newer priority for the Japanese publisher. This comes after Matsuda and Square Enix received heavy backlash for an earlier letter expressing the company’s desire to focus less heavily on “traditional” gaming experiences.

As active as Meta has become in the games space, Sony still has a much longer and bigger presence chock-full of original and exclusive gaming experiences.

Meta certainly has a lead over Sony when it comes to headsets, but it must remain laser-focused on gaining ground as a venerable gaming brand if that is indeed the gateway into a full-fledged metaverse reality for its consumers.

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