Update 4 PM ET 2/3/23: Added more information about the Echo VR shutdown per Reddit AMA with Meta's CTO.
Two Meta-owned studios announced big changes to two popular Quest games in the near future. They're not the first studios to do such a thing recently and they definitely won't be the last, and all of these announcements culminate into one big thing: the upcoming Quest 3 launch later this year is going to be huge.
Onward developer Downpour Interactive announced that it'll be sunsetting support for the original Oculus Quest, joining other developers in ditching Meta's first-generation Quest headset. But that wasn't today's biggest surprise. Rather, that award belongs to the sudden ending of support of Echo VR as of January 31.
Echo VR has long been one of our favorite Quest 2 games and is easily one of the most unique, bespoke experiences in VR. There's nothing quite like the feeling of playing sports in zero gravity and no other game on the market recreates the feeling. As of this writing, there are already over 10,000 signatures on a change.org petition to save Echo VR.
Echo VR spun off from the Lone Echo series of games, which were largely single-player driven PCVR games but saw big success on the multiplayer front. Developer Ready at Dawn — the folks responsible for The Order: 1886, God of War: Ghost of Sparta, and several others — was acquired by Meta in June 2020. Echo VR has been free-to-play since its release, bringing in revenue through season passes and cosmetic items.
So what does it all mean? Meta's first-party studios are all beginning to concentrate on the upcoming Fall release of the Meta Quest 3. Meta now owns nearly a dozen different developers and certainly has them working on not just updates for existing games but brand-new ones, as well.
Ready at Dawn's announcement says exactly that, giving players until August 1st to spend as much time in zero-g VR as humanly possible before the studio pulls the plug on the game completely. The reason? "The studio [is] coming together to focus on our next project."
Andrew Bosworth, Meta's CTO said in a Reddit AMA (per UploadVR) that management felt Ready at Dawn's talent would be better used elsewhere than to continue propping up Echo VR's infrastructure. Bosworth noted that the game featured an active player base "in the low 10 thousands" and that the game was costing Meta "precious resources."
Specifically, Bosworth said that "this is not like a return on investment money standpoint, it’s just those resources could be put to other uses that I think will be useful to the now tens of millions of people who are in VR."
In other words, Meta is sacrificing a game with an active player base of tens of thousands of players in order to make something that appeals to "millions of players." While that still doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to some people, I have a theory as to what this really means.
Moving on to the Metaverse?
What's next for the company? Many have been hoping for Quest ports of Lone Echo and Lone Echo II, and while that may certainly be the case — like I said, there's a clear dearth of zero-gravity games on the Quest — I'd like to think the studio is working on something wholly original built for the ground up for the Quest 2 and Quest 3 hardware.
But I don't think that's what's happening at all.
Instead, I have a feeling that Meta is using Ready at Dawn to move forward with creating a far more compelling metaverse concept than Horizon Worlds currently is. If you've never heard of or used Horizon Worlds, don't worry. No one else has either.
Why not start over (or totally revamp) by using the team that created one of the most successful social VR games of all time? Of course, I'm referencing Echo VR here, a game that's brought people together in a way that most multiplayer VR games could ever dream of.
It's formed lasting relationships, gotten people married, and even created entire eSports leagues around the game's unique concept. And, here's the important thing: people keep coming back for more.
That last part is Horizon Worlds' biggest problem right now: player retention.
On top of that, Meta and Unit 2 announced on February 1 that it would be closing Crayta for good in March of this year.
If you're not aware, Crayta is/was a world-building game/app not too dissimilar from something like Roblox, Minecraft, or even Horizon Worlds. It was already known that Meta was bringing this team in to assist with its Metaverse in some way but this tells me that Meta is 100% serious about going forward with its plans and is bringing as many teams in as possible to build it.
In Crayta's case, the game's reason for closing down is that the player base isn't what they'd hoped and the original platform — that'd be Google Stadia — has shut down for good. What better way to salvage lessons learned and good ideas formed than to take the entire team and move them over to something more long-term for Meta?
If Meta can use Unit 2 to deliver a world that's easy to build and share while also using Ready at Dawn's ability to craft unique worlds that keep players coming back, the company might finally be able to convince more people to start taking its metaverse concept seriously and use it as often as they use Facebook.
Big releases for Oculus Studios on the horizon
Likewise, we're still expecting some huge announcements from Meta over the coming months as we get closer to the Quest 3's official reveal and subsequent launch. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas VR hasn't been mentioned since Zuckerberg announced its existence at the end of 2021, and we're still patiently waiting for Assassin's Creed VR to show its pretty face, as well.
We're also very sure that Roblox is heading to the Quest platform sometime soon, although the company's most recent teaser doesn't tell us much.
But those are third-party partnerships Meta has penned with other studios, so how about Meta's own studios?
Armature Studio — who was behind the superb Resident Evil 4 VR remake — is almost certainly working on a similar project to bring a big-name IP to the Quest. We're not expecting Beat Games to drop Beat Saber 2 but the studio has been pretty hush in recent years, seemingly only focused on publicly releasing Beat Saber DLC packs and not much else.
BigBox VR just dropped Quest 1 support for Population: One and we know the company is working on some huge new updates after its recent Sandbox additions, all of which were purpose-built for the Quest 2 (and like 3) hardware.
Iron Man VR developer Camouflaj has been rumored to be giving players a VR treatment of Batman, bringing the company's expertise on excellent superhero games back for another round. Zuckerberg recently let it slip that Onward 2 was in development, so that covers Downpour Interactive's plans for the future. That one could certainly be a Quest 3 launch title.
Sanzaru Games hasn't been heard from since Meta acquired the studio in early 2020. While we'd love a Quest port of the incredible and genre-busting Asgard's Wrath, it's just as likely the studio is working on another original ground-breaking VR title, instead.
Twisted Pixel is known for putting out basically anything the team feels like making, ranging the gamut of genres over the years, so there's no telling what they're up to.
Meta is already finalizing the deal to acquire Within, the developers of Supernatural. This one definitely has some serious roots in getting people to be more active in their headsets and, I surmise, a wider Metaverse-type concept in the future.
Either way, Meta won't be abandoning its Quest 2 support any time soon, even with Quest 3 on the horizon. Everything points to the company having sold over 20 million headsets to date, once again selling more than Microsoft's latest Xbox consoles.
The most popular VR headset is still the best VR headset you can buy, especially for the price. Play exclusive games and become part of an amazing social experience on the Quest 2.
Sign up for Black Friday email alerts!
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the Android Central team.