Apple reveals Vision Pro AR headset at its worldwide developers conference

$3,500 headset allows users to ‘browse the system simply by looking’ and tapping their fingers to select, says Apple

Apple has lifted the lid on the worst kept secret in Silicon Valley and revealed the Vision Pro, a $3,499 VR headset.

“With Vision Pro, you’re no longer limited by a display. Your surroundings become an infinite canvas,” the Apple chief executive, Tim Cook, said. “Vision Pro blends digital content into the space around us. It will introduce us to Spatial Computing.”

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Zuckerberg Might be Teasing the First Glimpse of Quest 3 Ahead of Quest Gaming Showcase

Zuckerberg took to Instagram to tease an announcement for… something… ahead of its big Quest Gaming Showcase tomorrow. Signs are pointing to Quest 3.

We have no insider info on what might be behind the countdown clock on Zuckerberg’s Instagram story, but the obvious guess is it could be our first look at Quest 3.

Quest 3 recently got a somewhat mysterious hands-on preview from, as far as we can tell, only a single reporter—Mark Gurman. That just happens to be the same reporter that’s been leading the charge in recent months with apparent insider info about Apple’s rumored headset that’s expected to be announced next week.

Zuckerberg’s countdown teaser takes us to 7AM on June 1st, the same day as the Quest Gaming Showcase, the company’s biggest annual event for VR game reveals. And in the background of the photo we can see a view of Zuckerberg’s feet, apparently from a camera on the device that he’s holding.

Image courtesy Mark Zuckerberg

With Meta having cancelled other hardware products like its Portal smart video speakers, it’s hard to imagine what else Zuckerberg would be physically holding other than a new hardware product.

It would certainly make sense for Meta to offer a glimpse of Quest 3. Apple’s rumored headset announcement is expected in just a few days. Meanwhile, Quest 2 is now nearly three years old, which might make an Apple headset look especially new and shiny to Questers looking for the next big thing.

In any case, tomorrow promises to be a big day for Quest gaming news, and maybe more. Stay tuned.

‘Beat Saber’ Finally Comes to PSVR 2 as Free Upgrade, Queen Music Pack Released

We expected Beat Saber as a day-one title on PSVR 2 when the headset launched in February, but it seems Meta had different ideas. Better late than never though, as everyone’s favorite block-slashing rhythm game is now available on PSVR 2 as a free upgrade from the PSVR version, coming alongside a paid music pack featuring the ever-iconic band Queen.

The Queen music pack is available across all supported platforms, including Quest, PSVR/2, and PC VR headsets, priced at $14.

It includes the 11 tracks listed below:

  • “Another One Bites the Dust”
  • “Bohemian Rhapsody”
  • “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
  • “Don’t Stop Me Now”
  • “I Want It All”
  • “Killer Queen”
  • “One Vision”
  • “Somebody to Love”
  • “Stone Cold Crazy”
  • “We Are The Champions”
  • “We Will Rock You”

If you already own Beat Saber on PSVR, you can upgrade to the PSVR 2 version for free. This will also allow you to transfer any music packs previously purchased on PSVR at no extra cost.

Report: Meta in Talks with Magic Leap for Multiyear AR Headset Tech Deal

A report from the Financial Times maintains Meta is currently in talks with AR headset creator Magic Leap to strike a multiyear deal, which could include intellectual property licensing and contract manufacturing of AR headsets in North America.

The AR unicorn is said to possess valuable IP regarding custom components, including its optics, waveguides, and software.

It’s said a potential deal may also allow Meta to lessen its reliance on China for component manufacturing. In 2019, Magic Leap partnered with manufacturing solutions company Jabil to create a Guadalajara, Mexico plant which the report maintains can assemble headsets in “the tens of thousands a year.”

Magic Leap 2 | Photo by Road to VR

Citing people with knowledge of the talks, the report maintains however a specific joint Meta-Magic Leap headset isn’t expected.

While both companies didn’t comment on a potential partnership, Magic Leap said this to the Financial Times:

“Given the complexities of developing true augmented reality technologies and the intricacies involved with manufacturing these optics, as well as the issues many companies experience with overseas supply chain dependencies, we have entered into several non-exclusive IP licensing and manufacturing partnerships with companies looking to enter the AR market or expand their current position.”

Since it exited stealth in 2014, Magic Leap has released two AR headsets, Magic Leap 1 and Magic Leap 2, which have been compared in functionality to Microsoft’s HoloLens AR headsets.

The company has raised over $4 billion, with minority investors including Google, Alibaba, Qualcomm, AT&T, and Axel Springer. Its majority stakeholder is Saudi Arabia’s state-owned sovereign wealth fund.

In addition to Quest Pro mixed reality headset, Meta has confirmed it’s currently working on its next iteration of Quest, likely Quest 3, as well as its own AR glasses. Meta started real-world testing of Project Aria in 2020, a platform for training its AR perception systems and asses public perception of the technology.

Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse vision is over. Can Apple save it?

The CEO of the social media giant has spent billions on his virtual reality dream – and still no one understands the idea. Now the world’s richest firm could change the game

In Meta’s quarterly earnings call in April, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was on the defensive. The metaverse, the vision of a globe-spanning virtual reality that he had literally bet his multibillion-dollar empire on creating, had been usurped as the new hot thing by the growing hype around artificial intelligence (AI).

Critics had even noticed Meta itself changing its tune, highlighting the difference between a November statement from Zuckerberg, in which he described the project as a “high-priority growth area” and a March note that instead focused on how “advancing AI” was the company’s “single largest investment”.

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A moment’s silence, please, for the death of the Metaverse

Meta sank tens of billions into its CEO’s virtual reality dream, but what will he do next?

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to remember the metaverse, which was quietly laid to rest a few weeks ago by its grieving adoptive parent, one Mark Zuckerberg. Those of you with long memories will remember how, in October 2021, Zuck (as he is known to his friends) excitedly announced the arrival of his new adoptee, to which he had playfully assigned the nickname “The Future”.

So delighted was he that he had even renamed his family home in her honour. Henceforth, what was formerly called “Facebook” would be known as “Meta”. In a presentation at the company’s annual conference, Zuckerberg announced the name change and detailed how his child would grow up to be a new version of cyberspace. She “will be the successor to the mobile internet”, he told a stunned audience of credulous hacks and cynical Wall Street analysts. “We’ll be able to feel present – like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are.” And no expense would be spared in ensuring that his child would fulfil her destiny.

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Meta to Host Quest Gaming Showcase Just Days Ahead of Rumored Apple Headset Announcement

Meta announced its third annual Quest Gaming Showcase is arriving next month, coming only a few days before Apple’s rumored XR headset announcement at Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Meta is livestreaming the Quest Gaming Showcase on June 1st, a bit unusual for the company, as it traditionally holds the annual event in late April.

Calling it their “biggest celebration of the depth and breadth of content across the Meta Quest Platform yet,” Meta is slated to share over 40 minutes of content, including a brand-new pre-show covering game updates and debut trailers, starting 15 minutes before the show begins.

Meta says to expect new game announcements, gameplay first-looks, updates to existing games, and more. There’s also set to be a post-show developer roundtable, which will feature conversation around upcoming games.

There could be at least one clue to what’s in store, as we get a brief glimpse at a horned helmet in the showcase’s promo video, which seems very much like Loki’s helmet from Rift exclusive Asgard’s Wrath (2019). Maybe Meta’s Sanzaru Games has slimmed down the Norse-inspired RPG?

Meanwhile, previous reports maintain Apple is finally set to unveil its long rumored mixed reality headset during the company’s WWDC keynote, taking place on Monday, June 5th.

Provided Apple indeed plans to announce its headset at WWDC, Meta could be looking to generate so called ‘strategic noise’ to better manage market reactions, and potentially offset any negative sentiment prior to Apple’s expected announcement—undoubtedly slated to be a pivotal moment for the entire XR industry.

Meta recently released its Q1 2023 earnings report, showing a consistent investment of around $4 billion per quarter into its XR division Reality Labs. With Apple rumored to be unveiling their own XR headset and a host of apps, reportedly set to include everything from fitness to VR/AR gaming, Meta may want to showcase where some of that investment is going.

Who knows? We may even hear more about Meta’s promised Quest 3 at the gaming showcase, which the company has confirmed will “fire up enthusiasts” when its released at some point this year, notably targeting a higher price point than its Quest 2 headset.

To find out, tune into the Quest Gaming Showcase on June 1st at 10AM PT (local time here), livestreamed across the company’s various channels, including TwitchFacebookYouTube, and in Meta Horizon Worlds.

Meta Reaffirms Commitment to Metaverse Vision, Has No Plans to Slow Billions in Reality Labs Investments

Meta announced its latest quarterly results, revealing that the company’s Reality Labs metaverse division is again reporting a loss of nearly $4 billion. The bright side? Meta’s still investing billions into XR, and it’s not showing any signs of stopping.

Meta revealed in its Q1 2023 financial results that its family of apps is now being used by over 3 billion people, an increase of 5% year-over-year, but its metaverse investments are still operating at heavy losses.

Reality Labs is responsible for R&D for its most forward-looking projects, including the Quest virtual reality headset platform, and its work in augmented reality and artificial intelligence. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has warned shareholders in the past that Meta’s XR investments may not flourish until 2030.

Here’s a look at the related income losses and revenue for Reality Labs since it was formed as a distinct entity in Q4 2020:

Image created by Road to VR using data courtesy Meta

Meta reports Reality Labs generated $339 million in revenue during its first quarter of the year, a small fraction of the company’s 28.65 billion quarterly revenue. The bulk of that was generated from its family of apps—Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

While the $3.99 billion loss may show the company is tightening its belt in contrast to Q4 2022, which was at an eye-watering $4.28 billion, Meta says we should still expect those losses to continue to increase year-over-year in 2023.

This follows the company’s second big round of layoffs, the most recent of which this month has affected VR teams at Reality Labs, Downpour Interactive (Onward) and Ready at Dawn (Lone Echo, Echo VR). The company says a third round is due to come in May, which will affect the company’s business groups.

Dubbed by Zuckerberg as the company’s “year of efficiency,” the Meta founder and chief said this during the earning call regarding the company’s layoffs:

“This has been a difficult process. But after this is done, I think we’re going to have a much more stable environment for our employees. For the rest of the year, I expect us to focus on improving our distributed work model, delivering AI tools to improve productivity, and removing unnecessary processes across the company.”

Beyond its investment in AI, Zuckerberg says the recent characterization claiming the company has somehow moved away from focusing on the metaverse is “not accurate.”

“We’ve been focusing on both AI and the metaverse for years now, and we will continue to focus on both,” Zuckerberg says, noting that breakthroughs in both areas are essentially shared, such as computer vision, procedurally generated virtual worlds, and its work on AR glasses.

Notably, Zuckerberg says the number of titles in the Quest store with at least $25 million in revenue has doubled since last year, with more than half of Quest daily actives now spend more than an hour using their device.

The company previously confirmed a Quest 3 headset is set to release this year, which is said to be slightly pricier than the $400 Quest 2 headset with features “designed to appeal to VR enthusiasts.”

Meta Layoffs Affect VR Teams at ‘Lone Echo’ & ‘Onward’ Studios

Meta is the midst of a second large round of layoffs, and this time a number of employees in its internal VR studios have been affected.

Business Insider reported earlier this week that Meta was increasing its focus on gaming-related projects within its Reality Labs division. As other teams were expected to be dissolved in layoffs, the report held that gaming-focused teams would be safe.

However that report is now being rebuffed by a number of self-reported layoffs which have affecting Meta’s VR teams, including Ready at Dawn, known for the Lone Echo series, and Onward studio Downpour Interactive.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in March that 10,000 employees would be laid off. At the time, Zuckerberg said that, in addition to a hiring freeze, the April round of layoffs would affect tech roles, while a third in late May will affect business roles—all of it in service of what Zuckerberg dubbed the company’s “year of efficiency.”

As mentioned by MIXED, Ready at Dawn Senior Engine Programmer Thomas Griebel tweeted that around 40 people, or around a third of the studio, were laid off. This also included studio head Mark Almeida, who has been with Ready at Dawn since August 2016.

Acquired by Meta in 2020, Ready at Dawn announced in January it planned to shut down its popular free-to-play multiplayer game Echo VR, with plans to turn off severs come August 1st. At the time, the studio said the decision to shut down the game was “made for many good reasons and chief among them is the studio coming together to focus on our next project.”

Downpour Interactive, the studio behind VR mil-sim shooter Onward, is also seeing wide-ranging layoffs. We haven’t found a precise count of Downpour employees affected by the layoff round, however Producer Kaspar Nahuijsen called losing his colleagues to the purge “the toughest day” of his career.

Founded by Dante Buckley in 2015, and then acquired by Meta in 2021, Downpour Interactive’s latest claim to fame was porting the previously PC VR-only title to Quest and Quest 2. As a part of a wider transition by Meta to sunset the original 2019 Quest, Downpour announced Onward would no longer be playable on Quest 1 in any capacity after the July 31st, 2023.

As noted by UploadVR, founder and CEO Dante Buckely left Downpour/Meta last month.

The Guardian reports the latest round of Meta layoffs are affecting 4,000 employees immediately, which is a part of the 10,000 previously announced in March.