Last week’s frantic rush in tech revenue included a little-discussed gem in Facebook’s results: the virtual reality console system called Oculus Quest 2.
Sales of the Quest 2 headset, which was released into the wild on October 13th, are expected to have a positive impact
(Ticker: FB) Others called revenue buckets, executives said in Thursday’s call for profits. With Facebook’s $ 22.22 billion in advertising revenue, it’s easy to overlook the company’s virtual reality efforts as an interesting but ultimately insignificant side project. However, as publishers release more games that are more enjoyable to play in VR, and headsets keep getting better and cheaper, it may be worth paying attention to sales.
The Oculus Quest platform does not yet compete with next-generation console systems that are slated to hit the market in November
(SNE). There’s no such thing as a killer series of big budget, big ambition games, and it doesn’t seem future-proof to the same extent as Facebook started the second quest just a year after the first.
Facebook’s latest device is more accessible than more expensive, complex VR hardware like HTC’s Vive or the Valve Index. Both systems also require a powerful personal computer and wall-mounted sensors to enjoy full freedom of movement. Quest not.
The Quest 2 improves the first version of Facebook in almost every way. The device is lighter than its predecessor, faster – it is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 chip – has more RAM and has improved controllers. The display now delivers crisp, clear text and even more vibrant images at a better price: $ 299, $ 100 less than the first generation Quest.
Since Quest first appeared at the Facebook developer conference in 2019, I’ve thought VR hardware made sense. What was missing was the software, video games or whatever. And while the Quest systems didn’t remove my skepticism about VR, along with
,(YOU) Star Wars: Seasonsthey have decidedly blunted its sharp edge.
Seasons, a spaceship dog fighting game in the war of stars Universe is the first video game I played that can be played on a regular screen without a VR headset, but is far better in VR.
Similar to most VR programs, when booting Seasons on the Quest 2 is still not as easy as starting a normal game on a console or even a PC. Staters require a PC, the link software from Facebook and a cable with sufficient bandwidth. A lot of software is also required – software that doesn’t always work. Frame rate performance was inconsistent for no apparent reason either. But when it works, it’s lovely.
Despite some frustrations, not only was the VR experience more enjoyable than the non-VR experience, the headset improved my gaming ability. I sat in the virtual cockpit of an X-Wing fighter and looked around looking for bad guys – upstairs, back, sides.
Without a VR headset, a similar action requires a cumbersome combination of keystrokes and mouse movements. It didn’t come in handy when I was trying to fend off an attack from an enemy spaceship that was shooting green lasers in my direction. Having the headset on my face made me a better gamer which I’ve never been able to say about VR.
The Search 2-Seasons Experience is breathtaking at times, sounds great, and is a hell of a lot of fun. Seasons was a bit short and came up with just a short single player campaign and two multiplayer modes.
I doubt the Quest 2 will bring in enough money to convince CFO David Wehner to rename the other revenue segment to “Virtual Reality” or “Quest”. The second generation efforts are promising, however, and are definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Write to Max A. Cherney unter [email protected]
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