Game industry pioneer quits meta due to VR strategy frustration

(Bloomberg) — John Carmack resigned from his leadership role at Meta Platforms Inc.’s virtual reality unit, citing frustration over slow progress and disagreements over strategy with the company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

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The games industry veteran said in his letter of resignation that he had long been frustrated with the poor operational efficiency of Meta’s VR efforts, which he never felt sufficiently capable of steering in the right direction.

Carmack, 52, joined VR developer Oculus in 2013, prior to its acquisition by Meta – then known as Facebook – in 2014. He joined Oculus as chief technology officer and most recently served as executive consultant for VR at Meta, where he acted as an outspoken internal critic. Zuckerberg renamed the company he founded Meta to demonstrate his commitment to developing a so-called metaverse of 3D virtual experiences.

“I have a top-level voice here, so it feels like I should be able to move things around,” Carmack said in the note. “But I’ve never been able to kill stupid things before they do damage, or signal a direction and actually stick a team to it.”

The games industry veteran, whose id Software produced classic first-person shooter games Quake and Doom and helped usher in 3D graphics for PC video games, added on Twitter that he found a “remarkable gap” in strategic thinking between him and Zuckerberg. He believes that “everything needed for spectacular success is there, but it’s not put together properly” at the company.

Meta spends billions of dollars each year on its metaverse and VR project, and its Meta Quest 2 is widely regarded as the best VR headset on the market. The company said in October that operating losses from the Reality Labs unit that houses the company will increase significantly in 2023, which was not welcomed by investors seeking more cost discipline from tech companies.

What Bloomberg Intelligence says

With Meta not seeing an increase in engagement from both content creators and early adopters for its Horizon Worlds app, despite being the most aggressive with its investments in building the metaverse, we think the company can focusing on mitigating operating losses for its Reality Labs segment.

— Mandeep Singh, analyst

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Meta investors in no mood for Zuckerberg’s Metaverse Moonshot

Following the announcement of Carmack’s departure, Meta Chief Technology Officer Andrew Bosworth said on Twitter that “it’s impossible to overstate the impact you’ve had on our work and the industry as a whole.”

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