Meta just lost one of its key VR architects
John Carmack of id Software fame has now left Meta after growing frustrated with the company's lack of efficiency
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Carmack leaves Meta
👋 John Carmack has announced he’s leaving Meta
🤝 Carmack joined VR developer Oculus in 2013 before it was bought by Meta in 2014
😤 The developer who co-created DOOM expressed his frustration at the company’s efficiency
🙌 Carmack did reserve some praise for the Meta Quest 2
Famed video game developer and VR pioneer John Carmack has stepped down from his position as a consulting CTO at Meta.
In a frank internal exit statement that’s since been shared on his personal Facebook profile, Carmack said he has “mixed feelings” about his departure but is “wearied of the fight”, taking issue with Meta’s efficiency.
“We have a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we constantly self-sabotage and squander effort. There is no way to sugarcoat this; I think our organization is operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy.
“It has been a struggle for me. I have a voice at the highest levels here, so it feels like I should be able to move things, but I’m evidently not persuasive enough.
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“A good fraction of the things I complain about eventually turn my way after a year or two passes and evidence piles up, but I have never been able to kill stupid things before they cause damage, or set a direction and have a team actually stick to it. I think my influence at the margins has been positive, but it has never been a prime mover.”
Carmack did also have some positive things to say: “Quest 2 is almost exactly what I wanted to see from the beginning – mobile hardware, inside-out tracking, optional PC streaming, 4k (ish) screen, cost-effective. Despite all the complaints I have about our software, millions of people are still getting value out of it. We have a good product.”
Carmack joined Oculus in 2013 before the firm was bought by Meta (known at the time as Facebook) a year later. For many years, he was the most prominent ambassador of VR technology, helping to develop and nurture Oculus’s Rift headsets.
In 2019, he moved to a consulting CTO role at Meta so as to allow him to direct more work to develop artificial intelligence with his start-up Keen Technologies, where he will now be focusing his attention.
Meta’s VR department hasn’t had a great run of it lately. After hiking the price of the Quest 2 by $100 earlier in the year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced 11,000 job cuts, blaming increased competition and falling ad revenue for hampering the company’s profitability. Its next-gen VR headset – the Meta Quest 3 – is expected to appear sometime next year, probably for around $400.
And as for the competition that Carmack mentioned in his leaving post, the space for VR dominance is heating up. Sony is set to release PSVR 2 in February next year, and there’s already a healthy list of PSVR 2 games on the way, many of which will be exclusive to Sony’s next-gen VR headset.
As well as a VR pioneer, Carmack is also a titan in the world of video games, having co-created Doom, Quake and a couple of other classics of the ‘90s. His presence in the early day of Oculus helped lend the company and VR technology in general a degree of credibility across the gaming industry.