Game Industry Pioneer Quits Meta Over VR Strategy Frustration

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

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The games industry veteran said in his resignation note that he’d long been frustrated by the poor operational efficiency of Meta’s VR endeavor, which he never felt adequately able to influence in the right direction.

Carmack, 52, joined VR developer Oculus in 2013 ahead of its acquisition by Meta — then still known as Facebook — in 2014. Having started at Oculus as chief technology officer, he most recently was executive consultant for VR at Meta, where he acted as an outspoken internal critic. Zuckerberg renamed the company he founded Meta to signal its commitment to developing a so-called metaverse of virtual 3D experiences.

“I have a voice at the highest levels here, so it feels like I should be able to move things,” said Carmack in the note. “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.”

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 “notable gap” in strategic thinking between himself and Zuckerberg. He believes “everything necessary for spectacular success is right there, but it doesn’t get put together effectively” at the company.

Meta is spending 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 the operating losses of the Reality Labs unit that houses the venture will grow significantly in 2023, which has not been welcomed by investors looking for more cost discipline from tech companies.

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says

With Meta not having seen an uptick in engagement for its Horizon Worlds app from both the content creators and early users, despite being the most aggressive with its investments in building the metaverse, we believe the company may focus on curtailing 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 is impossible to overstate the impact you’ve had on our work and the industry as a whole.”

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