Wednesday, April 20, 2022



The Meta Quest Gaming Showcase (MQGS) should have been more exciting.

From his actions, and his appearances, Mark Zuckerberg seems to understand, better than almost anyone else, the future possibilities of eXtended Reality (XR). But MQGS did not execute on that vision. It was wrongheaded in several ways.

For the "Metaverse," (that part of the future centered around a virtual social experience), the MQGS was a step in the opposite direction. 

The short review is that 

  • (1) the few games showcased were mostly not very interesting. They were mostly simple sequels/updates to mostly first person shooters (or variants on the shooter motif). Three interesting exceptions were a football simulation, a city-builder, and a surprise.  The football simulation does have great promise, as VR seems to be doing well as an actual trainer for real athletes, so a simulation could become a genuine e-sport. The city-builder might be fun. Also, a Ghostbusters VR game from SONY Pictures was teased: there were scant details, but with SONY planning a VR headset of its own for PlayStation 5, the release of a SONY VR game to the QUEST would be intriguing.
  • (2) the presentation lacked energy.
  • (3) the presentation, agreeably, was broadcast to multiple sites, including YouTube and Twitch, as well as Facebook and Meta Horizon Venues
  • (4) Watching a VR event in Meta Horizon Venues should be an exciting, great VR experience.  But, the Showcase event was not VR:  not live, not in 3D, not panoramic -- it was just an ordinary video. It was actually more distracting to watch in Horizon Venues than on YouTube. And getting to Horizon Venues was too hard.  I'm quite experienced with both Quest and Venues, yet I had the following problems: 
    • (a) I turned on my QUEST 2 to find it had lost all its power. (I had used it recently and I'm surprised it needed a charge.) I quickly plugged it in, let it power up for a while and then about 5 minutes before the event, logged in, still attached to the power plug. 
    • (b) I got to Venues and it told me I needed to log into Facebook (but I should have already been logged in). I re-booted the HMD and this time I successfully entered Venues.  
    • (c) I went to the Showcase door in Venues for the event, but it would not let me in - it blocked me at the door. I was not in slide mode. A bystander, perhaps a Community Guide (CG), suggested I switch to slide mode. I did; I slid to the door, but it still did not let me in. The CG suggested I reboot. 
    • (d) I rebooted, went through the process, again, of going to Venues, going to the lobby, sliding to the door, and this time it let me in. 
    • (e) I was really disappointed to find the presentation in Venues was not in 3D. Not even the 3D VR games were being previewed in 3D. And, of course, by now I was late.
    • (f) After the show, I could not get out of Venues properly, I had to do a hard exit and quit.

FYI - disclosure -- I'm currently testing a webXR site and webXR technology that would facilitate 3D, panoramic, VR, content, to create truly exciting, accurate, and compelling new product promotions and demos - for VR games like these and anything else 3 Dimensional (fashion, cars, real-estate, humans singing, dancing, acting, talking....)

For building a "Metaverse," three of the leading products in Meta are Horizon Worlds, Horizon Workrooms, and Horizon Venues. Horizon Worlds (HW) currently represents social gaming. But it is a special kind of gaming: HW is for people who want to build places together. (I call them "places" rather than worlds, because that is a better description: You can build a room, or a museum, or a room with a game, or a street. But building worlds -- the hierarchy of {rooms, => buildings, =>towns, =>states, =>countries, => a world, =>worlds} is beyond the power of ordinary humans with the current tools.)  

The tools seem deliberately primitive, making the building of the space the goal -- rather than making the space itself, and the quality of the space, as a destination for users, to be the goal. For example, in particular, the site does not allow imports: you can not import text, or scripts, or VR assets. Everything must be done in the site, by hand. This choice does create social bonds among creators, but does not allow the possibility of making great creations for non-creating users.

Horizon Worlds, for all its limitations, is Meta's premiere social gaming site, yet it was not even mentioned in today's "gaming" presentation. (If it was, it went by quickly and I missed it.) Similarly, none of the games in today's Showcase, represented large scale social gaming.

To me, then, this Showcase seemed to be an old-fashioned description of how we thought about games and applications on the Quest a few years ago.


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