March 2023, Altspace has shut down, and now Meta announces another round of massive layoffs. Zuckerberg calls this a necessary “restructuring” to “improve organizational efficiency”. From an outside perspective it seems that the metaverse Zuckerberg has envisioned isn’t panning out as expected. At least not yet. Microsoft and Meta are two major players in the VR industry. They both play a massive role in growing social VR, Meta changing their entire business to focus on it. With both Microsoft and Meta laying off employees focused in these fields, is it a sign that the public just isn’t interested in this technology?
Before Meta rebranded, Social VR was very niche and not mainstream at all. Most people didn’t even know about it. It wasn’t until the Facebook Connect event when everyone began to focus on social VR. Years later, we’re seeing two major players back off it. Microsoft shuts down AltSpace and downsizes their Hololens team. Meta faces layoffs after layoffs. When it comes to social VR there really is only one group in the lead and that’s VRChat.
Even with all the branding, VR is still a very niche market. I would love for social VR to be more mainstream, but it’s becoming clear that we just aren’t close to that yet. The technology is getting better and better, and no doubt will the market continue to grow. It’s just going to be a bit slower than some of the advocates anticipated.