- Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, is now more interested than ever in developing games for Quest headsets.
- Now that layoffs have begun, the workers at Reality Labs are viewed as safe to play.
- The excitement comes as a surprise to Zuckerberg, who had previously positioned the metaverse beyond gaming.
The company’s “Year of Efficiency,” as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg called it, is bringing more attention to the division of Reality Labs that focuses on gaming.
Three people familiar with the firm said that teams who work on gaming-related initiatives at the former Facebook are the only ones considered “safe” in a new wave of layoffs scheduled to start Wednesday and finish by the end May. According to the sources, the next wave of layoffs should begin around May 22.
All three people with knowledge of the situation noted that as Zuckerberg’s efficiency directive takes shape and layoffs begin, it is expected that many projects and groups within the Facebook app, and Reality Labs, will be disbanded. One of the three people said that teams that are focused on gaming would be able hire some positions once the layoffs have ended.
Two people said that Zuckerberg’s enthusiasm for gaming and the other executives of his company has increased in the last few months. However, the CEO and founder has taken a more subdued tone when it comes to the metaverse. One person familiar with the matter said that some hardware components are currently being “retooled”, in order to improve Quest headsets aimed at gamers and game developers.
One of those familiar with the matter added, “There is a growing recognition that they need real game developers to be on board.”
The company also discussed how to get “major games” like “Call of Duty”, “Grand Theft Auto” into the Quest store of apps, said the source.
A Meta spokesperson failed to respond to an inquiry for comment.
Reality Labs has shifted its focus to gaming. This is a significant shift for Facebookberg. While the Quest App Store has many games, Zuckerberg has touted the technology since his fall 2021 announcement of his metaverse as a whole new world.
Zuckerberg promoted metaverses for social interactions, e-commerce, and work. All of this activity was supposed to be carried out through avatars on its new platform Horizon Worlds. Horizon avatars are ridiculed because they’re too cartoonish, and the product isn’t widely adopted. In February 2022 the company reported that it had 300,000.
Facebook, the company with the highest headcount in Meta, has been looking to overhaul its operational structure, according to a previous report by Insider. Reality Labs, led by CTO Andrew Bosworth who is responsible for the metaverse’s projects of Facebook, has also reduced its spending after losing nearly $14 billion between 2022 and 2023. The people familiar with the matter said that budgets for projects and teams that produce tangible results, such as gaming, remain the same or even increase.
In addition to gaming, Zuckerberg, Bosworth, and other company executives have commented publicly on the importance AI in the organization, while the metaverse has taken a back seat.
Investors and Wall Street analyst have been asking for a killer app to be added to Meta’s headsets ever since the company changed from Facebook to focus on building the Metaverse. Meta recognizes that the traditional gaming model is the best way to gain financial ground in Reality Labs’s business, according to the source.
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