OPINION

5 reasons why I am not yet switching from Meta to Pico

5 reasons why I am not yet switching from Meta to Pico

Pico 4 offers partly better hardware at a lower price. However, I will remain loyal to the Meta ecosystem for now.

For the first time this holiday season, consumers will be able to choose between two capable standalone headsets: the brand-new Pico 4 and the slightly older Meta Quest 2 from 2020.

A smaller and significantly lighter housing, modern pancake lenses with excellent image clarity, and a larger field of view: In terms of hardware, Pico 4 (review) is a clear improvement over Meta Quest 2 and is a bit cheaper to boot. At least on paper.

If you have owned a Meta Quest 2 for a while, like me and many other VR users, you have to consider other factors, especially since the Pico purchase is accompanied by a change in ecosystem. For the following five reasons, I see no reason to switch right now. Some of these points can also be decisive for newcomers.

1. Fewer and the same VR apps

Pico’s app library is only developing, so the selection is more modest. Beat Saber is missing, as are many exclusive games, movies, and experiences that Meta helped develop. It will take a while for Pico to catch up to Meta’s lead and have exclusive content on offer that is worth giving Pico the edge for.

2. New ecosystem, new investment

In a way, the second reason follows from the first. Those who have been in Meta’s ecosystem for a while and have put money into their app library are reluctant to switch to a wholly new ecosystem. Especially if he or she has to spend money again on the same apps.

3. The social factor

What applies to the app library also applies to your VR community: you can’t just take it to another ecosystem. Some VR games do support cross-play, but by no means all of them.

Losing cherished VR contacts just because you switch to a different headset might be a difficult step to justify, especially for social natures. It’s even worse when you’ve convinced friends to get a Meta Quest 2 and can no longer play certain games together.

If you’re new to VR and want to socialize or play with friends, you’re better off with Meta Quest 2. Since there are a lot more Meta devices in circulation, the chances of finding playmates increase, especially from English-speaking regions.

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4. The software needs to mature

Meta spent three years refining the user interface and operating system and released many new software features. No wonder Pico copied the Quest UI practically one-to-one. However, Pico still has some catching up to do in terms of fine-tuning and functionality – and that will take time.

5. Uncertainty regarding long-term development

An ecosystem stands and falls with the commitment of its operator. Meta sees itself as a long-term investor, but does the same hold true for TikTok parent Bytedance, the owner of Pico, which has only recently begun to seek out Western consumers? That remains to be seen.

Virtual reality will probably remain a loss-making business for many years to come. Companies and innovators will need a lot of perseverance. Especially when the competitor is called Meta and has a significant head start.

If Bytedance gives up prematurely and scales back investments, the ecosystem could collapse before it has even taken off. Your VR apps and VR contacts might be gone as well.

2023 is coming and with it a new headset generation

The next year will see more happen in the VR market than we’ve seen in a long time. In early 2023, Playstation VR 2 will be released and Meta Quest 3 will follow in the fall. The latter could make up for the hardware disadvantages of Meta Quest 2 compared to Pico 4 and reshuffle the cards among the standalone VR headsets.

If Qualcomm releases a new XR2 chip generation in 2023, then we could also expect a Pico 5 in the same time frame as Meta Quest 3. Both will make Pico 4 and Meta Quest 2 look old, which are at the end of the chip life cycle. It might be worthwhile for newcomers to be patient just a bit longer.