John Carmack criticizes Echo VR shutdown

John Carmack criticizes Echo VR shutdown

Meta's head of technology sees the Echo VR shutdown as a necessary evil. John Carmack criticizes the decision and presents counterproposals.


On August 1, 2023, Meta will shut down the servers for Echo VR. Meta's CTO Andrew Bosworth explained on Instagram that the number of users has dwindled to a few tens of thousands. Continuing to operate would tie up resources that could be used more wisely elsewhere. It was a painful but necessary decision, he said.

However, the planned end of the VR game for Meta Quest and Rift is not only met with criticism from fans. Bosworth also mentioned in the Q&A session a private message from his predecessor John Carmack (former Oculus chief technology officer), who continued to support Meta as a virtual reality consultant until his departure in 2022. Carmack would not have discontinued the game, Bosworth said.

John Carmack: "I believe in saving everything".

Meanwhile, Carmack spoke out to In a statement, he explained his philosophy of preserving beloved products and content. "I believe in saving everything. Even if there are only ten thousand active users, destroying that user value should be avoided if possible," Carmack wrote to the website.

The benefit of something new and valuable doesn't outweigh the harm of taking something beloved away from fans, Carmack said.



The two have had similar discussions before about content for the old Oculus Go and Gear VR platforms, he said. "Boz gave the greenlight for releasing the Oculus Go root build that I had long agitated for, but after seeing how much internal effort was involved to make it happen, I almost felt bad about it."

Meta's constraints on VR gaming

In a corporation of Meta's size, there are simply other constraints, according to Carmack, who calls Bosworth's statement "honest and sincere." While there are likely some good reasons internally for project discontinuations, Carmack presents some counter-proposals for Echo VR's continued operation:

  • A single person for maintenance and community communication, similar to Quake Live in the past. This would probably be a losing proposition for Echo VR, but has enough intangible value - even if Carmack usually preaches cost efficiency.
  • A team member with exit plans could take over the project. Carmack suggests a rights sale for $10 million. Such a "spin-off," however, could create many problems for a corporation of Meta's size. The move would be good for VR, but a bitter pill for Meta, which has invested "many millions of dollars" in acquiring Echo VR developer Ready at Dawn.
  • An "Unsupported" banner in the Store. The game's demise, however, could cause more resentment than a brief death.
  • Small developers in particular would also have the option of publishing on Github with a license comment header. For Meta, that would probably involve too much legal and technical hassle.

Fans of Echo VR, meanwhile, can only hope that Ready at Dawn has something big up its sleeve. Bosworth, at least, hinted that the studio's new, as-yet-unannounced project should reach millions of players instead of tens of thousands.

Sources: Andrew Bosworth, UploadVR