Meta lays off employees of its own VR game studios
A report claimed that Meta’s VR game studios would be spared from the current layoffs. This turned out to be false.
A report by Business Insider claimed that teams working Meta’s gaming-related projects are some of the only ones deemed to be safe.
But on Twitter and Linkedin, employees of Ready at Dawn (Lone Echo 1 & 2, Echo VR) and Downpour Interactive (Onward) write that they or colleagues have been laid off, UploadVR reports.
Oculus Studios lose many employees
According to Senior Engine Programmer Thomas Griebel, around 40 people were laid off at Ready at Dawn, which is a third of the studio. The head of the studio was laid off as well.
1/3 of the studio was laid off today including the studio head
– Thomas Griebel (@thomas_griebel) April 19, 2023
There were also layoffs at Downpour Interactive. Onward producer Kasper Nahuijsen wrote on Twitter that he “lost a lot of colleagues and friends today” and calls the event the “the toughest day in my career.”
Layoffs. I lost a lot of colleagues and friends today.
— KasperVld (@KasperVld) April 19, 2023
A month earlier, studio founder and CEO Dante Buckley voluntarily left Meta, which isn’t a good sign.
“Another important thing I learned is the difference between a big company and a small startup, and the pros and cons of each. Some things work better in certain environments,” Buckley told UploadVR.
Other Meta employees who did not work at one of the studios but supported Meta’s VR gaming division, such as Roxana del Toro, were also laid off.
After 4 years at Meta, most recently supporting startups get into the Oculus store with funding and developer support, I've been laid off. A new path awaits and I'm excited. If you have any opportunities or connections in venture capital, or just want to link up, reach out!
— Roxana del Toro (@roxdtvc) April 19, 2023
A lot of questions about Meta’s gaming plans
Ready at Dawn and Downpour Interactive are two of eight VR game studios Meta acquired and integrated into Oculus Studios since late 2019. Ready at Dawn was acquired by Facebook in May 2020. The studio most recently worked on the multiplayer game Echo VR, whose servers will be shut down by Meta on Aug. 1. It is not known what other projects the studio has worked on over the past three years.
Downpour Interactive was acquired in April 2020. The studio has been working on the tactical VR shooter Onward for the past few years. Mark Zuckerberg hinted that a sequel is in development, but an official announcement of the VR game is yet to come.
The layoffs raise questions about the true state of Meta’s VR game projects. There haven’t been many major releases since Resident Evil 4 (October 2021), and none of Meta’s VR studios have announced or released new games since the acquisitions.
There is hope that this will soon change: In March, Meta announced that 150 new third-party VR games were in development for Meta Quest, and according to one report, 41 new apps are in the works for Meta Quest 3 alone. It would be surprising if that didn’t include titles from Oculus Studios.
Meta’s chief technology officer Andrew Bosworth teased in late 2022 that another Meta Quest Gaming Showcase would take place this spring. The first and second editions of this event were held around this time in April. We are still waiting for an official announcement.
You can read all about the Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro in the linked reviews.
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