Oculus has also bought several game production studios and other VR-based companies like BigBox VR, Beat Games, and Sanzaru Games to create more VR content.
With Workrooms, Facebook wants to bring Oculus beyond video games. The service should give other people a feeling of presence, even if they are on the other side of the world.
Zuckerberg sees the project as part of the next internet, which technologists call “the metaverse”. In Zuckerberg’s opinion, the Metaverse is a world in which people can communicate via virtual reality or video calls, cell phones or tablets, or other devices that have not yet been invented, such as data glasses or gadgets.
There people will maintain a certain continuity between all the different digital worlds that are inhabited. For example, someone could buy a digital avatar of a shirt from a virtual reality store and then go offline, but still wear that shirt to a Zoom meeting.
For the time being, this vision remains a long way off. VR adoption can be measured by tens of millions of users compared to billions of smartphone owners. Facebook also stumbled upon and remembered the Quest 2 foam covers this year after some users reported skin irritation. The company has offered free new silicone padded sleeves to all Quest 2 owners.
Zuckerberg spoke to journalists at this week’s Workrooms event, but at some point had to leave the room and return to the room because his digital avatar’s mouth didn’t move when he spoke.
“The technology that gives you that sense of presence is like the holy grail of social experience and I think a company like ours was designed to do that over time,” commented Zuckerberg after the bug was fixed and the mouth shut of his avatar was moved again. “My hope is that in the next few years people will not see us primarily as a social media company, but rather as a ‘metaverse’ company that gives a real sense of presence.”
Mike Isaac is a technology reporter and author of Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, which featured on the NYT’s bestseller list about the dramatic rise and fall of the passenger transportation company. It regularly covers Facebook and Silicon Valley and is based in the Times’ San Francisco office. @MikeIsaac