Despite widespread layoffs, a lack of mass metaverse adoption, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's sudden refocus on messaging apps to drive business, Meta is still planning on investing majorly in virtual reality (VR) in 2023.
According to a statement written by Facebook CTO Andrew Bosworth, the company still believes in the future, citing that 20% of its overall investments will go toward Meta’s virtual reality/metaverse department Reality Labs.
“These are the moments that truly test people's belief in the future,” Bosworth wrote. “During boom times, it's easy to make big, ambitious investments in what's coming next. But when economic conditions turn, it's just as easy to turn the other way: cut back on your ambitions, stick to what's safest and most profitable today, and squeeze as much as you can from it.”
Bosworth makes a strong point that Meta will not be turning back on their initial investment in the metaverse, although it has cost the company endless public backlash, not to mention upwards of $10 billion.
And although Meta's VR presentations have failed to impress, time and time again, Bosworth argues that 2022 may have been an important year in the development of VR technologies, including mixed reality tools (“a key part of the journey toward full augmented reality devices”) and hand, eye and face tracking (“an essential piece of the technology stack needed for AR and VR devices to reach their full potential”).
Bosworth also believes in the power of VR creators who are using Meta's virtual world builders. “It's this community, more than any technical breakthrough or hardware advance,” he says,” that makes us so confident in the things we're building.”
As Meta continues on the Metaverse path, it will be focused on developing a pair of “true AR glasses,” which Bosworth says will “require a massive set of breakthroughs and inventions.”
Artificial intelligence (AI) will also remain a key focus for the company, as Bosworth revels in its decades-long investment in AI, mentioning Cicero (the company's agent capable of beating humans at a diplomatic strategy game), Reels, and its core ads systems.Bosworth also notes that Meta will be sharing new metaverse hardware with the public, including the successor to the Meta Quest 2 headset, as well as the Meta Quest Gaming Showcase, a springtime event that will highlight a batch of new VR games.
Interestingly, last week's announcement that former video game engineer and VR advocate John Carmack will be leaving Meta doesn't appear in Bosworth’s statement. Carmack has overseen Meta's VR division since 2014, but recently said that voicing his opinions became too much of a struggle.