Meta has recently announced on Twitter that it is changing the name of its VR headset, Oculus Quest, to Meta Quest.
The company, which was earlier known as Facebook, has not sprung any surprise considering that its founder Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear late last year that they will focus on the Metaverse. Though there is nothing wrong with this, the change VR headset name could be a big mistake.
What is the Oculus Quest?
The Oculus Quest headsets have been very popular in the last couple of years. According to Qualcomm, Meta sold around 10 million Oculus Quest 2 headsets units in November 2021 alone. This is in comparison to Microsoft, which sold 12 million units of Xbox Series X in a similar period. This performance looks impressive when put into perspective.
VR headsets have been a niche product because of their high pricing and requirement for a powerful PC. Oculus did an excellent job of making VR headsets popular, more accessible, and available to the masses. The device from Meta became the poster boy, the Oculus becoming a well-known brand today with Oculus Quest Xbox 1 compatibility being well received by gamers.
The canning of the Oculus name by Zuckerberg comes with its own risk of losing the goodwill it had built over the past few years. With its new name Meta Quest 3, the product will inevitably arrive, but many consumers may not know that it is the successor to the Oculus Quest 2.
Acquisition of Oculus Quest
Facebook had acquired Oculus in 2014 and kept it as a separate brand. This helped them as they were distanced from any Facebook controversies, which could potentially be a risk with its association with the Meta brand.
A survey poll conducted by Forbes in October 2021 saw that nearly 39% viewed the renaming as unfavorable while 68% had no interest in the Metaverse. There has also been a backlash from the Oculus users regarding its integration with Facebook features. The condition of having a Facebook account for using Oculus witnessed adverse reactions forcing Zuckerberg to take a U-turn.
Rebranding Oculus to Meta
The rebranding of Oculus to Meta quest has a more significant problem since the company’s focus is more on Metaverse than gaming. A look at the top-selling experiences will reveal why there is a problem. 19 out of the 30 most popular experiences on Oculus Quest are VR games and not social apps. The paid-for downloads games on the Oculus store are skewed towards gaming apps.
This suggests that Quest headsets are primarily meant for gaming, and though Zuckerberg wants to convert it into a social platform like Facebook. This is potentially risky as removing the Oculus brand name will alienate the gaming audience in favor of a new concept like Metaverse that many are still not convinced about.
It would have made better sense to retain the Oculus Quest name under the Meta umbrella. After acquiring the VR headset, Facebook retained its original name and did not change it to Facebook Quest. Some successful examples have been the Xbox from Microsoft or PlayStation from Sony, which chose it to call itself by its game-focused name rather than Microsoft Series X or Sony5.