John Carmack was a critic of Facebook's Metaverse even when he was still nominally tasked with building it — and now that he's out, he's pulling no punches.
In a recent interview with Meta's current CTO Andrew Bosworth on his "Boz to the Future" podcast, Carmack said that although he's still quite "bullish" on virtual reality itself, he thinks his ex-employer isn't doing it any favors.
"I still think it’s a great bet," he told his former co-worker, "and it’s Meta’s to lose at this point."
Perhaps best known as the man who built "DOOM," Carmack was CTO of Oculus when it was purchased by the company formerly known as Facebook. Although he remained on at Meta until resigning at the end of last year, he was known to criticize his erstwhile employer even when he was still on the payroll as its consultant.
All the same, he still has suggestions for the company that employed him for nearly a decade — though he doesn't exactly detail them nicely.
Specifically, Carmack took to task the tediousness and "glitchiness" of Meta's current VR tech, inviting Bosworth to imagine how irritating it would be if smartphones operated the way the company's headsets do now.
"What would your phone be like if you had to set up and acknowledge guardian every time that you started it up? If you had to wait for your controllers to wake up before you could start doing inputs there?" he mused. "So getting to that point, not just light and cheap, but it should also be instant. You should just be able to pull it up and put it on your head to just glance over there to look at something as easily as you would look at your watch."
While this was definitely not the first time Carmack took the glitchiness of the capital-M Metaverse to task, his comparison is a good one.
"I keep saying how VR needs to displace all of these other devices," he added, noting that early adopters will buy in, well, early, but it needs to also "replace" laptops, tablets, and other seemingly-integral forms of consumer tech.
"It needs to go ahead and say: well, if you buy the VR headset, you don’t need to buy this Chromebook, you can just attach a keyboard to it," Carmack continued. "You don’t need to buy this extra TV, you’ve got your big screen theater there. You don’t need this tablet, this is going to be able to run the Android apps directly there."
Perhaps what's most "frustrating," the gaming pioneer added, is that "all of that is just right there for us."
"It’s just a matter of doing it," he said. "We don’t need to wait for magical MicroLED silicon carbide displays whatever to create this value. We just need to go do it. The programmers just need to do this instead of that."
"It’s going to happen" and could even be "cheaper than cell phones," Carmack concluded — so long as Meta, or one of its competitors, doesn't keep gumming up the works.
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