Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., speaks at the Facebook Connect virtual event, where the company announced its rebranding as Meta, in New York, US, on Thursday, October 28, 2021.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
meta introduces a new way for people to log into virtual reality headsets without using their Facebook credentials, the company’s latest effort to separate its futuristic metaverse ambitions from its core social media business.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the company now known as Meta, announced in a blog post on Thursday that Meta accounts will debut in August. Users can access their Meta Quest VR headsets with their new accounts and view a history of their VR app purchases, Zuckerberg wrote.
While Meta still gets pretty much all of its revenue from its Facebook family of apps, Zuckerberg is to attempt to convince investors and a certain subset of customers that the company is headed in a different direction as the metaverse evolves.
Zuckerberg’s take on the metaverse encompasses an assortment of virtual worlds accessible to VR and augmented reality technologies. While VR and AR headsets are still niche devices in a world dominated by smartphones, the Facebook founder has stated that they represent the future of computers and he recently said he envisions 1 billion users spending hundreds of dollars each in the metaverse by the second half of the decade.
However, the story looks very different today. Reality Labs, Meta’s division responsible for developing the metaverse and its underlying technologies, posted a $10 billion loss in 2021.
Meta is also trying to make amends with its current customer base of Quest VR users after the company previously asked them to use their Facebook accounts to access headsets. The resistance led to Meta announcing in October that he would change course.
“When we announced that we were going to require people to log in to Meta Quest with a Facebook account, we got a lot of feedback from the Quest community,” Zuckerberg said in Thursday’s blog post. “We took that feedback into account when designing a new Meta account structure that gives people flexibility and control.”
In addition to doing away with the need to use Facebook credentials, Meta is making a marketing change to further showcase the brand. Instead of users having Oculus profiles, they now have Meta Horizon profiles. Facebook inherited the name when it acquired Oculus in 2014 as an entry into the VR market. Now people can use their Meta Horizon profiles to customize their VR usernames, virtual avatars and other information, Zuckerberg said.
A Meta spokesperson told CNBC that users will need both a Meta account and a Meta Horizon profile to access the company’s VR headsets.
Zuckerberg also noted that Quest VR users will have “followers” instead of “friends,” making the Quest nomenclature more Instagram-like.
“If you already have a Meta VR headset, your Oculus friends will automatically become your followers and follow you back by default,” he said. “You can choose to unfollow or remove followers at any time.”
Meta is also releasing new tools that allow users to manage their privacy settings in VR, so they can choose whether they want their Meta Horizon profiles to be accessible to everyone, just friends and family or privately.
If users do not select a privacy setting, they will default to friends and family, a spokesperson said. Current Quest VR users must select a privacy setting to continue using their headsets.