Quest 3 will be an evolution instead of a revolution - and that's a good thing

Quest 3 will be an evolution instead of a revolution – and that’s a good thing

Quest 3 will be an evolution instead of a revolution - and that's a good thing

Image: Meta / MIXED

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Meta Quest 3 is coming in 2023, that’s for sure. However, we should not expect a technical revolution. This is a good thing.

In October, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the “next generation of our Quest headset for consumers” will launch in 2023. This refers to Meta Quest 3.

Since Meta usually unveils new VR hardware during Meta Connect and puts it on sale soon after, we can expect a launching next fall. According to Mark Zuckerberg, the price range will be between 300 and 500 US dollars.

Nothing else is known about the helmet from official sources. VR leaker Bradley Lynch released CAD drawings in October purporting to show a prototype of the Meta Quest 3. The drawings provide information on the design and hardware features, as well as a possible focus on mixed reality.

Lynch sources also believe Meta Quest 3 will be powered by a next-gen XR2 chip, which alone could boost GPU performance by 2.5x. Even though Lynch has often been right in the past, none of this has been confirmed yet.

Manage expectations

I expect a Meta Quest 2 improved in many ways, but does not feature major technical advances in hardware.

I’m hoping for a thinner and lighter chassis, new lenses for a sharper image overall, and an upgrade in terms of passthrough and mixed reality. I don’t expect eye and face recognition or better head support. The latter will still be available as a separate accessory.

Like the current helmet, Meta Quest 3 will have its rough edges, its compromises. At this price, it is not possible otherwise.

Better quality hardware might follow at the same time or later in the form of a Meta Quest Plus, priced between the inexpensive Meta Quest 3 and the high-end Meta Quest Pro. Meta hasn’t given any indication to that effect so far, just my speculation.

Standalone VR games are still standalone VR games

I also keep my expectations low when it comes to the performance increase. Even though Meta Quest 3 uses the latest XR2 chip, that doesn’t mean the headset can take full advantage of its performance. Waste heat and battery consumption are further limiting factors inherent in the design of the headset.

Don’t expect big graphical leaps, but I’ll be happy to be wrong. For now, a smooth and responsive user interface and higher resolution for standalone VR games are enough for me. For large, graphically complex titles, I still need to plug Meta Quest 3 into my PC or fire up my Playstation VR 2.


A smooth transition from Quest 2 to Quest 3

If I am correct in my assessment, Meta Quest 3 will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. And that’s on purpose: Meta wants a smooth transition in generational change, as I’ve explained elsewhere.

Meta Quest 2 has sold millions. Meta will not disturb existing customers by declare the helmet dead as early as next year and aggressively encourage upgrades.

It is more likely that Meta Quest 2 will continue to be actively supported for some time, certainly longer than the first Meta Quest. This, in turn, could slow down the potential of Meta Quest 3. It was a similar story with Meta Quest 2 and its predecessor. How quickly Meta makes the switch will depend on how well Meta Quest 3 sells.

No experiments, please

My hope for Meta Quest 3 is that the headset will be a slightly improved successor to Meta Quest 2 in many ways. My criterion is that its design choices, compromises, and accents are largely correct in hindsight. No more no less.

In this regard, I agree with John Carmack, who is convinced that Meta Quest 2 already has all the ingredients for a mainstream success and only needs incremental improvements.

Meta can experiment wildly with the Pro series. The first Meta Quest Pro is, in my eyes, a clunky, immature product with weird compromises, an elusive target audience, and an unjustified price tag. Meta cannot afford a similar misstep with Meta Quest 3.

Ultimately, the software will be critical to the headset’s long-term success. By this I mean the operating system, interfaces and exclusive VR games.

If Meta continues to do a good job here, Meta Quest 3 will be a success even without a major hardware upgrade, setting a new industry standard. A gradual and gentle revolution, so to speak.

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