The Oculus Go is turning into a Magical Space Brick

Facebook logo hugging VR headset with a galaxy image on it

Facebook was still selling the Go when they were slowly destroying it.

Image from Wikimedia Commons, NASA, public domain.
I haven’t been posting much here, probably because there is not much announcements to say at the moment (that I’m allowed to reveal yet) so here’s something different and probably irrelevant to you! XD
Update 3rd September 2022: I’ve been meaning to add this for a while, but there are alternative launchers for the Go, but you would need to have trust in them instead of Facebook (now Meta), though some may say trusting Meta would be a worse alternative. Meta themselves have made the Oculus Go open-source, which I think makes the issue of this post a lot better!

I think it was last year that Epic Hedgehog got an Oculus Quest. I was absolutely stunned that this was possible in 2019, after readingĀ Ready Player One that same year the realities in the sci-fi book seemed to have a clear path to it becoming reality. Actual reality. The technology that may change the world, either through the Internet of Things where the virtual world is brought into reality or through VR, reality is brought into the virtual world. The latter would allow for much more freedom, as reality is limited. (I have an upcoming movie about this actually, not that you should watch it, it’s purposely confusing.)

What really got me about the Quest was just how complicated it was. It wasn’t virtual reality, it was actually augmented reality: Incorporating the virtual world WITH the real world. You would draw a line around the space you had through the camera on the Quest so upon approaching any obstacles you may bump into, you would be warned in the virtual world. That being said, while you still could move around in your space, it meant you were restricted to that space, and any other movement would be this uncanny hovering above the floor, as if you were on a skateboard – that you couldn’t see.

Given all this, I got a Go the following year and it had a different perspective on virtual reality altogether. While the Quest assumed you had some space available in the real world that could let you move in the possibly infinite VR world (6 Degrees of Freedom), the Go always assumed that you couldn’t move in any direction, as if you were on the go: in a car, aeroplane etc. All there was was you moving your head (3DoF) and interacting with your surroundings with one remote which was both virtual and physical with a Home, Back and Trigger button plus a Touchpad which you could also press down as a secondary button. It wasn’t as high-tech as the Quest, but it provided the really cool interactive VR experience that is definitely worth experiencing, even just to see the home screen background is incredible – that is, if the Go was still around today.

One of the flagship apps that would have been perfect for socializing in the locked-down world we live in today was Oculus Rooms, where you could meet your friends in a room with no chances of getting any viruses) and play games. It also was also a hub for joining games on the Go. When I got the Go, the pre-installed Rooms app came with it. So when I was messing around with the virtual screen, standing on a ledge across a scaryingly deep canyon, I saw Oculus Rooms in the Library on my machine and even by the name it sounded cool. So I fired it up and was greeted with the screen that said something along the lines of “The Rooms service for the Go has ended.” and told me that it was replaced with Facebook Horizons. (Facebook bought Oculus in 2014) And how could you get Facebook Horizons? You couldn’t! It wasn’t out yet, but they had to shut down their perfectly functioning service along with Facebook Spaces, their previous VR endeavor for a service that wasn’t out yet. So all there was to wait for the opening day, but wait again! You don’t get Facebook Horizons because it’s not for the Go!

At this, I looked for some alternatives and was pretty angry about the time they picked to remove the Go’s official socializing game as if it was using social distancing to generate sales for the Quest. I found some replacements that were different but was trying to do the same thing as Rooms and came across things like vTime XR, AltspaceVR and Bigscreen. vTime XR looked very promising, I never tried out AltspaceVR but Bigscreen was interesting in that you could watch movies and use your computer on a big screen in whatever environment they had, like a space cinema or just a nice big living room, and that to me was really cool.

Fast forward to today, the 11th of April and after a while of not using the Go, I decide to try out the Go to write the EGA script (yes I’m actually writing it now) and to do something for Epic Kitten and it tells me my internet has disconnected. I check Settings and it all looks fine, so I look up help and it turns out that Facebook discontinued the Go. Everything made a lot of sense then that not only were they ignoring it for the frankly better headsets, they planned to stop developers from giving any updates – altogether. This news annoyed me enough to write this post, forget who reads it I’m just angry.

When I got the Go, Facebook had sold it knowing that they were going to kill it in the next year. It will never be bricked completely; rendered useless because the apps still there and the Web Browser that will allow online content that could shape the Go’s future, or lack thereof, it is not as useless as a brick. It is a magical Space Brick that I still consider as an important piece of technology which is still fun to play with that I won’t be getting rid of anytime soon.

If I were to get a Quest, aside from the uncertainty that it would ever be of any use, I would have to use a mandatory Facebook account which luckily only denies you of the now useless social features on the Go. I’m angry about all the things I could have done last year which I can never do again with the Go but all is not lost, and if there is a future, it would be through the Web, where it isn’t yet dominated by a company that can crush everything in a second.
DISCLAIMER: I know Facebook is doing what any company would do, removing support for a console that isn’t innovation and progressing the VR experience to the next level. But at least tell us up front that you’re going to kill it rather than selling us a raw deal. Good strategy but not if enough people are going to start taking action, which frankly I don’t think will ever happen.

GRRRRRRRR! there, that’s better