Meta is the midst of a second large round of layoffs, and this time a number of employees in its internal VR studios have been affected.

Business Insider reported earlier this week that Meta was increasing its focus on gaming-related projects within its Reality Labs division. As other teams were expected to be dissolved in layoffs, the report held that gaming-focused teams would be safe.

However that report is now being rebuffed by a number of self-reported layoffs which have affecting Meta’s VR teams, including Ready at Dawn, known for the Lone Echo series, and Onward studio Downpour Interactive.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in March that 10,000 employees would be laid off. At the time, Zuckerberg said that, in addition to a hiring freeze, the April round of layoffs would affect tech roles, while a third in late May will affect business roles—all of it in service of what Zuckerberg dubbed the company’s “year of efficiency.”

As mentioned by MIXED, Ready at Dawn Senior Engine Programmer Thomas Griebel tweeted that around 40 people, or around a third of the studio, were laid off. This also included studio head Mark Almeida, who has been with Ready at Dawn since August 2016.

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Acquired by Meta in 2020, Ready at Dawn announced in January it planned to shut down its popular free-to-play multiplayer game Echo VR, with plans to turn off severs come August 1st. At the time, the studio said the decision to shut down the game was “made for many good reasons and chief among them is the studio coming together to focus on our next project.”

Downpour Interactive, the studio behind VR mil-sim shooter Onward, is also seeing wide-ranging layoffs. We haven’t found a precise count of Downpour employees affected by the layoff round, however Producer Kaspar Nahuijsen called losing his colleagues to the purge “the toughest day” of his career.

Founded by Dante Buckley in 2015, and then acquired by Meta in 2021, Downpour Interactive’s latest claim to fame was porting the previously PC VR-only title to Quest and Quest 2. As a part of a wider transition by Meta to sunset the original 2019 Quest, Downpour announced Onward would no longer be playable on Quest 1 in any capacity after the July 31st, 2023.

As noted by UploadVR, founder and CEO Dante Buckely left Downpour/Meta last month.

The Guardian reports the latest round of Meta layoffs are affecting 4,000 employees immediately, which is a part of the 10,000 previously announced in March.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • ViRGiN

    I don’t know about Lone Echo team, but for Onward, this is EXCELLENT news from Meta! Finally they are holding people accountable. NOONE should feel bad for laid off Onward employees. The game has had 4 years to prove itself since Quest, and they have done literally NOTHING! That game was ALWAYS a pure joke, even when it was PCVR exclusive, and no, it wasn’t a good game, it was good for 2016 standards. 7 years later it’s still early access. How on earth a single guy did 90% of the game within 6-12 months, and then a whole team is incapable of even half-completing the game within 7 years?

    Good, VERY good news.

    • sfmike

      When Meta took over the company, as usual, creative and tech talent remained the same size but an entire army of middle management was probably installed that wasted at least 6 years on endless meetings and forced classes on sexual harassment and endless discussions on how to make the game more girl and minority friendly. Actual work on game mechanics die as the PC and workforce diversity and pleasing middle management becomes the focal point of development so those middle managers get that yearend bonus that has nothing to do with actual game development but promoting inhouse sacred company culture. VR will suffer from Meta’s failure.

      • ViRGiN

        No, Onward founder reassured they stay pretty much independent. This big L is entirely on it’s people. They did nothing but constantly rewrite the “backend” several times so that the game can be better in the future. That future has never arrived. Everyone just felt comfortable sitting on their ass all day. Meta certainly got pissed, when an unknown and unmarketed Contractors VR took over the genre a year ago. Onward looks and feels like DOS game next to it.

      • MeowMix

        what are you talking about ? Downpour hired a good amount of ppl since being acquired by Meta.

        I do agree with ViRGiN, Onward development has been progressing at a snails pace.

        And you can’t blame Meta, that’s just some low effort cop out. Pop1 produces an update every 4-6 weeks and they make a ton of content, EchoVR (ironically) produce an update every 4-6 weeks, the QUest OS team produces an update every 4-6 weeks (and ppl complain about it being too fast !!!), Beat Saber is releasing a new music pack every ~3 months.

        So why is Onward releasing an update every 3-6 months ? and what they do release is minimal in comparison to other studios.

        What Downpour needs is a major shakeup and reorganization. It’s not a functional gaming studio.

  • Stinks for the people laid off but this is probably good for VR, right? Devs freed up to actually make new games again! Hope you all get newer, better jobs soon!

    • Sven Viking

      One tweeted that after his experience at Meta he plans never to work with VR again, but that’s probably an outlier.

      • sebrk

        or just working at Meta. Seems to be a really shitty place.

        • shadow9d9

          They get paid a metric ton and get 4 months severance plus extra days per time there. Trult the worst.

      • ViRGiN

        He has said to be burnt out by working on VR for 7 years, and that he wants to focus solely on indie projects.
        Obviously low-effort crap has way higher acceptance rate on PC and alike rather than VR. Everyone is burned out on tech demos, “early access”, and games of single mechanics.

        He truly won’t be missed.

  • XRC

    This is also impacting Meta teams in London where Meta has it’s biggest engineering base (4,000) outside of the USA. They are cutting 10% of UK workforce in latest cull

    Instagram boss Adam Mosseri is being forced to return to New York where Instagram has offices, along with whichever staff want to move.

  • This is so sad

    • ViRGiN

      If you’re sad about these underperforming teams, then you are just advocating for “employment for life”, no matter the performance of these employees.

    • gothicvillas

      Huh… why exactly are you sad? People change jobs all the time. And besides, anyone who works for Meta deserves to be sacked and never employed again.

      • ViRGiN

        There are thousands of people who are happy with working at Meta.
        Don’t forget that years before Meta acquired Onward, Valve invited them for leftover pizza party and offered nothing more than an office tour stroking gaben own ego.

        Surprisingly it’s extremely quiet regarding the multi-millionaire founder himself who is the biggest winner here. It’s never Valve or Dante Buckley fault, never. It’s always Meta to be blamed xD Everyone who remained interested in Onward post-2017 did this all to themselves, showcasing no self respect playing super basic turds and calling it “milsim”.

  • NL_VR

    it was probably neccessary in current time the wouldnt have any investors left.

  • MarcDwonn

    Damn. The number of typos in this article. Am i too old-school to expect journalists to proof-read their text before going public?

  • Rupert Jung

    Why didn’t Meta make a deal with Sony to port their PC titles over to PSVR2?

  • Andross

    it’s been few weeks since i had to go trought disqus to see roadtovr comments.
    I am the only one or something big happened?