Meta dropped a major announcement yesterday, saying it plans to allow select partners to build third-party headsets that will run Horizon OS (formerly Quest OS). The news is prompting significant discussion within the XR industry, including from Oculus founder Palmer Luckey.

Here’s a quick primer for those of you who are newer to XR industry. What eventually became the ‘Quest’ headset and ‘Horizon OS’ platform from Meta started when the company bought a VR startup called Oculus back in 2014. Oculus was founded by Palmer Luckey, who was a prominent voice in the XR industry before ultimately being pushed out of Facebook over divisive politics. Although he went on to found a military defense technology company after his ousting, Luckey remains an influential voice within the XR industry—even if he did build a headset designed to kill the wearer.

So that brings us to this week’s Horizon OS news; the biggest move that Meta has made with its XR strategy in years. The company says it will allow select partners to build their own headsets which will run Horizon OS, with the hope that the range of headset choices will expand while sharing a common software platform for users and developers. Although it’s still far from this vision, this is Meta’s first major step toward its stated goal of wanting to be the ‘Android of XR’.

What does Oculus founder Palmer Luckey make of the news? Well, it’s an ‘I told you so’ moment a decade in the making.

Luckey tells Road to VR that opening up the platform to third-party headset makers was “explicitly our plan over ten years ago, but Facebook would later pivot Oculus hard away from it.”

Meta Wants to Beat Google at its Own Game with Horizon OS

He points to an interview from 2014 in which Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus at the time, reasoned, “if we do want to get a billion people on virtual reality, which is our goal, we’re not going to sell 1 billion pairs of glasses ourselves. We are openly talking to any kind of partner that wants to jump into VR, and there’s a lot of interest right now.”

Gear VR was the first Oculus headset made by a third-party

And the company did in fact pursue that strategy. In 2015 Oculus teamed up with Samsung which released Gear VR, a headset ‘shell’ which worked by slotting a Samsung phone into the device to function as the brains and display of the headset. The headset’s software platform, however, was made by Oculus. Samsung released several iterations of Gear VR over the years but ultimately the effort didn’t find product-market fit, and Samsung discontinued the devices.

Today Luckey says, “I always strongly believed that Oculus should endeavor to build a technology platform that powered/supported every headset, even competitors like [HTC] Vive. […] this was always the correct strategy. Hopefully it isn’t too late.”

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • As per usual, Luckey’s probably right.
    But he and King Carmack got into it recently
    with the assclown “Boz”: surprised nothing on RTVR about it ….

    • shadow9d9

      Because who cares about 2 people that left the industry years ago?

      • Nick B

        The two people that invented modern VR? I care.

        • Mike

          yup these where the two pioneers everyone needed to listen to.

          • Anonymous

            They may have good things to say about “VR” but that was more operational, HR internal matters.

            In that regard they are no more knowledgeable than any one of us. Just 2 random ex-employees arguing with their current counterpart.

          • Mike

            two random guys who literally invented vr and 3d gaming combined. sorry I’ll take their advice over some suit at meta anyway.

          • Jonathan Winters III


        • Along with everyone else, of course.
          But let’s allow thisrockhead to wallow in his idiocy, shall we …? lol
          []^ )

    • lil craig

      well, probably not as usual

  • Ondrej

    HTC didn’t want SteamVR taking its software money and quickly tried to pivot to their own store after the first Vive.
    Why would they be okay with Meta doing that instead? Would Meta, unlike Valve, share the software cut with them?

    Funnily enough, in the interviews before CV1 Oculus execs were already saying why they needed to start their own store and ecosystem and not let Valve take all software profits with Steam – and they were still a small indie hardware company. But somehow they expected other, bigger companies to be in that position instead.

    • Sven Viking

      I’m guessing there will be some type of revenue split, because I doubt most of these companies will plan to make a fortune off the hardware alone. If they can’t make something price-competitive with Quest, a substantial portion of potential customers will just get a Quest even if a more expensive headset might be more focused on their main use case.

  • XRC

    If I remember correctly? Wasn’t the original plan for Oculus to make hardware and Valve run the digital store?

    Jump forward over a decade and Meta are making hardware and Valve taking their 30% cut of PCVR software sales on Steam for Meta headset owners; funny how it came full circle.

    • Sven Viking

      Oculus always planned their own store (Oculus Share was intended to be a starting point for it). Valve just didn’t think it’d be that much competition for Steam (considering other PC game stores from much larger companies haven’t turned out to be much of a threat), so it’d still come down to Oculus making the hardware and Valve making most of the money from software sales.

      And even with Facebook backing, that’s probably largely what happened on PC . A lot of people with Oculus headsets buy most of their PCVR games on Steam.

      • I think it’d be more accurate to say people aren’t buying many PCVR games at all. The amount of people using Quest 3 on Steam is less then 1%, while Quest 2 is around 40%.

        So the newer, more powerful headset is giving people less reason to hook up, and by no small margin either. Quest 3 looks dramatically better on PCVR over the Quest 2, so if people were interested, they’d certainly use it.

        Outside of testing PCVR out, and it was impressive, I haven’t done much with it myself. The few games that do interest me have native Quest support, with minor comprises. Far less then the Quest 2.

        By using native Quest apps I can still use my gaming PC computer to listen to YouTube in the background, or rendering some AI animations out. I don’t have to start up any complex interface. It’s quick, instant, easy to do. PCVR is not. There are steps, it takes a few minutes sometimes, and I’ve had some crashes.

        So I, personally, lean heavily into looking for native Quest apps over their PCVR counterparts, and from the numbers, I can see I’m not alone.

        I used to think more like you do with the Quest 1 and 2, but since the Quest 3’s power bump, it’s much less on my mind. Also, on average, most people don’t have a “Good gaming PC”.

        But if you are only into PCVR, now’s a great time. Quest 2’s are rock bottom cheap on the Used market! I can’t even sell my high-end 256GB model, with a halo strap and accessories. Other people are just selling Quest 2’s too cheaply!

        • Sven Viking

          While that doesn’t conflict with what I was saying, those stats are inaccurate. Quest 3 currently makes up 15.03% of the headsets on Steam compared to Quest 2’s 37.84%.

          Considering many more Quest 2s have been sold compared to Quest 3 (Quest 2 was still outselling Quest 3 post-launch last I heard), it’s likely that means a higher percentage of Quest 3s are being used for PCVR than Quest 2s — maybe because relatively more PCVR users can afford to spend on upgrading to/buying the more expensive headset?

    • Cl

      That was probably before we had standalone headsets.

    • Herbert Werters

      The Oculus Store was the plan. It just didn’t work out. Look how hard the Epic Store or other platforms have to fight. With the Quest Store Meta has managed to build a store that nobody can get past. Meta will make the OS account-based just like it is now. Nobody will be able to use the Mobile HMDs without a Meta account and a online login.

  • Only trolls hide comments

    I didn’t realize this vagina-face was still relevant in the XR world. I thought he sold out years ago so he could shit-post for Trump full time.

  • ViRGiN

    I don’t know if that is too late, but Palmer, it’s never too late to deliver ready rift one for my cv1 that you sold to me.

    • ViRGiN

      I need to rewrite sentences so they make sense. But I’m pretty sure owning a CV1 means I used to have a PC and play games on it. Not on Steam though, I love Epic and uPlay instead, and so does the rest of a cult that follow me. I spoke to both of them yesterday on Horizon, I was the one that looked like Barney the Dinosaur, but they knew it was me… we then played Gorilla Tag on Quest, which is the #1 top rated Quest title available.

      • ViRGiN

        I like to kiss sadlyitsbradley buttcheeks, the sweat after 12 hour long vrchat session with 7 full body trackers and 6 lighthouses is like god’s nectar.

        • lil craig

          dog what are you talking about

          • ViRGiN

            about the imposter

          • purpleduggy

            life is soup, he is fork

    • xyzs

      He doesn’t give a fuck about you.
      He probably never ever heard of you.
      He for sure doesn’t even know who you are and wouldn’t remember.
      Stop pretending you have personal business with him every time there is an article about him to somewhat feel important.
      You are not, you are just the R2VR weirdo.

      • ViRGiN

        Stop getting triggered.
        Why are you against holding people accountable?
        Palmer promised, took personal data from thousands of people, never delivered anything, never apologized, said things are taking longer than expected, didn’t open source it like promised either.

        Oh, and for your information, I’m literally friends with Palmer on facebook.
        Stop acting like you are heir to gayben.

        • xyzs

          LOL you are friend with him…on Facebook. How f-ing pathetic is that claim.

  • purpleduggy

    looking forward to VR hardware prices dropping because of this. if they want to step it up a notch they should make all VR headset 3d design files and schematics available for the 3d print modding community as well as near cost availability on all modular parts, open hardware tech reduces their own costs and they still keep ownership because of licensing and reputable manufacturing. like how framework laptops do things. this is the right way to do things and will make it far more accessible and widespread. meta already does this with their massive open source codebase. they should extend it to all hardware where possible and profitable.

    • ApocalypseShadow

      That’s not going to happen. Even Carmack has a problem with it.

      Facebook sells their Quest headsets at pretty much cost. They are taking huge losses to try and gain control of the market. Those other companies don’t have a social media advertising and data gathering platform to subsidize their headsets.

      Consumers get more choice in devices. Yet developers now have to make their software work across multiple headsets. The OS is the same. But what if other headset manufacturers add other things that may break that cross compatibility? How do they lower the cost of their headsets to compete against Facebook? How do indie developers who are already developing on a budget, make games across multiple headsets. How do they match Facebook’s marketing to sell software? Is Facebook picking up the tab?

      Democratizing the industry is cool in theory. But what’s their (hardware manufacturers)incentive to make headsets?

      It will be interesting to see them execute their plan

      • So not tryin’ to be a dick here, but all this talk I’ve heard
        about all these new inbound AIOs is precisely that: just talk.
        IMHO, I don’t think there’ll even *be* “multiple headsets” from which to choose.
        Google/Samsung will dip their toes, AGAIN, and then it’ll be off to
        the infamous Google Graveyard with whatever they show on May 14th.
        []^ )

      • NL_VR

        The Company name is Meta

        • I’m sorry …??

          • NL_VR

            You dont have to feel sorry.
            What is up with some people apologies everything

          • Nepenthe

            “I’m sorry?” can mean “excuse me can you repeat that?” in spoken language.

            In print, it usually means “please help me understand what you mean by clarifying or extrapolating on what you said.”

        • ApocalypseShadow

          Yeah. And Twitter is called X. Which is just as dumb.

          Thanks for playing.

          • NL_VR

            Nothing is similar in that comparison.

          • thoms

            And your ‘The Company name is Meta’ is one of these 3

            – confusing
            – obviously (not for me)
            – redundant (can’t make that call)

          • NL_VR

            Hes always writing wrong company name.

      • purpleduggy

        its the easiest and least interesting position to be nihilistic about everything and yet here i am playing xbox game pass over the cloud on my meta quest 3 with custom 3d printed watercooling loop running an OC with custom overclocked firmware. being able to buy any modular part on the quest 3, and having full access to 3d print files and schematics for the whole headset.

        • ApocalypseShadow

          And what does that have to do with the discussion? Playing the losing company in 3rd in consoles, where game pass hasn’t grown enough, which is why they are releasing their games on Sony’s and Nintendo’s hardware, which is hilarious and unheard of in console history, is not something to be happy about. But you do you.

          Microsoft tried the same nonsense. Multiple manufacturers made Windows headsets for PC. Did Microsoft share royalties from the Windows store with those companies? Do you think Valve shared royalties with those companies because they were compatible to play Steam VR games? Did any of those companies make actual games for those multiple headsets? No. No. No.

          What did we see happen with Windows PC VR headsets? Most dropped off the map as they were not even advertised. There were no games made from those companies to sell their headsets. Even Microsoft didn’t make VR games for Windows headsets until they had a fire sale as they were discontinued. All they made was a crappy Halo demo.

          Best bet was that Microsoft was trying to flood the market with their headsets based on Windows and it bombed. They probably have those manufacturers an incentive to make VR headsets in exchange for a discount on Windows for their businesses.

          How many Windows headsets are still around? Facebook is more than likely making deals with these companies to monopolize the market and kill competition from any outlier company. And a contract that probably stipulates that they can’t work with any other company like Google or Apple in making headsets that would compete against Quest.

          This isn’t done to bring more choice. They just want one OS choice. Theirs.

          • purpleduggy

            So create an alternative and I’ll criticize it. You won’t and can’t. Talk is cheap, try do yourself what you find lacking in companies and their products. No one is stopping you. Inb4 your list of excuses why you can only complain and not show results for what you want to change. You want others to realize your goals for you.

          • foamreality

            Microsoft (WMR) VR: Didn’t make games.Failed
            Samsung VR: Didn’t make games. failed
            HTC VR: Didn’t make games. Failed.
            Pimax VR: Didn’t make games, failed
            Occulus PCVR: Made few games, gave up. Failed
            Valve VR: Made 1 game, walked back to 2D sales

            Meta: Ported old occulus PCVR games, added compression artifacts, failing.

            Its been obvious for a long time what the issue with VR is (both PCVR or standalone) .In their eagerness to wall us in to get hold of our data and money they forgot to ask why anyone would want to buy a headset in the first place. Nobody cares about the OS or the hardware. We need games. And none of these major companies are talking about making games/software/VR entertainment. This is compounded by the absurdity of Epic, the one major company who make and distributes games, and happens to sell THE leading VR game software development environment are only intrested in trying to compete with valve’s 2D store and have no plans to make VR games. They too failed.

            You know who won’t fail? Apple. I despise apple, but they spent the last 5 years figuring out why people might actually want to buy a headset. Mind boggling.

    • foamreality

      ‘meta already does this with their massive open source codebase’

      Where is this open source codebase that meta has released?

  • DiegoVR uruguayelmejor

    Alejar a las vr del sector pc para usar android es un suicidio

  • MeowMix

    This is possible because of the pivot they made to Quest, which showed the base configuration for a successful model…..

    • another juan

      Meanwhile, John Carmack, who was a key proponent of the standalone quest model, HATES the idea of diversifying hardware manufacturers at this point: according to him, the efforts on supporting those 3rd party devices will undermine the focus on improving the OS on their own devices

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        AFAIR he was against supporting 3rd party PCVR HMDs during the Rift days due to the extra effort. Regarding Quest, he said they discussed allowing compatible HMDs, it just made no business sense for others to build these.

        Carmack during his Connect 2021 keynote:

        Like Mark said, we sell our headsets, you know, at a loss or break even, there is no profit in the headsets, so there is no way that a company could go and say “I want to make a budget headset, I’m going to undercut the prices here.” without wanting to be able to negotiate for a cut of the ecosystem revenue. That’s just kind of the way those things work.

        Google’s expensive Pixel phones leave room for other manufacturers to make money, which is why Android phones flourished. Android even allows building phones/devices completely free of Google services, using their own stores. None of that is true for Horizon OS XR HMDs.

        Google’s new AndroidXR extension for HMDs isn’t open either, it is forcefully tethered to Google Play services and Play store. Leaving HMD manufacturers the choice between giving all software revenue and user data to either Google or Meta, but at least Google will not also sell their own HMDs at cost.

        • foamreality

          There are ZERO android phones from any major phone manufacturer that don’t include google apps and store and there never have been. Only a handful of modded or specialist phones are sold without google (and almost nobody has heard of those small companies – and they are usually expensive).

          Andoid was built by google so it could collect revenues in its closed source ecosystem (gapps) which it knew every manufacturer would have to include with the operating system (customers would demand gmail/push notifications etc). Horiizon XR is pretty much identical, only the base OS is not open source. But open source android was only ever really of value to people who wanted to legally mod and tinker with their phones. Horizon OS differs only in that it will exclude the latter group.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            You look at it only from a Western perspective. There are 1.7bn smartphones in China, ~25% of all active phone contracts worldwide. With Android having ~80% market share and Google services blocked, manufacturers like Huawei, Oppo, Vivo or Xiaomi offer their own stores. If you order a smartphone from e.g. AliExpress, it may come with a (non licensed) version of Play services and store, but often also several other stores installed.

            Android was based on the Dalvik Java VM for low power devices, because at a time most mobile app targeted the JVM ME from Sun, causing Oracle to later sue Google for royalties after buying Sun. Android’s purpose was to protect Google’s ad business, with Google paying billions to be kept the default search engine in browsers. App store development and Google apps bringing in gazillions only came later, explaining the Android loopholes allowing non-Google services. But these now enable/force China with 25% market share to come up with open alternatives to AndroidXR and Horizon OS, with a much higher chance of being accepted worldwide, as XR is less established than mobile phones.

      • Sven Viking

        Not sure about ‘HATES’ — he listed some pros and cons. It certainly did sound like he thinks it’s a net negative though.

      • Guest

        You forgot the other big point he made — accessibility. He advocated for mobile hardware VR because of accessible pricing reasons, as well as frictionless use. He’s a big reason the Quest 2 was $299. When you have 3rd party manufacturers making the headset, they don’t get to farm and sell your data or get store software cuts as profit. They need to make all their margins on the hardware, which means they can never compete with the subsidized cost of the Quest headsets. This either means they will have to sell the headsets for no money which obviously won’t happen, or the Quest will have to get a price increase to not undercut their Meta’s hardware partners OR the Quest will retire entirely.

        So basically, customers lose because all headsets are going to be a minimum 20% more expensive for the same thing we’re getting now.

        • (also, used Quest 2’s are like $100 now, so can you even imagine competing with that??)

        • foamreality

          Brand new $1200 samsung android phones compete just fine with with brand new $150 Xiaomi phones. People WANT expensive (even if some want cheap)

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            People are willing to pay a lot for something they will get a real benefit from, and we use our mobile phones A LOT these days. Meanwhile ~60% of those who got a Quest 2, which isn’t anywhere as versatile and useful as a phone, stop using it after a few months. And they often got it for free as a Christmas present. Luckey’s “Free isn’t Cheap Enough” from 2018 still applies.

            People really into VR may be willing to pay thousands for a fast PC plus Index/Beyond/Pimax Crystal, but these a) already know VR provides them a huge benefit justifying the cost and b) are rather rare. In contrast Quest Pro with a (hypothetical) benefit for business, but not a lot actual benefit for the existing Quest user base, failed hard at USD 1500, and dropping the price to USD 1000 didn’t save it either.

            A lot of people said they’d be interested in AVP, if it wasn’t for the USD 3500 price, but we will have to see if this actually holds true. USD 1000+ XR HMDs are in no way as sure to sell as similar priced phones are. And there is a reason why Quest 2 still outsells Quest 3, and a USD 200 Quest 3 lite is expected.

          • foamreality

            A fair point, but people ARE paying $1000+ for PCVR headsets with OLDE/higher res screens. Vario is doing fine. And £300 quest (1-4) are not going to sell as well as a low/mid range android phone either.

      • YES! OMG, Yes. That was my first thought hearing this, “Why do we need more hardware to splinter the market?!”.

      • Seb

        I woulnt pay too much attention to what Carmack has to say :) He is “just” innovative programmer – that’s about it. The mere fact that he jumped on Palmer’s wagon and involved in developing VR headsets doesnt make him miraculously some kind of VR Prophet or Wise Man. Of course I understand that he is quick to present his opinion in the field he is emotionally involved in – that’s obvious (especially if it gives him an opportunity to pinch somone he doesnt like too much..:P) but its not worth more than an opinion of a car constructor/designer on the car company’s business strategy… :)

  • Mike

    i think the timing of this move by meta is probably because they know valve is about to move on a new stand-alone vr headset with steam os built in and a proton layer that makes pcvr games compatible with it. this could do for VR what they did for the handheld market with steamdeck. maybe they release Half life 3 as a launch title. they could open that platform up just like there steam machines to 3rd part developers such as pimax with their crystal headset for instance.

    • MeowMix


    • purpleduggy

      steam deck in a vr headset is gonna be lit

  • Facebook losses almost 4 BILLION dollars, just recently, pushing out (arguable amazing) hardware. And that’s not over the lifetime of the Quest, that’s just one quarter of a year….. and Zuckerberg thinks, “Who else wants to join in?”.

    Is he high? I mean, that would explain those eyes.

    But really, Pico is dropping out of manufacturing for a reason. Apple’s snail-trail of late, under featured hardware has rolled out to excite their slobbing fanboys, but outside of the latest status symbol for the mentally challenged, where is the HUGE lust for VR hardware that would drive any properly thinking company into the folds at this time??

    I love VR, and John Carmack’s baby, the Quest, is the best thing since sliced bread… but DAMN… it’s not looking so hot with sales. It’s not looking so hot with software, either.

    I look over the catalog for playable titles, and 90% of them say, “Bought”. I don’t buy games all the time, there’s just that few to choose from. And despite popping onto every forum I can, talking about how easy it is to add VR features (especially if the game uses the Unreal Engine), most dev’s, and most of their fans, say, “Meh”. Some fans were outright hostile that I would even think of distracting their precious dev’s with such “unimportant” features. :O

    I’d hope they’d concentrating on begging/pleading/bribing dev’s into adding VR support to keep their money draining turkey afloat… not hoping, in vain, somebody else would jump into this sinking ship of MASSIVE hardware losses.

    • Jonathan Winters III

      True that nearly every VR title of a big pancake franchise, gets discussions on Steam flooded with “who cares about VR, what about us” etc. I guess 99% market share isn’t enough for entitled pancake anti-vr gamers lol

    • purpleduggy

      so develop an alternative for cheaper that outperforms the quest 3. you wont and can’t.

  • nejihiashi88

    lets hope that a company build a premium meta with high PPD and foveated rendering that we can connect it to pc for pc power i would buy that even if it is 4x the price of quest 3

  • Lucidfeuer

    He might be right on the “too little, too late” part, and it’s not like the OS will be accessible to any brand/manufacturer I’m sure. If anything this might just be a convolution on the fact that just one headset, the Google x Samsung, might release with this OS like in the GearVR/Daydream period.

    And it’s not nearly enough (or at least too late) to push and expand the development of the market beyond it’s current situation give the overall context of crisis and mediocrity :/

  • Ardra Diva

    Fond memories of GearVR. Samsung pumped a huge amount of content into that, its app market absolutely dwarfed Oculus’. And it was honestly not that far off of the first Quest headsets in performance and quality. Quest 3 sets the bar for a proper VR/MR headset in 2024, just like the Surface set the bar for a proper Windows touchscreen device years ago.