Legendary Name Abandons Zuckerberg’s Creepy Metaverse

John Carmack knows a bit about doom.

In fact, if you know Carmack’s name, it’s likely because he’s one of the three main programmers on seminal 1993 PC game “Doom,” a first-person shooter famous for its creepy, ultra-violent demonic imagery and the attendant media controversy.

Twenty-nine years later, he’s making news again, this time for abandoning something creepier, just as controversial and chock full of doom: Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse.

According to a report from The New York Times last week, Carmack announced that he was leaving Zuckerberg’s Meta after over eight years doing the virtual reality work that made the metaverse possible, criticizing the social media giant for its clunky, poorly received transition into a fully immersive second-reality.

Nor did Carmack leave on terms that might be called amicable.

In an internal blog post on a company forum, Carmack said Meta was functioning at “half the effectiveness” it should be and has “a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we constantly self-sabotage and squander effort.”

“It has been a struggle for me,” Carmack wrote.

“I have a voice at the highest levels here, so it feels like I should be able to move things, but I’m evidently not persuasive enough.”

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Carmack also criticized Meta’s most visible virtual reality headset product, the Quest 2, saying it was “almost exactly what I wanted to see from the beginning” but that, because of problematic software, the company had only “built something pretty close to The Right Thing.”

Carmack still didn’t give up on the concept, writing that “V.R. can bring value to most of the people in the world, and no company is better positioned to do it than Meta.”

However, he said he had “wearied of the fight” to bring the metaverse to the masses and was going to focus on his artificial intelligence startup.

Carmack, as one of the founders of the pioneering gaming company id Software, had helped pioneer the immersive kind of 3D graphics that made virtual reality possible in the first place; titles like “Wolfenstein 3D,” “Doom” and “Quake” made the company influential, both culturally and technologically.

In 2013, Carmack joined V.R. startup Oculus as its chief technology officer. Oculus was acquired by Facebook as part of their move into a fully immersive metaverse concept for the future of social media.

However, the Times noted, Carmack “was sometimes a dissenting voice about how the effort was going. He became known for internal posts that criticized the decision-making and direction set forth by Mr. Zuckerberg and Andrew Bosworth, Meta’s chief technology officer. Mr. Carmack had been working part-time for the company in recent years.”

The metaverse has been slammed both for its concept — seen by many as dystopian and intrusive, especially from a company with a proven track record of ignoring privacy concerns and encouraging unhealthy behaviors — and its execution, which took a preternaturally creepy concept and somehow made it look worse than you might have otherwise imagined:

Little wonder, then, that the concept has fallen short of expectations. According to an October report in The Wall Street Journal, the company had initially planned for 500,000 active users a month for its main metaverse consumer platform, Horizon Worlds, but later revised that downward to 280,000. Internal documents show it isn’t even drawing that, with only 200,000 active users a month. Furthermore, the majority of users don’t return to Horizon Worlds after the first month of use.

Also in October, The Verge reported that even Meta employees weren’t engaging with Horizon Worlds and that the team was on “quality lockdown” until the end of the year to fix bugs and quality control issues in the virtual world.

“For many of us, we don’t spend that much time in Horizon and our dogfooding dashboards show this pretty clearly,” Vishal Shah, Meta’s vice president of the metaverse, wrote in a memo to employees on Sep. 15. “Why is that? Why don’t we love the product we’ve built so much that we use it all the time? The simple truth is, if we don’t love it, how can we expect our users to love it?”

“Today, we are not operating with enough flexibility,” the memo read. “I want to be clear on this point. We are working on a product that has not found product market fit. If you are on Horizon, I need you to fully embrace ambiguity and change.”

Well, at the very least, Carmack won’t have to be fully embracing that ambiguity and change in the metaverse, whatever it may entail. The man who helped create “Doom” knows doom, after all.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.