Echo VR: Meta to Shut Down One of Its Most Popular Games

Meta announced that Echo VR, one of its most popular free-to-play games on the Quest, will shut down on August 1. While the game itself has always been free, it’s had a vibrant in-app purchase system where players could pay to unlock cosmetic rewards and other items.

As Road2VR notes,

Echo VR has had a storied journey, having originally launched as an Oculus Rift exclusive title all the way back in 2017. In 2020 the game made the leap to Quest, allowing cross-play multiplayer between Rift and Quest players. Shortly thereafter, Meta announced that it had acquired the game’s developer, Ready at Dawn.

The VR game took off once it reached the Quest and remains to this day the tenth most popular VR game in the Quest Store. It’s also been the #1 eSports title for VR with fans, players, and tournaments around the world.

What Made Echo VR Unique

One of the most striking aspects of Echo VR was its use of virtual space and its simulation of a gravity-free environment. In a world where we constantly seem to replicate the physical world in virtual environments (the recent concept of “Metaversities” where higher ed institutions are duplicating physical campuses), Echo VR demonstrated how you could leverage XR in new ways. We may be bound by gravity in our everyday lives, but why do we insist on recreating our physical spaces (chairs, auditoriums, classrooms, etc.) in the virtual world? The genius of Echo VR’s game space was to not be bound by the game spaces we know in the physical world.

The creative game space in Echo VR.
The creative, gravity-free, game space in Echo VR.

It was also a great introduction to VR gaming and the use of AI-generated opponents. Unlike many popular games, Echo VR gave you the feeling that you were playing against real opponents, not just a machine. Its AI-generated opponents were challenging enough (and you could customize their skill levels) that you never felt cheated when you wanted to do a solo experience. Honestly, given how so many VR experiences – including Echo VR – have been overrun by screaming foul-mouthed kids not even close to the minimum age to use the Quest, the AI characters often seemed more human than real human opponents.

Will There be a Follow-up Game?

With the announcement that AltSpaceVR will close in March, 2023 isn’t off to a great start for freely accessible VR platforms. And given that Meta owns the studio behind Echo VR, Ready at Dawn, we doubt the platform will get a reprieve. While the studio claims to be working on its next project, Road2VR notes that the recent layoffs at Meta may be a factor in its demise. And as we’ve noted elsewhere, rising interest rates have dried up the “free” money that floated many XR projects behind the scenes. We’re not that confident that Meta will release a sequel.

Whatever follows Echo VR, we hope that can be as creative with virtual environments. But until then, best you suit up now and get into the arena before it disappears on August 1st.

Players in Echo VR.