Facebook announced today that it has discontinued the Oculus Go virtual reality headset as it focuses its efforts on the higher-end Oculus Quest and Rift S headsets exclusively. The Oculus Go was the company's first wireless, all-in-one VR headset aimed at a mass market, but its inherent limitations meant to had limited appeal for developers and risked putting consumers off VR without really having tried the best version of it.
Quest is the future — Facebook says it's killing the Go because the Quest is much more capable and popular among VR enthusiasts. The Go offers only three degrees of freedom, meaning the headset can track a limited number of head motions. The Quest, on the other hand, has six degrees of freedom — it can track head motions as well as the wearer's movements forward, backward, laterally, or vertically. Facebook says this level of tracking is the "future of VR." And it's probably right.
Simplifying the lineup — The Oculus Go was an affordable entry-point to VR at $199, but anyone who tries VR and likes it will want the Quest with its higher screen resolution and faster processor. And people with only a casual interest in VR aren't likely to spend $199 for a headset they use occasionally. The Quest is more expensive at $399 but supports both wireless gameplay as well as connecting to a gaming PC, which is a tethered experience but can offer more processing power for improved gaming experiences. At the top of the pile is the Oculus Rift S, which can only be used tethered to a top-spec gaming PC, significantly increasing the overall cost.
By killing off the Oculus Go, Facebook is also consolidating its lineup so it's less confusing for consumers. You really only have two headsets now: The Oculus Quest, which is great for gamers without a powerful gaming PC, and the Rift S, which has a higher refresh rate than the Quest and is perfect for people who already have a capable desktop and want the best experience, or developers working at the bleeding edge of VR technology.
VR's success rests on uptake — Facebook also announced today that it's introducing a way for developers to distribute Quest apps outside of the official store where they'd have to share revenue with the company. Facebook hopes this will spur more developers to create apps for the headsets. The company hopes that VR will in the future become a new platform for social interaction and consumption of content that it can monetize. Apple and HTC are making similar bets. For that to happen, more users need to be sold on VR, and the Oculus Go probably wasn't helping that mission.