In context: Initially released as a part of VR adventure Lone Echo, Echo VR is an early "VR sport" example for the Oculus Rift (and later Quest) HMD VR system. After acquiring the developer (Ready at Dawn) in 2020, Meta has now announced that the multiplayer experience will finally shut down by this Summer.

Tens of thousands of players are still enjoying (and supporting) Echo VR, but Meta CTO Andrew "Boz" Bosworth said that the resources the company is now using to run the game could be used to benefit the "now tens of millions of people" with VR systems in their home. Bosworth also said that John Carmack would not have shut down Echo VR, and Carmack answered back stating that he believes in "saving everything."

The genius developer who brought us Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake and many other gaming classics before resigning from id Software in 2013 left Meta's VR efforts by the end of 2022 sharing a sour note about the "self-sabotaging" mode the company was working in. As he revealed in a recent statement, Carmack reached out to Bosworth as soon as he heard about the end-of-life announcement for Echo VR to express his dissatisfaction.

The former CTO of Oculus VR said he thought abandoning Oculus Rooms and all the Gear/VR/Go content was a mistake, especially when his emulation layer worked for "at least a good chunk of things." Carmack believes in saving everything, and he clearly doesn't like the trend of online-only experiences disappearing forever after going below a certain player threshold.

Even when a game or a multiplayer mode can count "only" on ten thousand active users, Carmack said, destroying that user value should be avoided as the company would suffer more harm taking away something users like than gaining in benefit by "providing something equally valuable to them or others." User value is Carmack's number one priority, even though the developer admits that opportunity cost is "a real thing" as well.

Carmack would have preserved the Echo VR experience to some extent, and he is now offering some (unsolicited) advice about how Meta could avoid disappointing VR fans while spending much less money. The possible options described by the developer include a drop to "absolutely minimal support" for the game, with just one programmer in charge of maintaining the code, a project spin-off if someone at Meta is interested in the idea, and finally open sourcing the project for good.

Carmack's concedes his ideas could not be feasible, especially on the open source front as most large commercial codebases use licensed components which would require a significant engineering effort to work around. To ease the code porting pains, Carmack concludes his note with some advice about programming: developers should be "disciplined" about their building process, so that there is at least the "possibility" of making the project open source at a later stage. "Fundamental software engineering" is hard to do right, especially in today's tech environment, Carmack said, but there is a satisfaction to it.