#1173: Echo VR Reflections from 2019 by Sonya Haskins + My Thoughts of Echo VR Shut Down Announcement

I dig into my interview backlog archive from April 2019 at F8 (a month before the Quest launch) to publish this conversation with Sonya Haskins, who shares her journey into VR through eSports and the Echo VR community. Haskins is a writer who published a couple of guest editorials on UploadVR starting in 2017 about how VR changed her perspective on gaming, and then a recent piece titled “Echo VR’s Loss Reverberates In Reality” reacting to the shut down announcement on the previous day. On January 31, Ready at Dawn announced that “after many discussions internally and with our partners at Meta, we have made the difficult decision to shut down Echo VR.”

Meta CTO Andrew “Boz” Bosworth explained in an Instagram AMA on February 2nd that “The user base is small. It’s loyal as all get-out, but it’s small. It’s measured in the low 10 thousands. And unfortunately keeping things alive takes work. This is not like a return on investment money standpoint, it’s just those resources could be put to other uses that I think will be useful to the now tens of millions of people who are in VR.”

Even though John Carmack is no long a consulting CTO for Meta, Carmack still shared some in-depth thoughts with UploadVR saying, “Even if there are only ten thousand active users, destroying that user value should be avoided if possible. Your company suffers more harm when you take away something dear to a user than you gain in benefit by providing something equally valuable to them or others. User value is my number one talking point by far, but “focus” is pretty high up there as well, and opportunity cost is a real thing.”

I wanted to share this archival interview that I did with Haskins in 2019 since she talks about her journey into VR through Echo VR (originally titled Echo Arena, but rebranded in 2018), reflects on what VR and eSports has meant to her, especially as she’s gone on over the past 3+ years to work within the XR industry as a key community organizer and she’s currently the Head of Programming for the Augmented World Expo. And the community of Echo VR players have a number of campaigns ongoing in their attempts to #SaveEchoVR.

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Music: Fatality