Meta vs Oculus: A VR Branding Disaster 

What’s in a name? Sounds like a simple question doesn’t it but when you’re talking brands and multinational companies things get a bit more complicated. But that’s exactly what Mark Zuckerberg did, not once, but twice. In 2021 the social behemoth Facebook became Meta and in doing so the Facebook name became just another app under the new moniker. At the same time, Oculus, once the virtual reality arm of Facebook, saw its name and legacy slowly wiped away. Not entirely, however. 

Meta vs Oculus

When it comes to VR, Meta Quest 2 games are at the top of the pile, thanks to a combination of affordability and content library. Go onto Meta’s own website or an affiliated retailer and you’ll see the white headset proudly labelled the “Meta Quest 2”.  

At launch, it was Oculus Quest 2 and it seems as though that name is stickier than Meta would like. Oculus was co-founded in 2012 by Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Michael Antonov and Nate Mitchell. Luckey was the figurehead, the driving force behind the company’s first consumer product, the Oculus Rift, which launched in 2016. VR might have existed in one form or another for decades, but it was thanks to Oculus that true consumer VR came to life.  

Such was the excitement in those early years that Facebook (Meta) bought Oculus for $2 billion USD in 2014. Thus, ensuring the VR company never had any financial worries moving forward.  

International VR trends

But VR fans won’t let the Oculus name die out. In fact, a look at Google Trends offers a unique insight into the worldwide brand reach, even today. In worldwide search results the Oculus name has declined, obviously, but it still beats “Meta Quest 2” during the course of the last 12 months, even during the crucial festive season. Which you might suspect would happen given Meta’s massive branding push as well as the release of Meta Quest Pro.

Meta vs Oculus
Google search term results for Oculus Quest 2 & Meta Quest 2

Even narrowing down the trend results to the past 30 days shows that worldwide, the Oculus brand is still strong. Even if it is very slowly waning.

Meta vs Oculus

Regional VR trends

The figures get even more interesting when looked at regionally. As you can see, not a single country that Google Trends has analytics for shows Meta Quest 2 doing better than Oculus Quest 2. Even on Meta’s home turf of the US – which has featured extensive coverage of the rebranding – consumers are still searching for Oculus. 83% for Oculus in fact, leaving only a measly 17% of searches for the Meta Quest brand.

Meta vs Oculus

Those numbers are similar almost the world over. Surprisingly, it is Japan where the company’s new branding has made the most inroads, with Oculus and Meta Quest searches coming in at 63% and 37% respectively. After that, the top ten features mostly European countries, with the UK, Austria, Switzerland and Italy all in the top five. The US just sneaks in at 10 when comparing both search terms.

So what does this all mean, really? That in the hearts and minds of VR enthusiasts the world over Oculus is still alive and kicking – even if the bigwigs are intent on its obliteration. Oculus also evokes nostalgia for a very different time within the VR industry. A time of youthful exuberance, an unwavering belief that VR could and will become the gaming medium of the future. So much was new, unknown and untested, as the peak of the hype cycle neared ever closer. And nurturing that from day one was Oculus.