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Meta (Facebook) has released a social VR experience called ‘Horizon Worlds’, giving users the first real look at the ‘Metaverse’ described by Mark Zuckerberg in the company’s recent re-brand announcements.
What Is Horizon Worlds?
Horizon Worlds (which launched via invite-only in beta last year) is a free, virtual space app that has been built with the Horizon creation tools. Users (over 18 and in the US and Canada) can create their own avatar, explore, work with others, and build and play their own games and activities as well as playing Meta’s base game. The user’s legless, floating avatar can fly around the virtual world and assemble a custom digital environment from building blocks and use pre-made code snippet scripts to set the rules for the games they create.
Meta says that a community has already begun to form around Horizon Worlds. Some of the community’s favourite games and activities that users can try out and experience include:
– A retro, arcade-style multiplayer platform battle royale with a vapor-wave theme called ‘Pixel Plummet’.
– A game called Wand & Broom where users can fly above ‘Townscity’ on a magic broom.
– A relaxing virtual ride on a river aboard a triple-decker riverboat, called ‘Mark’s Riverboat’.
The Metaverse is Facebook’s re-invention of its platform for the future and some critics have said it’s a way for the company to escape some of its problems and bad publicity in recent times (e.g., allegations by the whistleblower Frances Haugen). The vision for Horizon Worlds is “to develop a VR space with best-in-class tools for creators to build words and explore together.”
Although an enthusiastic community has already built-up around Horizon Worlds and many people are excited about trying the experience, it’s still early days and this has brought inevitable criticism. For example, some have described Horizon Worlds as a lesser version of Minecraft.
Funding and Prizes
To help improve the experience and provide motivation for users to create, Meta announced a $10 million Creator Fund in October and has launched a Creator Competition with cash prizes.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
For developers and those interested in creating games, Horizon Worlds provides new opportunities which could lead to new collaborative relationships, a way to showcase their talent, and perhaps develop potentially commercial game ideas, and win cash prizes. For Facebook, it’s a way to move more quickly towards their vision for the future of the platform, escape recent woes and bad publicity, harness the interest of younger users, and discover new product ideas and opportunities. For other social and developer platforms, it’s certainly something to watch closely (and experiment with), and it is potentially an area where they may wish to compete and stop Meta from gaining too much of an early advantage, should it prove to be very popular.