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Monday, March 20, 2023

Meta’s Horizon, the Social VR Platform, Hits 300,000 Active Users

Facebook has rebranded as Meta and is investing billions of dollars a year in hardware and software that goes beyond typical social networking. But, at least so far, the corporation has kept the public in the dark about how well its early bets are going.

Horizon Worlds, a social VR platform for the Quest headset, is Meta’s most visible bet right now. It was recently included in Meta’s Super Bowl ad, and on the company’s most recent earnings conference, Zuckerberg described it as “essential to our metaverse goal.” Chris Cox, the company’s chief product officer, gave staff a previously unreported update on Horizon’s user growth at a virtual Meta all-hands meeting earlier this week — yep, the Metamates one.

According to an employee who overheard the statement, since Horizon Worlds was given out to all Quest users in the US and Canada in early December, its monthly user base has expanded by a factor of ten to 300,000 individuals. Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues, a distinct program for attending live events in VR that employs the same avatars and fundamental concepts, were included in the statistics, according to Meta spokesman Joe Osborne. Horizon Workrooms, a VR conferencing experience that relies on an invite system, isn’t included in the total.

Horizon Worlds was in a private beta for developers to test its world-building tools before its December launch. Horizon Worlds, like Roblox and Microsoft’s Minecraft, allows users to create bespoke habitats in which to hang out and play games as legless avatars. Horizon Worlds has surpassed 10,000 unique worlds constructed to date, according to Meta, and its private Facebook community for creators currently has over 20,000 members.

Given that Horizon Worlds has only been publicly available for a few months, it’s too early to say whether the platform’s quick growth will continue or whether it will be able to maintain members over time. Cox didn’t tell his workers that monthly users for social goods are always more than daily users. And the Quest headset’s sales spiked throughout the holiday season, piqued people’s curiosity in experiencing Horizon.

Horizon’s performance is difficult to measure in relation to the underlying hardware platform because Meta hasn’t revealed how many Quest headsets it has sold to date. However, numerous third-party estimates put the Quest’s sales at around 10 million. Meta will release a version of Horizon for mobile phones later this year, according to Zuckerberg, in order to “deliver early metaverse experiences to additional surfaces outside VR.”

“While the deepest and most immersive experiences will be in virtual reality, you’ll also be able to access the worlds via your Facebook or Instagram applications, and perhaps more in the future,” the CEO stated during Meta’s most recent earnings call. Horizon’s mobile release would make it a stronger rival to Rec Room, a well-funded social gaming platform with 37 million monthly players spanning consoles, mobile phones, and virtual reality.

Despite the fact that Horizon Worlds has yet to generate revenue for Meta, the pressure is on for it to succeed, especially considering how the company’s price has plummeted as investors doubt the company’s costly metaverse drive.

Meta must make Horizon stable enough for millions to utilize, in addition to resolving issues with content moderation and underage users in VR. Many people were unable to attend a recent Foo Fighters performance conducted in Venues following the Super Bowl, and Horizon has yet to create revenue-generating opportunities for producers. Horizon, on the other hand, has a chance to be large if its early user growth is any indication.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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