Meta’s Facebook is (was?) One of the most popular social media platforms in the world, with billions of users. However, its failing virtual reality metaverse project, Horizon Worlds, isn’t doing nearly as well. In fact, a new report shows that barely anyone is spending much time in Horizon Worlds at all, with most user-created worlds going completely unvisited. Meanwhile, Second Life and VRChat have more concurrent users, according to folks at Meta.
According to a new report from the Wall Street Journalinternal documents and employees at Meta paint a picture that nobody is really playing Horizon Worlds, its free-to-play virtual reality metaverse that lets users create and visit “worlds” with friends or strangers. Think Roblox, but more cold and heartless. The company initially hoped to have 500,000 monthly active users visiting these various virtual worlds. Now that number has been revised to around 200,000.
Internal stats show that most players don’t stick around after their first month in Horizon Worlds and Meta has seen a steady decline in active users since spring. WSJ reports that of all the user-created worlds in the game, only about nine percent are visited by more than 50 players. The majority of the rest are never visited by anyone besides the initial creator. The end result is a lot of empty, barren digital lands. Even Questy’s—-a world created by Meta as part of a larger Super Bowl marketing push—-Is a giant flop, with very few users visiting.
“An empty world is a sad world,” said one document seen by the WSJ.
And while the Quest 2 headset has sold very well, a lot of the customers aren’t returning to play anything. It’s reported that more than half of all Quest headsets stop being used by players after only six months.
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As for why people aren’t flocking to the expensive metaverse that Facebook has created, a survey run by Meta researchers found users mostly complained about being unable to find worlds they liked and rarely found others to interact with. Other complaints included in-game people not looking “real” enough. Some even had issues with the lack of Horizon World avatar legs. I guess that explains all the fanfare around legs being added to the game earlier this month, even if the announcement was a lie.
The WSJ notes that the researchers at Meta only spoke to 514 people because of how few folks are playing, calling the current active playerbase “small and precious.” It’s not surprising to hear that, according to those familiar with Horizon Worldsthe app has fewer concurrent users than VRChat and 2003’s Second Life.
The rest of the report isn’t much better and is further evidence that the VR metaverse future that so many companies and tech bros are trying to peddle is likely not going to stick with folks. Hell, the people who work at Meta don’t want to use Horizon Worlds. And Meta seems to get how unpopular all this shit is with your average consumer, as it’s now begun to pivot its new VR headsets toward big companies that can be tricked into making their employees wear a VR headset for eight hours a day at work. But at least folks will always have the Walmart Metaverse to hang out in between breaks, right?