Meta’s Social VR Platform Horizon Worlds Hits 300,000 Monthly Users
Meta’s social VR platform has now seen a tenfold increase in monthly users since it came out of private beta three months ago.
Meta, formerly Facebook, is betting big on the metaverse and virtual reality. Not only is it in the process of a major rebranding effort to its new Meta brand identity but the tech giant has also been spending billions of dollars in acquiring and developing immersive hardware and software platforms that go beyond its traditional forte of social media. However, so far, Meta has been divulging very little on how its huge metaverse gamble has been faring.
One of its biggest metaverse projects at the moment is the social VR platform for Meta Quest (2) Horizon Worlds. The social gaming platform was recently featured in Meta’s primetime Super Bowl ad. Zuckerberg has also referred to Horizon as “core” to Meta’s metaverse vision during its most recent earnings call. During a recent virtual all-hands meeting during which Zuckerberg said that Meta employees will now be called “Metamates”, the chief product officer at the company, Chris Cox provided an update on the Horizon user growth.
According to Cox, following the rollout of the social VR platform to Quest users in the U.S. and Canada in early December 2021, the monthly user base grew tenfold, hitting 300,000 users per month. The stat was confirmed by Meta spokesperson Joe Osborne who also stated that this stat included users on both Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues, which is a separate app for attending live events reality and which has the same avatars and mechanics. However, this figure does not include the userbase in the VR conferencing experience Horizon Workrooms which is based on an invite system.
Before its rollout in December 2021, Horizon Worlds was previously in a private beta where creators tested its world-building tools. Horizon works like the gaming platforms Roblox or Microsoft’s Minecraft where users can build custom environments where they can play and hang out as legless avatars. Meta also revealed that up to 10,000 worlds have been created in Horizon Worlds so far. Meta’s private Facebook group for creators has also grown to more than 20,000 members.
It is too early to gauge whether Horizon Worlds will sustain the exponential growth and retain users over the long haul given that it has only been widely available for three months. The platform was certainly helped by the Quest headset holiday sales which saw many users try out Horizon.
Meta is yet to disclose the number of Quest headsets it has sold so far so it has hard to assess Horizon World’s performance relative to the underlying hardware being used. However, a Qualcomm statement from late last year put the number at over 10 million based on the number of chips shipped by the company. Zuckerberg has recently said that the company would release a mobile version of Horizon that will enable users on platforms beyond VR to get a taste of the metaverse.
For end-users, however, the most realistic and most immersive metaverse experiences are always going to be in high-end virtual reality platforms but Zuckerberg says that users will also enjoy these experiences on platforms Instagram and Facebook apps on their smartphones. By creating a mobile-based metaverse experience for Horizon, the social VR platform would be on the path to competing with Rec Room which offers a social gaming experience on VR, mobile phones, and gaming consoles and already has more than 37 million monthly users across all platforms.
Horizon World’s isn’t monetized yet but it is under tremendous pressure to succeed given Meta’s recent stock plunge as investors are still nervous about its aggressive and expensive metaverse play.
Meta still has miles to travel with Horizon Worlds. It has to address problems with content moderation and underage virtual reality users. The platform also has to be sufficiently reliable for the millions of users expected to hop in the coming years. Recently, players were unable to join a Foo Fighters concert that occurred in Venues following the Super Bowl. Horizon is yet to monetize the platform so creators have no way of making money in its environments. However, the early user growth seen in the last three months is promising.