Internal Memo Shows Horizon Worlds Too Buggy and Not Being Used by Employees
Meta’s flagship metaverse social network Horizon Worlds is reportedly grappling with various quality issues and isn’t being used even by the team building it according to an internal memo from a Meta exec. that urges employees to begin falling in love with the VR social network.
The Verge reports that Horizon Worlds has been suffering from “too many quality issues” and that the company is struggling to persuade its own employees to use the metaverse app.
The situation is reportedly so bad that Meta is trying to coerce its employees to use the Horizon Worlds metaverse app. The memo says the company will go as far as to “hold managers accountable” for their teams using the primary metaverse app.
The Verge report cites an internal memo dated September 15th from Meta’s VR of Metaverse Vishal Shah. The memo stated that the Horizon team will stay in a “quality lockdown” for the remainder of the year to ensure the team fixes the “quality gaps and performance issues” before the Horizon Worlds platform is opened to more users.
Horizon Worlds is Meta’s premier pitch for the metaverse. It consists of a free virtual reality environment where users can explore, create and play with others. The experience is currently available on Meta Quest 2 and Oculus Rift S but plans are underway to launch it on other platforms, including 2D platforms. It will definitely be available in Meta’s upcoming Quest Pro headset that launches early next week.
The universe in Horizon Worlds consists of ever-expanding virtual experiences that have been designed and created by its community of users. Everything on Horizon Worlds has been exclusively created using the Horizon creation tools.
The Horizon Worlds platform enables users to build and interact with virtual worlds using legless avatars. It has been described as a mishmash of Roblox and Minecraft. Horizon Worlds is a flagship Meta project following its rebrand from Facebook to Meta last year. Meta is currently pouring billions of dollars into building out its vision of the metaverse which includes hardware, a software or app ecosystem, and the Horizon Worlds metaverse platform. Horizon Worlds was first released on Meta Quest in December 2021. In early 2022, the platform hit 300,000 users. It is also set to launch on mobile and on the desktop through a web version. However, the Vishal memo suggests the web launch could be pushed back.
The Vishal memo states that since its launch last year, the company established that Horizon Worlds’ “core thesis” remains strong. However, Shah acknowledges that feedback from a diverse set of users, creators, and playtesters as well as many others in the team cited stability issues, bugs, and an “aggregate weight of papercuts” which made it difficult for the community to fully experience the potential of the metaverse social network. The Shah memo notes that an experience must be “usable and well crafted” for it to be “delightful and retentive”.
Meta has already experimented with lifelike avatars on its metaverse app although the quality of graphics on the platform still leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you compare it with non-VR portals such as Fortnite. A recent screenshot of a Zuckerberg Horizon avatar was widely teased and memeified which prompted the Meta boss to issue a follow-up with a more advanced avatar along with a promise to share “major updates to Horizon and avatar graphics” at the Connect conference which takes place on October 11.
Shah’s internal memo states that a major issue with the development of Horizon Worlds has been the fact that those that actually build it inside the company itself don’t seem to be using the platform much. Shah notes as much in his internal memo and says this assertion is supported by dogfooding dashboards. He goes as far as posing the question “if we don’t love it, how can we expect our users to love it?”
The Verge reports that on September 30, Shah issued a follow-up memo where he lamented that Horizon Worlds was still not being used enough by employees and that a plan was being put in place to “hold managers accountable” for ensuring their teams use the metaverse platform “at least once a week.”
The follow-up memo states that everyone in Meta should make it “their mission to fall in love with Horizon Worlds” and this can only be done by using it. “Get in there”, the memo calls on employees. It goes on to suggest ways of doing this such as employees organizing times to use Horizon Worlds with their colleagues or friends, not only in internal builds but also with the public in order for them to interact with the community.
Shah also mentions specific issues with the metaverse platform and writes that the platform’s onboarding experience has been “confusing and frustrating for users”. He states that the team building the platform needs to introduce new users to “top-notch worlds” that will dazzle users on their first visits and ensure it is successful in roping them into Meta’s social VR world.
Shah says Meta’s teams building Horizon Worlds should “collaborate better together” and there will be more changes to come. The memo says the company isn’t working with enough flexibility since the product it is building is yet to find a product market fit. Shah, therefore, urges the teams working on Horizon to “fully embrace ambiguity and change.”
The memo also says that the Meta teams working on Horizon will soon have their targets for ramping up user numbers lowered and that the Horizon for web, the coming 2D version of the platform, will focus on raising a “high-quality bar” rather than user targets.
Meta spokesperson Ashley Zandy told The Verge that the company is still confident in the metaverse as representing the future of computing and that this technology ought to be built around people. Zandy stated that Meta is constantly making quality improvements and incorporating feedback from its community of creators. She describes the development of Horizon Worlds as a “multiyear journey” where the company is looking to improve on what it builds.