Horizon Worlds Still Facing the Challenge of Attracting and Retaining Users
Internal documents show the Horizon Worlds social VR platform is still struggling to keep users. According to the documents, Meta is now lowering the target of hitting 500,000 monthly active users on Horizon Worlds to 280,000.
Recently, there were reports that Horizon Worlds was struggling to gain traction, even among the Meta employees working on the VR social universe, and that Meta had charged department heads with the responsibility of increasing participation among their staff.
Now documents reportedly obtained by Wall Street Journal show the platform is struggling with gaining and keeping users. The documents show that Horizon Worlds has about 200,000 monthly active users, down from the 300,000 monthly active users that the platform hit in February this year.
Users on Horizon Worlds can create virtual spaces where they can play games, hang out, meet others or chat with their friends. Following its rollout to all users, the Quest user base in Canada and the US increased tenfold. This was partly due to the widely publicized success of the Meta Quest 2 headset which has so far shipped over 15 million units according to some estimates.
After being bullish about the trajectory of Horizon Worlds, Meta is now revising user targets. Instead of 500,000 monthly active users on Horizon Worlds, Meta is now aiming for 280,000 monthly active users. Meta says Horizon Worlds had about 10,000 separate worlds by February of this year. According to WSJ, just 9% of these worlds are getting at least 50 user visits and the majority of these users do not come back after a month of using the social universe.
A report appeared early this month stating that the Meta Horizons team is grappling with various quality issues that are keeping even the team behind it from using the platform. The report details a memo from Meta’s VP of metaverse, Vishal Shah, which says that the team will go on a “quality lockdown” that will continue until the end of this year and where the rollout of new features will be stalled in order to address the bugginess on the platform. Following the memo, the company also rolled out a new tool that allows users to easily report bugs from the Horizon Worlds app. In a blog post, the company also admitted that the platform was unstable during a recent competition that was held in the VR social universe.
Zuckerberg has bet big on virtual reality and the metaverse and is the lead evangelist for this new tech frontier. In spite of this, he has faced pushback from investor skeptical about his aggressive metaverse play. Facebook’s main cash cow, advertising revenues from social media portals, is also facing pressure due to the economic global slowdown and spending cuts. Pushback from investors forced Meta to implement a hiring freeze for the rest of 2022.
However, there is a silver lining in the company’s metaverse ambitions. Sales for its Quest headset are growing rapidly and the company has several hardware projects lined up for the next two years. According to some estimates, more than 15 million Quest headsets have been sold so far.
Meta says its metaverse plans will be a multiyear effort where it will continually make improvements.
At Meta’s Connect event last week, the company announced its $1,599 Quest Pro VR headset that targets companies looking to work andf collaborate in virtual reality.
During the event, Zuckerberg also announced that Meta will be introducing legs to its Horizon Worlds avatars. A presentation at the event provided a glimpse of what these avatars with legs might look like. However, the demo of avatars with legs did not occur in virtual reality and was only used for demonstration purposes.