Mark Zuckerberg receives criticism over Horizon Worlds’ ‘primitive’ graphics

Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg hit major news headlines this week after the launch of Meta’s new virtual reality game, Horizon Worlds, in France and Spain last Tuesday featured graphics that many found “primitive”-looking.

The media magnate posted a screenshot of his in-game avatar posing right in front of the virtual Eiffel Tower and La Sagrada Familia last week — and it did not take long for users to mock the $10 billion social gaming venture.

Zuckerberg has responded to the criticisms and promised to provide major updates on the game’s graphics via a post last Friday. He also shared a more eye-pleasing avatar of him in Horizon Worlds.

“Major updates to Horizon and avatar graphics coming soon. I’ll share more at Connect. Also, I know the photo I posted earlier this week was pretty basic — it was taken very quickly to celebrate a launch. The graphics in Horizon are capable of much more — even on headsets — and Horizon is improving very quickly,” Zuckerberg wrote on Instagram.

More on Meta’s Horizon Worlds

Horizon Worlds was part of Meta’s initiative to tap into the new upcoming frontier of the digital world, the metaverse. Last year, following the renaming of Facebook (the company) to Meta, there was a growing necessity to enter the yet-to-mature virtual world of the internet. Zuckerberg said the newly branded company could be seen “as a metaverse company”.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about our identity,” the CEO said at a virtual event last year. “Over time, I hope we’re seen as a metaverse company.”

The same year, Meta allocated $10 billion to the new VR social gaming venture. Development has been likely in full swing since then. However, it did not go as planned, as many would find the metaverse’s graphics unpleasing.

New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose compared Horizon Worlds’ graphics to an old Wii game year back, calling it “worse than a 2008 Wii game”. Similarly, Forbes’ Dani Di Placido mocked the internet mogul’s in-game “baby-faced” avatar.

Meta was initially launched in the United States and Canada last December. The launch was followed by various user conduct and safety concerns. Regardless, the game managed to gain positive traction a few months after the launch, hitting 300,000 users earlier this year in February, or about 10 times increase since launch, Alex Heath of The Verge reported.

Horizon Worlds’ limitations

According to Slate’s Nitish Pahwa, graphics limitations on Horizon Worlds are likely due to the processing power of VR gear used for the game. In other words, Meta’s Horizon Worlds is unable to or is not powerful enough to render complex graphics.

Via Slate, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, Diami Virgilio, said Horizon Worlds is unlikely to be the last from Meta. Instead, it is the first — and could be one that is strategic.

“It seems to be mostly a social sandbox to learn about what users are most interested in for the sake of future profits,” Virgilio wrote. “The primary value of Horizon Worlds is developing a cadre of builders and influencers who will evangelize the metaverse vision to others and create experiences that Meta can use in its promotional materials … a free laboratory for the company to learn what kind of digital objects users want and are willing to pay for.”