Meta’s VR Horizon Worlds struggles to retain users

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Meta’s flagship metaverse project, Horizon Worlds, has been struggling to attract and retain users, resulting in Meta shares dropping by 62 percent this year. According to the report, most users did not return to Horizon after spending the first month on the platform.

Meta said Horizon had around 10,000 separate virtual worlds as of February. However, reports revealed that only 9 percent of those worlds had seen more than 50 users, while the rest had never recorded even one visitor.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a year after Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his metaverse project, Horizon Worlds began dealing with glitches, a lack of interest in users and uncertainty about what was needed for the metaverse to succeed. Meta vice president Vishal Shah said that Horizon Worlds had several quality issues, and even the employees of the company were barely using it.

“Since launching late last year, we have seen that the core thesis of Horizon Worlds — a synchronous social network where creators can build engaging worlds — is strong,” Shah wrote in a memo last month.

“But currently feedback from our creators, users, playtesters, and many of us on the team is that the aggregate weight of papercuts, stability issues, and bugs is making it too hard for our community to experience the magic of Horizon. Simply put, for an experience to become delightful and retentive, it must first be usable and well crafted.”

Horizon Worlds initially set a goal of reaching 500,000 monthly active users by the end of the year before revising it to 280,000 as of late. Currently, it has less than 200,000 monthly active users, trailing behind its competitors, VR Chat and Second Life, which focus on the social aspect of virtual reality.

Meta to improve users’ experience

Shah said that despite Meta’s difficulties in attracting users, the company would continue making improvements to Horizon Worlds. Meta reportedly will release a web version of Horizon Worlds for mobile devices and PCs this year. Its launch date has yet to be confirmed.

“Today, we are not operating with enough flexibility,” he said. “I want to be clear on this point. We are working on a product that has not found a product market fit. If you are on Horizon, I need you to fully embrace ambiguity and change.”

However, The Wall Street Journal also revealed that Meta had delayed metaverse-related projects due to the escalating internal disagreement regarding utility preferences for Horizon Worlds.

At Meta’s Connect conference on Tuesday, Zuckerberg announced the company’s newest virtual reality headset, the Meta Quest Pro, which costs $1,500 and will be available starting October 25.

The Quest Pro is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Plus Gen 1 chip, allowing the device to produce advanced graphics. It also has improved touch controllers with embedded sensors to allow for better hand tracking.

Partnership with Microsoft

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made an appearance at the conference to discuss the company’s partnership with Meta. He confirmed that Microsoft 365 apps would be available on Meta Quest, allowing users to access productivity apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and SharePoint via VR.

“You [will] have a new way to securely stream the entire Windows experience, including all the personalized app content settings to your VR device with the full power [of Windows,]” Nadella said.

“We’ve been thinking about how to bring the power of Microsoft 365 and Windows 365 to 3D spaces to really help drive productivity and enable you to create, communicate and collaborate in completely new ways.”

Microsoft and Meta are also looking for ways to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to Meta Quest Store to enable users to stream high-quality Xbox games.

“You will be able to play 2D games with your Xbox controller projected on a massive screen on Quest,” Nadella said. “It’s early days, but we’re excited for what’s to come.”