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Meta is rebooting Horizon Worlds as the VR platform struggles to grow

Meta Quest 3 VR headset.

Meta


Meta is overhauling its Horizon Worlds virtual reality app to include more video games as the social platform struggles to find a big audience.

Horizon Worlds is the company’s free virtual reality social network where people can create avatars and interact with other players.

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In an effort to make Horizon Worlds more compelling, Meta now has an in-house studio dubbed Ouro Interactive that’s focused on making first-party virtual reality games, Meta’s Vice President of Metaverse Vishal Shah said in an interview published Friday with the Lowpass technology newsletter.

The studio’s first VR game, a shooter called Super Rumble, debuted Friday and reportedly contains better graphics and fidelity than other VR games built on top of Horizon Worlds. The video game will also be one of the first VR video games Meta plans to test when it eventually debuts a mobile version of Horizon Worlds, Shah said.

“This is definitely more than just a new world,” Shah said, referring to it as “the next generation of Horizon Worlds.”

Expect more video games to debut as Meta builds the new Horizon Worlds, Shah said, explaining that Meta has also revamped the VR platform’s infrastructure to support higher-quality and more complex games and provide more tools for third-party developers.

“As consumers come to Horizon, we want to make sure there’s a bunch of compelling content that they can find on day one,” Shah told the newsletter. “We’re going to seed the ecosystem, bootstrap it with stuff that we build both in-house, but also with some studios that we’re working with.”

Shah said that when Meta releases a mobile version of Horizon Worlds, he plans for the app to act as the bridge between smartphones and the company’s Quest VR headsets.

“We’re going from a world where we are VR only to a place where we’re going to be VR first,” Shah said.

The revamping of Horizon Worlds comes amid Meta’s latest earnings report, which showed the company’s Reality Labs units recorded a $3.7 billion operating loss while generating $276 million in revenue. Since the beginning of 2022, the Reality Labs unit has lost over $21 billion, underscoring the massive investment required to develop the VR and augmented reality technologies needed to build a compelling metaverse.

Meta’s Horizon Worlds represents the company’s Roblox-like digital playground intended to attract users who wish to play games and interact with others like a 3D social network. But it hasn’t become the mainstream hit with the service reportedly attracting less than 200,000 monthly active users, underscoring the public’s current general lack of enthusiasm for VR.

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