Horizon Worlds leak: only 1 in 10 users return & web launch is coming
Horizon Worlds is struggling to retain users, but Meta plans to improve avatars and expand Horizon to phones, tablets, and computers in an attempt to boost numbers.
Alex Heath shared more details from an internal Meta meeting in an ongoing series of leaks. This week's Command Line newsletter centered around Horizon Worlds and Meta's avatars.
According to Heath's source, Horizon Worlds is failing to retain users, with only one in ten returning to this virtual social space after a month. Meta is supposedly aiming for a 20 percent improvement in retention this year. We reached out to Meta but haven't received any comment on the leaks.
Meta has taken several steps recently to increase interest in its Horizon social VR platforms, expanding finally to Europe, but more is needed to keep people coming back.
The goal is to move more people from traditional, flat social media into VR and 3D representations in preparation for the metaverse. Better avatars may be the key to making this happen.
Horizon might come to the web soon
Meta always planned to allow Horizon Worlds to be accessed from a computer, tablet, and phone, as well as an immersive view within a Quest VR headset. Horizon Workrooms has this ability now, allowing webcam users to participate in a VR meeting on a virtual flat-screen within the 3D environment.
According to the latest leak from Meta's internal meeting, this ability could come to Horizon Worlds soon. When this happens, the report shared that Meta expects 90% of Horizon users will come from the web rather than VR.
At that time, Horizon could be intriguing enough to bring new users, but it might become disastrous if VR users are not well received by the majority of people that interact via the web.
Will improved Horizon avatars help?
Meta is doing intensive research on avatars and has demonstrated realistic human faces with its Codec Avatars. Unfortunately, Horizon avatars remain simplistic and still lack legs.
That might change in 2023. According to Heath's report, Meta hopes to increase the number of people using Meta avatars to 75 million across Facebook, Instagram, and VR. While the selfie photo will never go away entirely, many people choose stylized profile images, so there's room for Meta to gain more avatar users.
Improving Meta avatars will be an essential step, and legs might help. Meta's Horizon VP Vishal Shah was quoted as saying, "I promise you this product, legs, will be very exciting, and we will get made fun of for it at the same time."
We've been hearing about legs for quite some time, and Meta demonstrated full-body tracking with a Quest 2 in September of last year. Perhaps in 2023, Horizon will finally have a leg to stand on.
Horizon's recent improvements aren't enough
Meta Venues moved to Horizon Worlds in June 2022, hosting live concerts in VR. Free concerts are a great idea, but after the show, everyone leaves.
It isn't that Meta hasn't tried to improve Horizon Worlds. Despite these efforts, this virtual space hasn't really captured people's imagination for gaming or seemed compelling enough as a social venue. If you compare playing an intense action game, solving a puzzling mystery, or hanging out with friends in a casual game of golf, Horizon Worlds feels a bit lifeless.
Horizon needs to be a much richer environment that offers fun and exciting content that can't be found elsewhere. That is difficult to create in an open, world-building app that began as a social space without game mechanics. Gaming is possible in Horizon Worlds but it isn't competitive with true game-focused apps.