Horizon Worlds Metaverse Game: VR Social Platform

After over two years and a corporate rebrand, Meta is finally releasing Horizon Worlds, a VR social network. Starting Thursday, anybody aged 18 and up in the United States and Canada can download the free Quest app without an invite.

Horizon Worlds is Meta’s first attempt to release anything similar to CEO Mark Zuckerberg‘s concept of the metaverse. It’s a large, multiplayer platform that combines Roblox and Ready Player One’s OASIS VR reality. It takes a Facebook account and allows you to hang out with up to 20 people in a virtual location simultaneously.

“WE CAN NOW OPEN UP AND SAY WE HAVE INTERESTING THINGS PEOPLE CAN DO”

Horizon Worlds, first introduced in September 2019 as a private beta, has moved from primarily being a Minecraft-like environment for building games to more of a social network. Its thousands of beta testers have staged comedy shows, movie nights, and monthly meditation sessions. They’ve also created elaborate things, such as a Ghostbusters Ecto-1 replica. “Now we can open up and say we have exciting things that people can do,” says Vivek Sharma, Meta’s Vice President of Horizon.

Gameplay

The game is playable with an Oculus Rift S or Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset. It employs full 3D motion via the headset’s motion capture system and two hand-held motion controllers, which are necessary to interact with the game items.

Within the limitations of their actual floor space, players can explore the area around them while wandering further by utilizing controller buttons to teleport a short distance or to move constantly across the virtual space.

horizon worlds metaverse game

The hub world (also known as the “plaza”) has portals to feature user-generated worlds created by gamers utilizing an integrated game development system.

Development

Horizon Worlds (previously known as Facebook Horizon) was developed after Facebook’s previous social VR apps (Oculus Rooms, Oculus Venues, and Facebook Spaces) and focused more on user-generated content than these earlier apps. At the Oculus Connect 6 conference in September 2019, Facebook launched Facebook Horizon as a new social virtual environment.

Facebook stated in August 2020 that additional people would be granted access to an invite-only test phase. In a January 2021 interview with Scott Stein, Facebook Reality Labs head Andrew Bosworth admitted that the experiences in Facebook Horizon are not yet ready for the public and expressed concern that “if you don’t have… something driving a lot of people to the place, then you run the risk they won’t get it.”

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Horizon Workrooms, a collaboration program aimed at teams managing remote-work settings, was introduced in open beta by Facebook in August 2021. For up to 50 individuals, the software provides virtual meeting rooms, whiteboards, and video call integration.

On October 7, 2021, Facebook renamed Facebook Horizon to Horizon Worlds.

horizon worlds metaverse game

After an invite-only beta period, the game was launched to people aged 18 and above in the United States and Canada on December 9, 2021.

On November 26, 2021, a beta user reported being groped on Horizon Worlds, and additional users agreed.

Meta answered that users could utilize a “Safe Zone” tool to protect themselves from interactions with others. In December 2021, a female user claimed she was practically gang-rap*d by 3 to 4 male members after joining the network.

In response to the incidents, Meta added a mandatory “personal boundary” to Horizon Worlds and Venues in February 2022, which creates an invisible virtual barrier around avatars preventing users from coming within four feet of an avatar if enabled, building on top of an existing feature that makes users’ hands disappear if they get too close to another avatar.

It was also announced that customers would be able to modify the size of this border in the future. The boundary function is comparable to basic capabilities in competitor platforms VRChat and Rec Room, but with the addition of the ability to disable and adjust the size of the barrier.

When Can You Use Meta Horizon Worlds?

Meta Horizon Worlds was in beta for about a year and a half before being publicly released in the United States and Canada in December 2021. Users must be at least 18 years old to access it.

horizon worlds metaverse game

The Menlo Park-based company has also introduced a new set of mechanics and templates to get started, and the platform will only be available on the Meta Quest 2 headset.

In addition, the business established a USD 10 million Creator Fund to assist designers and developers working on projects in Meta Horizon Worlds. It provided Horizon Worlds with its code of conduct and safety regulations.

Meta has also built features such as one-click access to personal Safe Zones and other features to improve privacy and safety for Metaverse users. The US tech giant will continue to upgrade its features and policies over time to provide users and creators with compelling experiences.

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