Horizon, Facebook’s social VR space built around user-generated content, was announced more than two years ago, but the company still isn’t quite ready to send it out the door. Instead, Facebook this week announced it is rebranding the project as Horizon Worlds, while also announcing a $10 million fund to support creators building content within.
When we tried out Facebook Horizon back in August of 2020, we found that it was aiming for a sweet spot between social VR apps Rec Room and VRChat, including some seriously impressive in-game building and scripting tools that make it possible to build worlds, experiences, and mini-games for anyone to enjoy. Since then, Facebook says it has upgraded its building tools and decided to rebrand the entire project to be called Horizon Worlds, which serves to distance ‘Facebook’ from the core name while also fitting better with the recently introduced Horizon Workrooms.
This week the company also announced a $10 million fund which is says will be used to support creators building content inside of Horizon Worlds. It isn’t clear exactly how Facebook plans to distribute the funds, or over what time scale, but it gave three examples of how creators can benefit.
Community Competitions: Later this year, we’ll launch a series of creator competitions to reward people building the very best worlds in Horizon and who are taking advantage of the tools we offer. We’ll offer up to $10K in cash prizes for the first-, second-, and third-place winners, and we’ll share more details on these competitions soon. You can sign up here to be notified when we launch our first competition.
Accelerator Program: We’ll also continue with our Creator Accelerator Program, an application-based initiative designed to give people from diverse backgrounds an advanced crash course in Horizon Worlds creation. The Creator Accelerator Program also gives people a unique opportunity to attain the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in a professional environment, including a session we held that focused on building more inclusive worlds. We just wrapped up the pilot class of this program, and we’ll begin accepting applications next month for an expanded Creator Accelerator Program set to kick off in early 2022.
Funding For Developers: Last but not least, our product teams have been working closely with a handful of external developers to explore the range of possibilities for content in Horizon Worlds. Earlier this year, we worked with developers on the theme of cooperative mini-games that are easy to learn and hard to master for two to four players. If you’re a developer, studio, or creator and you’re interested in partnering with us for funded opportunities to create experiences for Horizon in a particular theme, you can sign-up to learn more about the next set of themes here.
Ostensibly the company is hoping to attract the kind of creators that are essential to the traction of other social virtual worlds like Roblox, Rec Room, and VRChat.
To support those creators, Facebook says it has built “best-in-class” in-game building tools, with recent upgrades offering even more flexibility for individuals or teams of creators to build experiences inside Horizon Worlds.
We redesigned our creation tools UI and interactions to make the most common creator workflows more efficient and intuitive. Through new textures and improved object snapping, artists and designers are now able to bring complex environments and characters to life with greater ease. Our scripting updates have unlocked a wide variety of new VR mechanics and gameplay that scripters and programmers can use to bring their ideas to life—whether it’s using custom locally-scripted physics to craft a paper airplane or building a competitive team-based game with persistent XP progression, the only limit is your imagination.
We’re working to bring even more tools and features to the community soon, like a new feature for projectile launching mechanics and global leaderboards. We’re also building full game experiences to share with creators as templates so that they won’t need to start from scratch when making a new world.
With these new tools and monetary incentives, Facebook hopes to attract users who will populate Horizon Worlds with content that will bring other users to the platform. A newly published video shows some of the things that creators have been building in Horizon:
Horizon was initially announced just over two years ago but has quietly remained in a closed beta over the last year with no firm roadmap for a full launch. The announcement of a $10 million fund to attract creators to the platform seems to be an acknowledgement that there isn’t yet enough to do inside to appeal to a broader userbase, and we may not see Horizon open to the public until the company feels like it has built up enough content to keep people coming back. However, it better be not wait too long; after all, it also risks losing the attention of creators if there isn’t a real userbase ready and willing to explore their content.