Though Meta is steadily building up three social VR apps—Horizon Worlds, Horizon Venues, and Horizon Workrooms—the trio still exist as separate apps and hardly constitute a seamless experience. In the future the company hopes to change that and open the door to non-VR devices. But how long will it take?

Meta is undoubtedly bullish about taking a leading position in the metaverse, but it still has a very long way to go before anything that it’s working on could even really be considered part of the metaverse.

Today the company runs three separate social VR apps under the Horizon name. There’s Worlds, a place where people can build experiences for others to enjoy; Venues, where people can watch concerts, sports, and more together; and Workrooms where people can collaborate with traditional meeting tools.

Although all three share a common umbrella name, and even share the same avatars, they’re really entirely different applications. You might be sitting right next to your colleague in Workrooms and invite them to watch a show with you in Venues after the meeting, but there’s no seamless way for both of you to actually go from A to B without quitting your current app, launching a new one, and then eventually find each other on the other side. Not to mention dealing with an entirely different interface and features between the two.

In an interview with Digiday, Meta’s VP of Horizon, Vivek Sharma, hinted that the company hopes to eventually bring these experiences together in a more seamless way.

“Eventually, Sharma plans to stitch [the three Horizon applications] together to create a cohesive virtual world,” writes Alexander Lee. “Though he didn’t offer specifics about the timeline for this union or what the overarching platform would be called.”

“You can imagine us building out an entire ecosystem where creators can earn a living, where communities can form and do interesting stuff together,” Sharma told Digiday. “So it’s not just a place for games; it’s not just a place for people to build creative stuff; it’s all of the above.”

At present, Horizon is scattered in more ways than not being able to navigate seamlessly between apps. Accessibility is also an issue… you’ll need an Oculus Quest 2 headset if you want to be able to access all three. If you have the original Oculus Quest you can only use Worlds and Venues. If you have an Oculus Rift you can only use Worlds. And if you have a non-Oculus headset well, you’re out of luck.

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To some extent, the company hopes to fix, or at least temper, this issue by opening Horizon apps to non-VR devices, Sharma told Digiday. Exactly when this might happen, or which devices it would target is unclear at present.

High accessibility is important for any social applications to find traction, something that Meta ought to know better than anyone else. And yet when Meta does finally get around to making its Horizon apps more accessible, it will only be playing catch-up.

Leading social VR applications like Rec Room and VRChat have long since supported VR and PC, with Rec Room even being available on game consoles and smartphones. Not to mention that both of the aforementioned apps are available on a much wider range of VR headsets than any of Meta’s Horizon offerings.

For all of Meta’s resources and significant spending in this space, the gears have been turning slowly. The company will need to start moving quickly if it doesn’t want to risk losing out to more agile players, especially considering that its MO of buying access to disruptive markets might not be as viable as it once was now that the FTC is increasingly scrutinizing its acquisitions.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • xyzs

    Facebook was a very lucky success…
    All post Facebook successes are from bought companies.
    Seeing how hard it is for them to create a new success from scratch, even when they have near unlimited money and staff, puts the talent of Zuck in perspective and I hope this teaches him humility.

    • philingreat

      The Quest 2 is by far the most successful headset ever made thanks to facebook

    • Corellianrogue

      I don’t think it was a lucky success, I think there was a lot of help in the background. I think News Corp (on the orders of “the establishment”) deliberately bought MySpace to ruin it and send all it’s users to Facebook. MySpace was beating the hell out of Facebook at the time (something like about 100 million more users) and rightly so as it was 10 times better, even compared to current Facebook. Then when News Corp bought it they nerfed it by removing all the best features and turning it into a poor Facebook clone at which point most people jumped ship almost overnight to other sites but mostly Facebook. (Then eventually just turned it into basically a music pages site and sold it.)

    • Lucidfeuer

      It was a lucky success from people with zero talents, who destroyed more value than they created.

  • Till Eulenspiegel

    Why did Meta cancelled the development of their XROS? Now they are continuing using Android for their future headsets. Is it the threat from Apple’s rOS? Or they can’t launch it in time to compete with Apple?

  • Till Eulenspiegel

    Why did Meta cancelled the development of their XROS? Now they are continuing using Android for their future headsets. Is it the threat from Apple’s rOS? Or they can’t launch it in time to compete with Apple?

    It’s funny that Steve Jobs told John Carmack to write his own OS, I guess John finally realized how difficult it is.

    • Nothing to see here

      Writing an OS is hard. I mean HARD. As in a super duper hard computer science problem. Most attempts fail.

    • MeowMix

      it seems they didn’t; META released a statement that strongly pushed back on that assertion. They said XROS has not been cancelled, halted, nor scaled back. It seems the original reporter who ran the story now has egg on their face.

  • kontis

    There is 0% chance they haven’t discussed acquiring VRChat, but it’s quite immune to acquisitions thanks to its economically inconvenient audience full of furies, weebs, LGBT and all the kinds of people struggling with real life these corporations don’t want anything to do with (marketing department BS-ing doesn’t count).

    But the problem is investors pumped something like $100M into VRChat, which means they expect a $ billion+ ROI. They literally have too much money to continue being what they are. To easily get billions from VRchat you need either someone like Zuck to buy you or some good monetization strategy. Both sound difficult considering how open (millions of stolen assets) and “degenerate” VRChat currently is, so… how long will it last?

    • PK

      they were planning to roll out their creator economy before the end of last year, but like everything they build it’s complicated, still i expect it to be coming relatively soon. it’ll start off something like patreon, from what i understand, and that could generate a lot of income for users and the platform. there’s a lot of money to be made for and by this community, here’s hoping vrchat can resist massive offers to sell out though.

    • PK

      for years i’ve found it more likely they buy rec room, much more up their alley although it’s getting expensive. and they still have misguided hopes of creating something similar themselves, which we both know will fail. every social vr platform attempt by them so far has.

    • Lucidfeuer

      Facebook doesn’t buy things anymore, they just copy it.

  • Nothing to see here

    Does anyone else have the feeling that they are betting their entire company on some apps that few people are interested in actually using? Quite frankly, Dreams on PSVR is a better community of VR creators than Horizon Worlds. Horizon’s VR creation tools are very hard to use from my own experience, especially the scripting tools. The worlds people have created are super basic thus far. Dreams are a lot better but nothing I have seen would be worth betting a trillion dollar market cap company on.

    • sfmike

      I so agree. Dreams gives one the ability to create really beautiful worlds instead of the mere basic that Horizon is so proud of.

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    • Lucidfeuer

      They’re not since (and R2VR didn’t report on that) they just closed a 500 people team that was dedicated to the production of AR/VR softwares…

      Oculus is just a PR and stock speculation front for Facebook.

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