Meta’s social VR app for Quest, Horizon Worlds, is lagging behind the competition when it comes to attracting and retaining VR users. According to a leaked memo obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the company is now ostensibly looking to boost numbers by more transparently appealing to younger teens in addition to funding a slew of new second-party content.

WSJ only posted snippets of the memo, entitled ‘Horizon 2023 Goals and Strategy’, which was allegedly written by Meta Vice President of Horizon Gabriel Aul. The memo is said to outline the team’s objectives for the first half of 2023.

Here’s some highlights we formatted into a bulleted list, which also includes additional info supplied by a source cited by WSJ:

  • Competitors are outperforming HW. Improving user retention is most important, especially among teens and young adults
  • HW to open to teens aged 13 to 17, which could come as early as March
  • Meta is working with outside studios to build new worlds and experiences for HW
  • The team is aiming to launch at least 20 new Horizon-hosted experiences built by second-party studios. Of the 20, it’s hoping for five medium hits and at least one a major hit
  • The flatscreen version of Horizon for mobile and desktops is set to come sometime in H1 2023

Additionally, WSJ reports the memo outlined some key performance metrics, claiming Horizon Worlds’ weekly retention rate was 11% in January, which the company aims to increase to 20%. The goal for monthly active users for the first half of 2023 is said to be 500,000, with hopes of reaching one million for the full year. Currently the platform is at 200,000, or just below the December peak, the reported memo outlines.

The previously reported flatscreen version, which is said to launch by the end of the first half of 2023, is hoping to achieve 150,000 monthly cross-screen Horizon users.

Meta’s Quest 2 headset is technically only available to users aged 13 and up. Horizon Worlds on the other hand has been limited to users 18+ since it was launched in 2021, and only to those in US, Canada, UK, France, Iceland, Ireland and Spain.

While none of this seems to have hindered children below 13 from playing all the Quest 2 has to offer, Horizon Worlds included. More transparently appealing to young teens though will likely come with a host of safety requirements that the company needs to fulfil for liability reasons.

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Meta issued a response to WSJ, supporting in part its move to focus on teens:

“Teens are already spending time in a variety of VR experiences on Quest,” Meta spokesman Joe Osborne told WSJ, “and we want to ensure that we can provide them with a great experience in Horizon Worlds as well, with age-appropriate tools and protections in place.”

This comes hot on the heels of Meta reducing its workforce by 13% late last year, one of the biggest tech layoffs in recent memory, which saw 11,000 jobs cut from payroll.

Meanwhile, the company’s Reality Labs XR division has dramatically increased its operating budget in an ostensible bid to maintain market dominance over similar metaverse pushes from the likes of Apple, Google, etc. At the same time, Meta has slashed some XR projects, including first-party title Echo VR.

Provided the report is true, it appears Meta is making another important step towards competing more directly with cross-platform social gaming titans like Roblox and Rec Room. 

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 4,000 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Martin Kraus

    Here is a fun way of interpreting those goals for Horizon Worlds: the purpose might be to justify shutting down Horizon Worlds later this year or next year when those goals are clearly missed.

  • I’ve been kind of worrying about a similar thing. I wonder if any of those studios were tasked with building experiences exclusively for HW. Like imagine of RAD announced they’re bringing back Echo VR as a world in HW. ><

  • sfmike

    Maybe if they marketed to other groups than just women they might be more successful. Also, like FB, one has to be so careful not to upset some Karen and being banned to the point that that has become the actual game of being in this sad space. Look at the avatars whose main design allows you be as doughy and overweight as you want but there is no way to actually have an identifiable male physique. I feel body shamed for being a man there.

  • ViRGiN

    Renewed retention?

    That reminded me of something. We didn’t even get steam hardware fake-survey. PCVR is so dead they can’t sustain those fake numbers anymore.

    • LMAO

      Troll Alert!

      • ViRGiN

        Alarm! Alarm! Call in the praydog boys! Let’s show him how much better pcvr is than anything quest! Who needs 6dof when you can game on mouse and keyboard in vr!

        • LMAO

          The situation is even worse; it is not Troll Alert!

          It is Ignorant Troll Alert!

          • Jonathan Winters III

            he’s still a virgin for a reason. Social outcast and major keyboard warrior – ugh.

  • Cheddar Bob

    “…only to those in US, Canada, UK, France, Iceland, Ireland and Spain…” – what a joke.

  • NL_VR

    Horizon worlds is so bad.

  • ViRGiN

    Even zoom fired people yesterday.

    What’s your job? How did you get that Walmart lifetime position?

  • Ad

    Seems odd to not mention facebook’s own internal research showing that their company is a harm to kids to the point that they actively shut down reforms their researchers said would reduce self harm in teenagers. Almost like no one in this industry cares about anything but more heads in headsets.

  • ApocalypseShadow

    Horizon worlds is a joke because it’s not game related based on game worlds of VR games. Which would have gained a lot of gamers that they could expand into other areas for casuals like shopping, education, etc.

    PlayStation Home had millions using it. About 40 million accounts created before they discontinued it. And all the spaces were game related. Sony could have continued it as they were making money from it. Even if it stayed beta the whole time. If Sony brought it back, it would definitely show what Facebook is doing wrong.

    As Carmack said, Facebook has no focus. They don’t know exactly what to do. If Nintendo did VR and created worlds gamers could visit, we know it would be based on hot properties like Metroid, Zelda, Mario, etc. But Facebook doesn’t have a lot of franchises either. So, they have another problem.

  • Jonathan Winters III

    Duh! They make Horizon look appealing mainly to kids, and so adults are not often enticed to visit the app due to the childish look, and the masses of screaming kids.

    Now, Meta is surprised about that and are playing catch-up trying to get kids involved more, meanwhile missing out on their original goal of adults (ie their headset and software buyers) populating Horizon.

    I’m just another dum-dum, but somehow I feel the Meta execs in charge of this are hella dumb.

  • BananaBreadBoy

    VRchat/RecRoom/Gorilla Tag/Pavlov/every other multiplayer VR game swamped with kids: “Look what they need to mimic a fraction of our power.”

  • Tommy

    Well, I guess that’s that then.

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  • Arno van Wingerde

    Well Bill had a talking paperclip and Melinda had Bob … just saying things can always get worse…