Meta Releases Horizon Worlds Amidst VR Push

Image credit: Meta

Meta’s social world-building flagship game Horizon Worlds comes out of invite-only beta as company formerly known as Facebook pushes into virtual reality

Meta Platforms, formerly named Facebook, has brought its Horizon Worlds VR app out of invitation-only beta test mode, making it accessible to all users over 18 in the US or Canada.

The launch is Meta’s first since it changed its name from Facebook in October, as part of a renewed focus on developing “metaverse” VR products.

Horizon Worlds, formerly Facebook Horizon, was announced in 2019 as Meta’s flagship social VR app, and focuses on encouraging users to build their own games and experiences on the platform, similar to Roblox and other creator-oriented platforms.

Meta also offers its own Horizon Worlds games, but in October announced $10 million (£7.6m) in funding that creators can receive by winning competitions.

Image credit: Meta
Image credit: Meta

Social worlds

The platform currently offers no way for creators to directly make money from their games, unlike Roblox, where creators can sell their games for in-app currency.

Meta said it is seeking to offer “best-in-class social world-building tools”.

“We’ve spent the past year developing those tools and improving them based on creator feedback,” the company said in a statement.

Besides playing games, Horizon Worlds allows users to attend events or “hang out”.

The app is free to users of Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 headset. The company said the app will stop supporting the Oculus Quest 1 on 13 January.

After entering the game’s universe, users create a legless, floating avatar that they can use to interact with others within various “worlds”.

They can also create their own worlds, placing items within them and creating “scripts” to define how the game works.

VR Chat

The concept is similar to existing VR apps such as Rec Room or VR Chat, where users create avatars and social environments.

Meta said “thousands” of worlds have already been built on the platform during the test period.

These include shooting games, a magic flying broomstick wrold, and, one of the more popular, a game called “Mark’s Riverboat” that lets users simply ride along on a triple-decker boat.

Meta has come under fire over the safety of its offerings, with Instagram head Adam Mosseri testifying before the US Congress last week about the issue.

The company said it has included safety features in Horizon Worlds, such as invite-only worlds and blocking and reporting features.

The primary menu, which users access by looking at their left wrist, includes a safety button that takes the user to a “Safe Zone”, a private room where they can block, mute and report people.