Mark Zuckerberg bet big on the Metaverse, changing Facebook’s name and ploughing $10 billion into what he considers the future. The project has so far been a catastrophic failure, costing Meta 70% of its stock price. 13% of its workforce has been laid off as a cost-cutting measure.
No target audience
Everybody knows what Facebook does. It allows people to link up with friends, share photos and chat. Why is Meta's metaverse, Horizon Worlds, any different? Apart from vague promises like “meet up with friends” and “attend cool events,” Meta's 'verse doesn’t appear to offer a unique or special experience. Your average Web2 users have no idea what to make of it. Those who might "get it," aka Web3 early adopters, shun Meta because of its centralized nature.
The most successful virtual worlds reward creativity, allowing people to reinvent themselves in the Metaverse. Horizon Worlds does the opposite. A recent report labelled its worlds “sad” and “empty,” and avatars emerge as exact replicas of their real life equivalents. Meta also insists on pushing its Metaverse as a virtual office/boardroom, which is hardly the most inspiring use case!
Based on miscalculations
In a statement to sacked employees, Zuckerberg admits that he was influenced by how “the world rapidly moved online” during the pandemic and expected this to continue even after Covid. Instead, people largely returned to their previous lives.
Horizon’s distinctly lo-fi avatars and insipid landscapes are reminiscent of a low budget Switch game. Notwithstanding a bizarre debate about legs, this has never been fixed and probably won’t be. Improving the graphics would mean lag and dropouts, limiting functionality. The result is an oddly alienating drearscape that most people want to leave as quickly as possible.
Expensive entry point
VR headsets cost a lot (the Meta Quest Pro is £1,499) and are an expense that few are willing to make in the midst of an economic downturn. Horizon can only be accessed via headset, unlike, say, Axie Infinity, Decentraland or Roblox. Incidentally, reports suggest that over half of all purchased headsets are abandoned after the first six months.
The Metaverse doesn’t need Meta
Everything that Horizon promises exists elsewhere. Meta is more of a middleman offering nothing original while trying to profit from pre-existing ideas. Throw in claims of sexual harassment, and Meta’s generally tainted brand, and Horizon’s failure isn’t that surprising.