- Meta’s Reality Labs vision, the company’s virtual technology and initiatives, lost US$21.5 billion in the last eighteen months, cumulating to US$34 billion.
- Only 9 per cent of the 10,000 separate worlds in Horizon Worlds have more than fifty visitors.
- Despite the poor performance record, Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg says he remains fully committed to Artificial Intelligence and the metaverse.
- “Meta is despicably attempting to lure young teens to Horizon Worlds in an attempt to boost its failing platform,”
In the last three years, the digital landscape has not been flowery for Meta’s VR ecosystem. Investors are crying foul after Meta’s Reality Labs vision, the company’s virtual technology and initiatives, lost US$21.5 billion in the last eighteen months, cumulating to US$34 billion.
According to Fortune Magazine, Meta reported that its Reality Labs Unit lost US$3.7 billion in the 2023 second-quarter earnings report.
Despite the poor performance record, Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg says he remains fully committed to Artificial Intelligence and the metaverse. Additionally, he adds that he is not worried about the low engagements that Horizons Worlds has attracted, which has become nearly flat.
Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth increases
Notwithstanding, Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune has increased in the last three years, surging from 16th in the 2020 Forbes Billionaires list to 9th in 2023. His performance has increased due to a strong performance from Meta Platforms Inc. in the second quarter of the year. Menlo Park shares, California- based Meta, rose by 9 per cent in New York, before closing up 4.4 per cent.
Zuckerberg’s net worth has increased by US$67.7 billion this year to US$113.3 billion. This marks the second largest increase in the billionaires’ list index, only behind Elon Musk. In justification, Meta’s social media products (Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp) attract over 3.5 billion users every month, a figure almost equal to half the total global population.
The promising future of Horizon Worlds
According to Zuckerberg, the future of the Metaverse is yet to be realized. Meta created Horizon Worlds, a metaverse that could provide a virtual reality for social interactions, homes, and workrooms. Users appear as avatars and can shop. Party, work and socially interact.
However, the platform has faced difficulties in attracting users. Data from the Wall Street Journal shows that monthly users dropped from 300,000 in February 2022 to 200,000. The journal also reported that only 9 per cent of the 10,000 separate worlds in Horizon Worlds have more than fifty visitors.
“Most Horizon Worlds users generally do not return to the application after the first month, and the users base has steadily declined since the spring,” the document from Wall Street read.
Horizon is accessible through Meta’s Quest virtual-reality headsets, which offer a range of games and activities. Quest retention rates, meaning continued use by owners, have dropped in each of the past three years, the documents show. More than half of Quest headsets—the entry model costs about $400—aren’t in use six months after they are purchased, according to people familiar with the data.
In a survey of Horizon users, Meta researchers said users reported that they couldn’t find metaverse worlds they liked and couldn’t find other people to hang out with. Other complaints included that “people do not look real” and that the avatars don’t have legs.
Meta’s attempt to revive Horizon Worlds
In a bid to increase the number of users, Meta opened up Horizon Worlds to teenagers despite objections from civil society groups and lawmakers. Starting April 2023, the social media giant said that children as young as thirteen from the United States and Canada will be able to access the virtual reality app.
Horizon Worlds had earlier been capped at 17 years. Going forward, teens can explore immersive worlds, play games like Giant Mini Paddle Golf and Arena Clash, enjoy live comedy and concerts, and connect with others across the world. Additionally, the teens can create their virtual experiences, allowing Meta to capture young adopters in key demographics.
“Meta is despicably attempting to lure young teens to Horizon Worlds in an attempt to boost its failing platform,” said Connecticut Democratic Sen. Dozens of civil society groups have reiterated the same, saying that Meta’s Virtual Reality offerings could expose users to new privacy risks. The risks could include illegal collection of biometric and other data, new forms of unfair and deceptive marketing, and abuse.