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Meta Employee Says Horizon Worlds Is "Sad" And "Empty", Player Count Falls Far Short Of Targets

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has grand ambitions to be the first to create a true metaverse–a virtual world where everyone goes to work, play, and live. But developing the metaverse is proving to be difficult for Meta as Horizon Worlds has fallen far short of expectations.

Horizon Worlds is Meta's virtual playground. The idea is for Horizon Worlds to be filled with user-created "worlds" for players to visit and socialize. Only, it's not entirely living up to its lofty ambitions. It's buggy, boring, and worst of all, empty.

The Wall Street Journal has obtained internal memos that reveal Horizon World is failing. Meta had the goal of acquiring 500,000 Horizon Worlds users by the end of the year–a paltry amount compared to the combined total users of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, which is almost half of all living human beings on planet Earth. Unfortunately for Meta, memos show Horizon World's current user count is under 200,000, and Meta has revised its year-end user goal to 280,000.

Horizon Worlds doesn't seem on track to achieve that goal, however. The Journal reported most users don't return after the first month and the userbase has been trending downward since the spring. Most of the worlds are devoid of users, and only 9 percent of user-created locations have had visitors at all.

One memo succinctly summed up Horizon Worlds' situation: "An empty world is a sad world."

In a limited survey (largely due to Horizon Worlds lack of consistent users), Meta found that the common complaints were empty worlds, worlds that didn't seem worth visiting, and user avatars that looked a little wonky for their lack of legs. Meta announced at the Connect 2022 keynote that it would be adding legs, but making compelling worlds doesn't seem to be on the horizon.

Last month, VP of the metaverse Vishal Shah announced Horizon Worlds was on a new content "lockdown" until it improves its user experience. "For many of us, we don't spend that much time in Horizon and our dashboards show this pretty clearly," said Shah. "The simple truth is, if we don't love it, how can we expect our users to love it?"

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