Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Facebook/Meta Quietly Leaving Virtual Worlds Behind

Last year, Facebook/Meta was really harping itself as the future of virtual worlds. It was touting it's Horizons as the up and coming brand new virtual landscape that the masses would want to join and experience. This year, they've been quiet about it. CEO and owner Mark Zuckerburg has gone from repeatedly promoting Horizons as the must be-in place online, to having stopped.
So what happened? Well, Horizons turned out to be a big money loser. Zuckerburg invested billions in his company's virtual world, only to get very little return for it in comparison. 
The number of people signing up was far short than the half million expected, and most didn't stay after their first month. It seems the "lack of realism" on the avatars, notably having no legs, was one of the big reasons. Of it's virtual worlds, only a handful were visited by more than 50, most not visited by anyone but it's creator. And unlike Second Life, which continued to do very well, Facebook/Meta workers didn't enjoy using the place on their free time "because it's riddled with bugs and other quality issues."

For all the money invested, Horizon's returns are small in comparison. It brought in 727 million USD in 2022, 17% less than in 2021. The result has been huge loses, losing nearly 24 BILLION dollars in 2021 and 2022, 13.7 billion in 2022 alone. Considering their overall income was 32.1 billion, the company had been continuing to spend and invest heavily after initial small returns, and was getting even less. So no wonder Facebook/Meta is cutting its losses.

Fortunately for Zuckerberg, technology tends have allowed him to quietly leave virtual reality behind: AI, which in recent months has gotten more attention thanks to programs like Chat GPT. An article on "The Street" stated in an announcement, he announced, "We're creating a new top-level product group at Meta focused on generative AI to turbocharge our work in this area. We're starting by pulling together a lot of the teams working on generative AI across the company into one group focused on building delightful experiences around this technology. ... In the short term, we'll focus on building creative and expressive tools. Over the longer term, we'll focus on developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways."

So it seems Horizon is being left behind, joining the ranks of the virtual worlds such as There and Blue Mars that had gotten plenty of talk but ended up falling short, while Second Life and to a smaller extent VRChat, continue to flourish.
Sources: The Street, Kotaku, PC Gamer

Bixyl Shuftan

1 comment:

  1. These people dont live in the real world. All that money, wasted, could have fed millions of people, or produced a new antibiotic.