Of all of Meta’s current offerings, their ‘Horizon Worlds’ VR creation platform provides the most indicative view of their future metaverse plans.
And starting this week, more people will be able to share in that vision, with Horizon Worlds launching for users in the UK, as well as the US and Canada.
As shown in the video above, Horizon Worlds allows users to create their own virtual spaces, complete with a variety of 3D objects and tools that they can use to create interactive environments.
Meta launched Horizon Worlds with all users in the US and Canada in December, and is now expanding it to the UK, before opening up access to all EU users in the coming months.
According to Goal:
“From the beginning, we envisioned Horizon Worlds as a creator-friendly VR environment that features world-class social worldbuilding tools. And by building those tools and listening and incorporating feedback from creators, that’s exactly what it is. But we are always working to make it even better. For example, last month we launched our first asset library, a collection of pre-made items that creators can use whenever they want. In addition, we have also committed $10 million dollars to help creators get their worlds off the ground.”
The asset library will play a big role in the next stage of the metaverse, with Meta looking to help brands build 3D models of their products, to enhance e-commerce visualization, which can then also be made available in Horizon Worlds for use. in user projects.
That will provide new promotional opportunities in this emerging digital space which, as noted, gives us the clearest indicator of what the metaverse will look like, at least in Meta’s current view, as a consumption tool.
We’ve already seen some hints of the marketing implications in this regard, with brands like Wendy’s creating their own branded environments in Horizon Worlds, inviting users to come and engage with their virtual products and activations.
That, again, is where the metaverse is headed, with individuals and brands able to create Minecraft-like interactive spaces, where users can fully immerse themselves in virtual reality, or potentially through other means as well, in their creations.
Although it is quite basic at the moment, in its early stages of development. Eventually, as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has shown, the metaverse will incorporate a wide range of fully immersive and interactive environments, allowing you to create and explore all kinds of new worlds, beyond anything you’ve ever experienced.
We’re nowhere near that yet, in terms of fully functional, interactive, avatar-driven participation in these VR worlds. But ultimately, that’s where Meta is headed, and if you want to get a sense of what’s coming and what Meta sees as the next evolution for brand pages, Horizon Worlds is your current best indicator on this front.
But the commitment to virtual reality also opens up new forms of harassment and abuse, in an even more closed and immersive space. Which is another element Meta needs to address.
On this front, Meta has also announced the addition of ‘Voice Mode’ in VR, which will allow users to choose whether they want to hear other users speaking within the VR environment.
As Meta explains:
“[Voice mode] It will allow you to choose how you listen to people who are not on your friends list, including the option to not listen to unwanted conversations. By default, you’ll hear all nearby users at the same volume, but with Voice Mode, you can easily switch to Distorted Voices, where the voices of non-friends come across as friendly, unintelligible sounds.”
As shown in the image above, when a user selects “Distorted Voices”, strangers will see an indicator that they cannot hear them in space. Users will be able to change this setting at any time, but it provides another security measure to help protect users in VR, where there have already been some concerning cases of abuse, even in its early, rudimentary state.
At the end of last year, one Horizon Worlds beta tester reported being groped by a stranger in VR, while another experienced “gang rape” by male users in space, which he described as a “very real” feeling.
Those incidents prompted Meta to add a new ‘personal limit’ feature, which allows users to keep others at a distance from their avatar.
Meta has now also added new pop-up warnings that are displayed to people behaving disruptively in the VR space.
Therefore, there are measures to mitigate the risks, to a certain extent. But it looks like this could become a much bigger concern moving the platform forward, and Meta needs to make sure it’s fully addressed before rolling out a broader implementation of its metaverse.
Will that really happen? Meta doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to addressing potential issues like this before they become major concerns, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Meta went ahead with expanding their vision of the metaverse over anything else, including the user security.
Which, in some ways, seems to be happening with Horizon Worlds expanding to the next stage, though Meta hopes its developing security tools will be enough to provide adequate protection for users in virtual space.