Despite Meta really hoping that the metaverse is going to be the next big thing, it looks like the company’s employees may not really adhere to this narrative yet. In recent memos to employees obtained by The Verge, Vishal Shah, Meta’s VP of Metaverse admitted that the company has yet to create a killer metaverse app.
In one memo sent to employees on September 15, Shah said that the team working on Horizon Worlds, Meta’s free VR platform would stay in “quality lockdown” until the end of the year to fix the app before opening the gates to more users. The app crossed 300,000 users earlier this year, and Meta is planning to bring it to desktop and mobile via the web in the near future.
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In the memo, Shah said that recent feedback from creators, playtesters and Meta employees hasn’t been great, adding that “the aggregate weight of papercuts, stability issues, and bugs is making it too hard for our community to experience the magic of Horizon. Simply put, for an experience to become delightful and retentive, it must first be usable and well crafted.”
In August, the awkward state of Horizon Worlds became quite obvious in a social media post from CEO Mark Zuckerberg celebrating the launch of Horizon Worlds in France and Spain. On this occasion, the exec published a picture of his Horizon Worlds avatar in front of 3D versions of the Eiffel tower and the Sagrada Familia (you can see it at the top of this post).
The graphics of this Horizon Worlds screenshot looked so dated that the picture quickly became the subject of Internet mockery. The backlash forced Zuckerberg to promise that “major updates to Horizon and avatar graphics” were coming soon in a subsequent post.
In his September 15 memo to employees, Meta’s VP of Metaverse complained that people in his team didn’t use the company’s flagship VR app enough. The exec also acknowledged that if Meta employees didn’t “love” Horizon Worlds, consumers would probably feel the same way.
“For many of us, we don’t spend that much time in Horizon and our dogfooding dashboards show this pretty clearly,” Shah wrote in the memo. “Why is that? Why don’t we love the product we’ve built so much that we use it all the time? The simple truth is, if we don’t love it, how can we expect our users to love it?”
According to The Verge, Shah followed up with a plan to “hold managers accountable” in another memo to employees sent on September 30. “Everyone in this organization should make it their mission to fall in love with Horizon Worlds. You can’t do that without using it. Get in there. Organize times to do it with your colleagues or friends, in both internal builds but also the public build so you can interact with our community.”
Meta spokesperson Ashley Zandy reacted to the report to say that the company is “confident that the metaverse is the future of computing,” and that it’s “a multiyear journey.” Meta is expected to share more on his metaverse ambitions during its Connect conference next week on October 11, but the company clearly has a lot of work to do to convince people that the metaverse is really worth investing so many resources.