Posted Oct 7, 2022 10:58 AMUpdated Oct 7, 2022, 4:03 PM
New blow for Meta and its virtual world? While the ex-Facebook metaverse is struggling to convince, with a starving audience of 300,000 users (mainly in the United States) and a more than mixed reception, an internal note from the boss of the company’s metaverse suggests that the project does not convince even internally. This publication comes a few days before the high mass of the metaverse organized by the group on October 11.
This memo dated September 15, consulted by the American media The Verge, is signed Vishal Shah, vice president of metaverse activities at Meta. Targeting Horizon Worlds, the group’s main virtual world application, this one claims that the project suffers from too many quality problems, and reveals that even the team in charge of its development does not really use it.
Many bugs and “frustrating little things”
“Since launch, we have seen that the central thesis of Horizon Worlds, a synchronous social network in which creators build engaging worlds, is strong,” writes Vishal Shah. But “feedback from creators, users, testers, and many of our team members point to the weight of frustrating little things, stability issues, and bugs that make it impossible to experience the magic of Horizon Worlds.”
The vice president of the metaverse summarizes: “For an experience to be satisfying and retain users, it must be usable and well designed. While Mark Zuckerberg delivered a fairly lofty vision of his immersive environment during his fall 2021 presentation, observers fell from the sky when the leader unveiled his avatar in April, when the software was released. in France and Spain, and made fun of its archaic graphics.
“Why don’t we like our product enough? »
But what’s most striking about Vishal Shah’s memo is the sense of lack of interest even from the development teams. “For many of us, we don’t spend a lot of time in Horizon, our dashboards show that quite clearly. The vice-president then asked himself: “Why so? Why don’t we love the product we created enough to use it all the time? The truth is, if we don’t like it, how can we expect our users to like it? »
After this cry from the heart, the head of the metaverse announces, in another note released a fortnight later, the development of a plan to “empower managers” so that teams use Horizon Worlds at least… once a week. “Everyone should be on a mission to fall in love with Horizon Worlds. You can’t do that if you don’t use it. Get in there! Organize moments with your colleagues and friends…”
hide the misery
While the platform is based on ten thousand universes – of more than variable quality – created by third-party developers, Vishal Shah points to the lack of hierarchy between all these experiences. Indeed, when you land in Horizon Worlds, the first question is: where to start? A menu offers a “Top 100” of the different worlds, but they do not seem to be classified by relevance. Faced with these often “confusing and frustrating” first steps, the manager urges his teams to offer the best content to new users, so that they do not flee immediately.
To gain more users, Meta is planning a two-dimensional version of its metaverse, less immersive but more realistic, to attract users without virtual reality masks. On this version, the developers will have to “target quality” rather than the audience. “I want to be clear, insists Vishal Shah. We are working on a product that has not found its place on the market. I need you to fully embrace ambiguity and change. »
The specter of Google+?
Given the strategic importance of Horizon Worlds in the pivot of Mark Zuckerberg’s group towards virtual universes, and the sums swallowed up by this project (13 billion dollars to date), these pleas from the boss of the metaverse to love his creature interrogate.
Contacted, Meta replied through the voice of the spokesperson for Reality Labs (the group’s metaverse entity) that the company remains “convinced that the metaverse is the future of computing”. Ashley Zandy also recalled the path of the metaverse is “a journey of several years” and that the company “will continue to improve its product”.
From the beginning, Mark Zuckerberg has warned that the metaverse is in the making. Moreover, this was reiterated in the global advertising campaign broadcast from September 5 – including on television – arguing that “the metaverse is certainly virtual, but the impact will be real”. But the road will be long. In the meantime, the ex-Facebook metaverse should not join Google +, Google’s social network, in the cemetery of failed diversifications.
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