Meta: why its Horizon Worlds metaverse is disappointing

“Honestly, I expected something else. I don’t understand why some features weren’t better thought out.” Contacted by video, a user details for L’Express the many flaws of Horizon Worlds, the metaverse of Meta now available in France. “As they have just launched it, we would have expected a somewhat out of the ordinary experience. But in fact, they imitate what the others are doing. Of course, new options will come along. But here, apart from the starting tutorial which does much better than the competition, it’s difficult to find anything positive”, continues the player, a little disillusioned.

Others before him have already expressed their criticisms. Especially in the United States, where Horizon Worlds has already been running for several months. Among the grievances that come up most often: the somewhat too simplistic aspect of the avatars, the insufficient possibilities for interaction compared to other platforms such as VRChat, the presence of very young users on certain games while Horizon Worlds is normally reserved for those over 18, an overall impression of emptiness…

This last point is not specific to Meta. But it gives an idea of ​​the path that remains to be traveled to stick to the futuristic images and speeches of Mark Zuckerberg. “The goal of metaverses, in general, is to interact with other users or participate in various activities depending on the worlds that are created there. The more avatars present, the more you increase your chances of “interaction. The less there is or if there are too great differences in centers of interest between the populations, the more you risk getting bored”, notes Philippe Cassoulat, president of the Observatory of metaverses and general manager of the Talan group.

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“Beyond the limitations related to the use of headsets (limited battery life, nausea, etc.), the biggest difficulty for metavers is that you cannot bring together many people at the same time for technical reasons. Suddenly, the operators create “instances”, that is to say experiences reserved for small groups of people”, confides a former game developer.

This constraint should ease in the future, given the massive investments made by Meta in data centers. In the meantime, the tech giant must create interest through the presence of shows and other attractions. “In the case of Horizon Worlds, it is the role of the ‘Venues’ space in which you can attend concerts, film screenings, etc. But it is above all the users who, by creating worlds interactive, will define what will be the real uses of metaverse over time”, warns Philippe Cassoulat.

Many options in development

For the time being, the situation remains very mixed. Admittedly, 10,000 worlds have already been created in Horizon Worlds, according to figures provided by Meta. However, many turn out to be interesting because you only have to stack a few items on top of each other to be counted. “It is a phenomenon present in all metaverses: there is both great creativity and in parallel a lot of activities or similar worlds”, considers Philippe Cassoulat.

The development of a virtual economy will change the game, notably by allowing creators to be remunerated for their works. With this in mind, Meta recently announced the launch of a new digital wallet, Meta Pay. The group is also continuing tests to integrate NFTs on its various platforms. But for the moment this mercantile dimension does not yet exist on the French version of Horizon Worlds and it remains embryonic on the American version.

“In the United States, Meta is opening and testing a shop of objects created by its users allowing others to buy them in order to populate their worlds. The group will take a commission on sales”, confirms Philippe Cassoulat . But this option does not seem present on the French version. On this point, competitors like Decentraland or The Sandbox therefore keep – temporarily – the advantage. However, Meta has not said its last word. The group continues to work on content and on new helmet models. It also develops augmented reality glasses and relies heavily on artificial intelligence (AI). “This will intervene at many levels: it will facilitate the handling of increasingly sophisticated creation tools or the creation of photorealistic avatars. It will also allow real-time conservation between several people who do not speak the same Finally, we will use it for moderation, in the extension of what is currently being done for web 2.0”, explains Antoine Bordes, director of FAIR (Facebook AI Research), the Meta division specializing in research in AI.

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“Metavers will take years to develop by integrating ever more advanced technologies in order to interact between the virtual and the real. It is therefore quite natural for a market player to look further afield and communicate on uses that will arrive in 1, 3 or 5 years. It is a trajectory. But the risk is indeed that the user projects himself there with disproportionate expectations and comes out disappointed”, judges Philippe Cassoulat. To attract crowds, virtual worlds will have to gain in consistency.



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Meta: why its Horizon Worlds metaverse is disappointing