Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has finally opened up access to its virtual playground known as Horizon Worlds. It is the first step towards the metaverse that Mark Zuckerberg envisions. Currently, it will only be available to Oculus Quest 2 headset users over the age of 18 in the US and Canada. According to the reports, the multiplayer platform is free to play by signing up with a Facebook account.
It was first announced in 2019 when it was just called Horizon and looked just like Minecraft. However, now it seems more like a social platform where users can gather around in virtual space and hold parties, date nights, and even meditation sessions, as seen from some images.
What Can You Do in Horizon Worlds?
Horizon Worlds allows users to play, attend events, build various stuff, and hang out with others in a world made up of squares, triangles, and circles. Upon entering its virtual realm, players go through a tutorial to learn the basics of the application. They can explore the spaces created by Meta itself and by the community members as well, who create new worlds by using the integrated game creation system. The company announced 10 million USD funding for creators to build experiences that encourage other users to make new games and spaces for different activities.
First of all, users will create their legless avatars and dive into the virtual world. The Plaza is the “hub world” that will be the first hangouts that players will come across. It is created by Meta and includes portals that lead to other user-generated worlds. Users can try interacting with the digital world around them and playing different games with other avatars. There is also a community moderator who will chat with new entrants and help them get used to the controls. It might be a familiar experience, with listening to people chattering and talking about the outfits of their avatars.
Before entering, the platform reminds users that anyone they interact with would be an actual human. So, they can keep their behaviour in check. However, harassment is a common problem that will follow the human inside the digital space as well. According to reports, a beta tester complained that she was groped in Horizon Worlds while surrounding avatars supported that behaviour.
To tackle the problem, Meta has provided a way for the users to report undesirable behaviour. It can be accessed from the primary menu, which is located on the player’s left wrist. There is a safety button that, upon pressing, instantly takes the user to “Safe Zone”. It is a private room where players can take a break or mute, block, and report others who have done wrong. There are also human moderators who can intervene whenever something happens. However, they will not be present in user-generated spaces, which means further challenges for Meta regarding keeping people safe online.
Mark Zuckerberg’s company has faced a lot of lawsuits but is still struggling to remove violence-glorifying and hate speech content from its social network. The tech giant is also mending the wounds from the impact of the documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen that revealed how the company’s products, specifically Instagram was a dangerous tool for the mental health of teenagers.
Can You Earn from Horizon Worlds?
Horizon Worlds may look a little like Roblox but currently does not have features to earn any money. Whereas, in Roblox, players can convert their Robux to real cash according to terms and conditions. Roblox players can also donate Robux to all members regardless of Builder Club membership. Critics believe that creative users who build playable worlds in the platform for other players must have an opportunity to sell their work.