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Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse is a FLOP as users complain: ‘It’s lonely’

A little under a year since Mark Zuckerberg rechristened Facebook as Meta, internal documents have revealed that his Metaverse virtual reality universe is struggling to meet its goals. 

That’s according to documents that were seen by the Wall Street Journal. The company planned to hit 500,000 users of its virtual reality platform, Horizon Worlds, by the end of 2022. The number at the time of writing is less than 200,000, still well below a revised goal of 280,000 by the end of 2022. 

The documents also reveal that the majority of those 200,000 users, don’t come back after entering the system once with many complaining most of the areas are bereft of other users. 

They’ve also complained of avatars floating around eerily with no legs – an issue Meta says it’ll fix in the coming months.  

Since the Spring of 2022, the number of users of Horizon Worlds has been declining. 

Less than ten percent of the worlds in the Metaverse receive more than 50 visitors and the majority of these worlds receive zero visitors. 

A new report from the Wall Street Journal says that Meta’s Metaverse is more than 300,000 users short of its year end goal

At an event this past Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg promised that avatars would be getting legs soon

At an event this past Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg promised that avatars would be getting legs soon

Among the many complaints users have had include unrealistic avatars, sexually aggressive behavior and general bugs throughout the system. They've also complained about deserted worlds, such as the restaurant pictured above

Among the many complaints users have had include unrealistic avatars, sexually aggressive behavior and general bugs throughout the system. They’ve also complained about deserted worlds, such as the restaurant pictured above 

The company's 2021 rebrand was motivated in part because of founder Mark Zuckerberg's desire to move the company beyond social media

The company’s 2021 rebrand was motivated in part because of founder Mark Zuckerberg’s desire to move the company beyond social media

Horizon is supposed to be a community where users can access interactive experiences. The Journal report notes: ‘There are rarely any girls in the Hot Girl Summer Rooftop Pool Party, and in Murder Village there is often no one to kill.’

While document, discussing how users can be driven into communities where they can interact, read: ‘An empty world is a sad world.’

In some cases, female users complained of sexually aggressive behavior from male users.  

Among the other complaints that researchers within Meta found among users were that people’s avatars do no look real and many ‘don’t have legs.’ 

At Meta’s annual Connect conference on Tuesday, Zuckerberg said that avatars would be getting legs soon, and demonstrated his own virtual pair by jumping up and down. 

But Meta has since admitted that the demo ‘featured animations created from motion capture’.

WHAT IS HORIZON WORLDS? 

Horizon Worlds, released by Meta on December 9, is a gaming app that allows users in the US and Canada to gather with others, play games and build their own virtual worlds.

Users have to be at least 18 years old and have the proper equipment – a Quest 2 virtual reality (VR) headset. 

Horizon World first announced in 2019 and launched last year in beta. 

An early tester of Meta’s Horizon Worlds metaverse app said her avatar was virtually groped by a stranger. 

Motion capture involves using sensors to record a person’s movements in real life, and translating them into computer-animated images.

The legs that Zuckerberg’s avatar demonstrated in the video demo may therefore be more lifelike than legs in the metaverse.

In September, Horizon Worlds was quietly put on ‘lockdown’ with new features blocked until the bugs could be worked out by the company’s developers. 

That lockdown was first reported by the Verge who quoted Metaverse Vice President Vishal Shaw as saying bugs were ‘making it too hard for our community to enjoy the magic of Horizon.’

He went on to complain about the lack of Meta employees who were using their products saying: ‘The simple truth is, if we don’t love it, how can we expect our users to love it?’ 

One user quoted by the Journal, Carlos Silva, a 41-year-old IT manager, said that he joined the Metaverse in the midst of the pandemic. 

When he got into the platform, he found that nobody else was there with him. Silva said: ‘I was like, you know, this is the whole reason why I bought this thing. So I’m going to figure this out, how to find where to go and how to meet people.’

Since his initial experience, Silva says that he now runs tours on the platform to help new users to avoid his negative first impressions. 

A recent report from tech site Futurism found that Decentraland, a project on Horizon Worlds that has a valuation of $1.2 billion, had just 38 active users over a 24-hour period.

Meta’s shares took a dive of 4.3 percent on Tuesday shortly after the company announced its new $1,499 Quest Pro virtual reality headset that it touted as a ‘gamechanger’ for building its metaverse.

Meta gave the first look at its new Quest Pro virtual reality headset that the company said is a gamechanger for its metaverse

Meta gave the first look at its new Quest Pro virtual reality headset that the company said is a gamechanger for its metaverse

The virtual reality headset, which is being described as a productivity device, aimed at designers, architects and other creative professionals, was unveiled during the Connect event which was held via livestream.

The device is 40 percent thinner than the Quest 2 due to new pancake lenses that also delivers 75 percent more contrast and includes new self-tracking controllers that ‘work like an extension of your hand.’

Pre-orders open today and Quest Pro will be available on October 25. Saturday’s Wall Street Journal report said that the majority of Quest headsets aren’t in use around six months after they are purchased. 

Zuckerberg made several big announcements for its new virtual reality venture, it failed to touch on how the company plans on fixing its ‘broken’ metaverse that is plagued with bugs, harassment and privacy concerns that are hindering its favorability among the public.

The issues include reports of woman being ‘virtually raped,’ consumers believe hackers will steal their virtual identity and most people do not understand what the metaverse actually is.

So far this year, the company formerly known as Facebook has seen shares fall by over 60 percent. In terms of market value, the company has shed more than $700 billion. 

The company’s 2021 rebrand was motivated in part because of founder Mark Zuckerberg’s desire to move the company beyond social media.

In defense of the metaverse as a whole, the chief executive of VRdirect told the Journal: ‘We’re trying to land on the moon, and people are complaining that the coffee machine’s not working.’

THE FACEBOOK ‘METAVERSE’: A VIRTUAL WORLD WITHIN A WORLD 

In a recent interview, Mark Zuckerberg said that over the next five years, he wants people to think of Facebook not as a social media company, but a ‘metaverse’ company.

That is one that is akin to a virtual environment where people can work and play for most of their 24 hours without leaving their home.

‘And my hope, if we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company,’ Zuckerberg said in the interview with The Verge

‘And obviously, all of the work that we’re doing across the apps that people use today contribute directly to this vision in terms of building community and creators. 

‘But this is something that I’m spending a lot of time on, thinking a lot about, we’re working on a ton. And I think it’s just a big part of the next chapter for the work that we’re going to do in the whole industry.’

So what exactly is the metaverse? 

As Zuckerberg describes it, it’s a ‘vision’ that spans the entire tech industry, calling it the successor to the mobile internet.

‘But you can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it,’ he continued. 

‘And you feel present with other people as if you were in other places, having different experiences that you couldn’t necessarily do on a 2D app or webpage, like dancing, for example, or different types of fitness.’ 

The Facebook CEO says his vision – which he has been working on for several months – would not only reach into virtual reality, but augmented reality, computers, mobile devices and game consoles as well.

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