When Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, took a first look at Horizon Worlds, his company’s multi-billion dollar metaverse gamble, the internet mocked the platform’s graphics—to the extent that Zuckerberg issued a wounded apology shortly afterward, claiming that Horizon “was able to do much more” and “improve quickly”.
It seems that even the Meta staff working on those improvements don’t hold the platform in high regard either.
According to internal company memos obtained by The Verge, Meta’s Horizon Worlds team has been repeatedly reprimanded by department leaders for rarely using the platform, despite repeated orders to do so both at work and at home. Further memos reveal that the Horizon Worlds team has been ordered to remain in a “quality lockout” for the remainder of the year to address lingering issues with the platform’s appearance and functionality.
“For many of us, we don’t spend that much time in Horizon and our dogfooding dashboards show this quite clearly,” Meta’s VP of Metaverse Vishal Shah wrote to employees on Sept. 15. 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 ?”
Two weeks later, Horizon Worlds leadership found the team members’ engagement with the platform still unsatisfactory. In a Sept. 30 memo, Shah wrote that a plan was being drawn up to “hold managers accountable” for enforcing mandatory Horizon sessions for Meta employees to use the platform and encouraging them to share it with non-work friends. .
“Everyone in this organization should make it their mission to fall in love with Horizon Worlds. You can’t do that without using it,” Shah said. “Get in. Organize times to do it with your colleagues or friends, both in internal builds and in the public build, so you can interact with our community.”
Shah admitted that the platform’s onboarding experience is “confusing and frustrating for users,” and that “the total weight of papercuts, stability issues, and bugs makes it too difficult for our community to experience the magic of Horizon.”
For these reasons, on September 15, the Horizon Worlds team was instructed by Shah to remain in a “quality lockout” until the end of the year to “make sure we fix our quality gaps and performance issues before opening Horizon to more users.” ”
A Meta spokesperson told Decrypt that “of course, we are always making quality improvements and acting on the feedback from our community of creators.”
“This is a multi-year journey and we continue to improve what we build,” the spokesperson said.
Horizon Worlds’ woes are especially notable in light of the extraordinary amount of money Zuckerberg has spent on the division, which the CEO has repeatedly labeled the future of his company. In July, Meta’s metaverse division posted a whopping $2.8 billion loss for the second quarter, bringing the group’s year-to-date losses to $5.77 billion. In 2021, the division lost $10.2 billion.
During Meta’s Q2 earnings call in July, Zuckerberg repeatedly defended his metaverse division, Facebook Reality Labs (FRL), before shareholders.
“This is clearly a very expensive undertaking in the coming years,” Zuckerberg admitted at the time. “But as the metaverse becomes more important in every part of how we live,[…] I am convinced that we will be happy to have played an important role in this.”
Meta has been doing everything it can to dominate the metaverse — an immersive, future version of the Internet navigated by digital avatars — ever since the company name changed from Facebook last fall. But while Zuckerberg has had a voracious spree in the metaverse, the results have yet to manifest.
Leaders in Web3 have expressed skepticism about the company’s metaverse campaign. In late July, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin stated that “the metaverse is going to happen,” but that he doesn’t believe that “any of the existing corporate efforts to intentionally create the metaverse are going anywhere.”
“It’s way too early to know what people actually want,” Buterin said at the time. “So anything Facebook makes now will fail.”
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