Facebook's sad universe

 Leaked internal documents show that Meta, Facebook's parent company, "burns" $15 billion into the metaverse but only creates a boring virtual universe.

According to records obtained by the WSJ, Meta originally set a target of 500,000 monthly active users in Horizon Worlds by the end of the year. However, the current number is less than 200,000. Meanwhile, since February, the company claims its metaverse platform has attracted 300,000 participants.

"An empty world is a sad world," the document summarizes the company's efforts. By comparison, Meta's current social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have a combined 3.5 billion monthly users.

Statistics also show that most participants do not return to Horizon after the first month, and the number of users has been steadily decreasing since the spring. Only 9% of the regions created in Horizon are visited by at least 50 people, the rest are barely noticed.

Many areas in Horizon are rarely visited. Photo: WSJ
Many areas in Horizon are rarely visited. Photo: WSJ

The Horizon Worlds virtual world was announced by Meta last December and is accessible via the Meta Quest virtual reality headset. More than half of the Quest glasses, which start at $400, are no longer in use by the user six months after they were purchased. Some users said the metaverse wasn't what they envisioned and they couldn't find others to play with either. Meta said it will release a web version of Horizon for mobile and desktop this year, but has not revealed a launch date.

According to Business Insider, Meta has invested a total of $15 billion in its metaverse adventure since the beginning of the year. However, so far, they have only released the Horizon Worlds platform with the legged avatars and the $ 1,500 Meta Quest Pro glasses model. Both are not impressive compared to the tens of billions of dollars that the company has poured in.

Facebook changed its name to Meta late last year to reflect the company's new ambitions, alongside social media platforms. CEO Mark Zuckerberg expects Meta to be a pioneer in the virtual world, where users work and play together.

However, Zuckerberg's risky bet is making business results increasingly poor. The number of users goes down. Advertisers cut spending and move to other platforms. The company freezes hiring. Meta's share price has fallen 62% for the year.

A spokesperson for Meta said that metaverse is a multi-year development project. They're still in their early stages so people may be skeptical about the metaverse, but the company continues to believe it's the future of computing.

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