Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is such a big believer in the idea of the metaverse that he renamed his company Meta. However, a leaked internal memo suggests that few developers within the company are as enthusiastic as he is. Vishal Shah, VP of Metaverse, said in the memo that even the people developing the company’s flagship Metaverse product, Horizon Worlds, aren’t using it. Why? It’s just not very good.
Anyone who keeps up with the meta quest to create the metaverse has to marvel here. Even those without a Quest headset got a preview of the current state of Horizon Worlds, thanks to Zuckerberg. This summer, Zuckerberg tried to celebrate the arrival of Horizon Worlds in France and Spain by posting a screenshot from the app (see above), but it only served to remind everyone how bad Horizon Worlds looks. Zuckerberg followed up by promising visual improvements to the experience, but the problems may be deeper than that.
In Shah’s September 15 memo, he acknowledged that Horizon Worlds had “quality gaps and performance issues” and wanted the team to spend the rest of the year in “quality lockdown.” The main problem, according to a leaked memo obtained by The Verge, is that Meta developers aren’t using it much. If the people creating Metaverse don’t want to use it, it’s unlikely that consumers will go out of their way to explore Meta’s new pet project.
This wasn’t just a one-off rant by Meta’s lead Metaverse executive. Shah followed up with another memo on September 30 outlining specific issues and how he intended to address them He noted that the onboarding experience is confusing and frustrating for users and that Horizon Worlds has yet to find “market fit.” It’s a sentiment I’ve heard from other people working on Metaverse technology. While there is a roadmap for the hardware, no one knows what kind of experience is going to work (if at all). Shah said a plan is being developed that will “hold managers accountable” to ensure their teams are using Horizon Worlds at least weekly.
Meta has thrown billions of dollars into the Metaverse based almost entirely on CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s conviction that it is the future of the Internet. The company is reportedly planning layoffs due to the loss of Metaverse and declining Facebook usage. If Meta can’t get its employees to care about Horizon Worlds, what chance does Zuckerberg have of the next Metaverse play?