Meta Is Making Life Difficult For Its Metaverse Producers


Creators who use Horizon Worlds, Metaverse social VR playscape, will no longer be able to make special events, the company said Tuesday as part of the platform’s v109 update notes. Some of the people who made the feature thought it would get better in the future.

In March, I wrote a story about the makers of Horizon Worlds who run the Unknown Theatre, a VR comedy club, and how they organised a VR protest against how Meta handled events on the platform. Protesters didn’t like how changes made it harder to find community-organized events, which hurts the club’s regularly planned shows. They also didn’t like how Meta gave more attention to high-profile events with big names like Carrie Underwood.

Richard Slixton, a stand-up comic who hosts his own comedy open mics in Horizon, told me for that piece, “It’s super frustrating and disheartening.” “You put in so much work to build the world. That takes a long time and requires learning new skills. Then you have to put in the work to make the thing happen. Most event organizers won’t even get anyone to come because there’s no way to get people’s attention.

Well, that’s about to get a lot harder, because artists can’t make events after Tuesday. Existing events that are set to happen after Tuesday can still happen, and some “official events” (likely ones backed by Meta) will still be promoted, but users can’t make new ones.

Meta is presenting the change as the end of a service that doesn’t meet its standards. In the v109 update notes, Meta said, “As we’ve refocused Worlds development on making the platform better as a whole, we’ve also taken the time to look at some older features that aren’t quite up to our new quality standards.” “As part of this effort, we’ve made the hard decision to get rid of the Worlds tool for making events.” Meta also said in a post on Discord, “It’s clear that our current events system doesn’t meet the needs of our community as a whole.” (The full statement from Discord is at the end of this post.)

Creators who are investing money into Meta’s idea of the metaverse will have an even more difficult time as a result of the change to events.  Horizon Worlds can only be used with Meta’s Quest VR headsets. Meta is working on web and mobile versions, but they haven’t been released yet, and the platform has a hard time keeping the few users it does have. Even the Unknown Theatre is expanding. One of the club’s co-owners, Simon Josh Abramovitch, the Unknown Theatre will keep putting on shows in Horizon Worlds, but it will also move into Flipside Studio, which lets creators livestream VR shows.

But even though it may not look like it, Meta is still dedicated to the metaverse. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, has said that 2023 will be the “year of efficiency,” but the company said in April that it expects its Reality Labs business to lose more money in 2023 than it did in 2022.

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