Meta’s social VR app for Quest, Horizon Worlds, is lagging behind the competition when it comes to attracting and retaining VR users. According to a leaked memo obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the company is now ostensibly looking to boost numbers by more transparently appealing to younger teens in addition to funding a slew of new second-party content.
WSJ only posted snippets of the memo, entitled ‘Horizon 2023 Goals and Strategy’, which was allegedly written by Meta Vice President of Horizon Gabriel Aul. The memo is said to outline the team’s objectives for the first half of 2023.
Here’s some highlights we formatted into a bulleted list, which also includes additional info supplied by a source cited by WSJ:
- Competitors are outperforming HW. Improving user retention is most important, especially among teens and young adults
- HW to open to teens aged 13 to 17, which could come as early as March
- Meta is working with outside studios to build new worlds and experiences for HW
- The team is aiming to launch at least 20 new Horizon-hosted experiences built by second-party studios. Of the 20, it’s hoping for five medium hits and at least one a major hit
- The flatscreen version of Horizon for mobile and desktops is set to come sometime in H1 2023
Additionally, WSJ reports the memo outlined some key performance metrics, claiming Horizon Worlds’ weekly retention rate was 11% in January, which the company aims to increase to 20%. The goal for monthly active users for the first half of 2023 is said to be 500,000, with hopes of reaching one million for the full year. Currently the platform is at 200,000, or just below the December peak, the reported memo outlines.
The previously reported flatscreen version, which is said to launch by the end of the first half of 2023, is hoping to achieve 150,000 monthly cross-screen Horizon users.
Meta’s Quest 2 headset is technically only available to users aged 13 and up. Horizon Worlds on the other hand has been limited to users 18+ since it was launched in 2021, and only to those in US, Canada, UK, France, Iceland, Ireland and Spain.
While none of this seems to have hindered children below 13 from playing all the Quest 2 has to offer, Horizon Worlds included. More transparently appealing to young teens though will likely come with a host of safety requirements that the company needs to fulfil for liability reasons.
Meta issued a response to WSJ, supporting in part its move to focus on teens:
“Teens are already spending time in a variety of VR experiences on Quest,” Meta spokesman Joe Osborne told WSJ, “and we want to ensure that we can provide them with a great experience in Horizon Worlds as well, with age-appropriate tools and protections in place.”
This comes hot on the heels of Meta reducing its workforce by 13% late last year, one of the biggest tech layoffs in recent memory, which saw 11,000 jobs cut from payroll.
Meanwhile, the company’s Reality Labs XR division has dramatically increased its operating budget in an ostensible bid to maintain market dominance over similar metaverse pushes from the likes of Apple, Google, etc. At the same time, Meta has slashed some XR projects, including first-party title Echo VR.
Provided the report is true, it appears Meta is making another important step towards competing more directly with cross-platform social gaming titans like Roblox and Rec Room.