Zuckerberg’s Metaverse isn’t Dead… Yet

Will Meta's New Ouro Interactive studio and Horizon Worlds for Mobile service rekindle the dwindling Metaverse platform?

Zuckerberg's Metaverse isn't Dead... Yet
Virtual RealityInsights

Published: July 31, 2023


Rory Greener

Meta’s Horizon Worlds launched in late 2021. The firm debuted its service with plans to push the then-unknown Metaverse concept into the mainstream; company CEO Mark Zuckerberg firmly believes that his team will lead this revolution – despite setbacks.

Meta is experiencing mixed results. Despite a robust XR hardware and software product portfolio, Zuckerberg’s Metaverse vision has generally faced poor financials and low user bases.

Following mixed results from its Q2 earnings call, Meta is pushing forward to promote its Metaverse platforms via a roadmap to scale the services for a broader range of users.

New Plans, New Visions… Same Horizons?

Meta looks to rebuild its Horizon product offering for the rest of 2023, leading into 2024. The Horizon platform is a shared immersive environment where users can enjoy digital content as a group.

Moreover, the platform encourages its users to create and monetize content – with the firm taking a sum from each sale.

The user-generated content (UGC) focus follows Web3 forecasts, whereby online services enable user-bases to create their own RT3D content in a manner similar to Web2 UGC platforms such as Youtube or TikTok.

For Horizon, Meta looks to promote an ecosystem of immersive UGC to suit a range of consumer and enterprise use cases. The firm also operates Venues for immersive live events and Workrooms for enterprise-grade collaboration.

Many other Metaverse services, such as Engage and The Sandbox, allow users to create content for various use cases. Meta promotes a low-code ecosystem enabling developers to design content for Horizon easily.

However, despite many developer opportunities, Meta struggles to keep its Horizon service afloat with its dwindling user base.

At the same time, Meta’s Reality Labs XR R&D division has been losing money since 2022.

On the other hand, the numbers can be deceptive. The Metaverse and XR are emerging spaces, so immersive firms will not come out of the gate with astronomical capital or user bases.

Instead, XR companies are building Metaverse platforms and XR services ready for the future. Before the technology can succeed, it must work properly, and frameworks must be in place to allow scalability.

Now, learning from its recent divulge into the Metaverse, the Menlo Park-based firm is ready to take the next step into its immersive roadmap and attract new audiences.

Introducing Ouro Interactive

To help itself reach its Metaverse vision, the Menlo Park-based firm is debuting Ouro Interactive, a production studio Meta established to support Horizon VR experiences and content.

Meta’s Ouro Interactive is focusing on creating first-party VR gaming experiences. Last Friday, Ouro debuted Super Rumble, a game the Meta-owned studio built for Horizon Worlds, leveraging the platform’s Metaverse framework.

Meta’s Vice President of Metaverse Vishal Shah said that the new studio and refocus on Horizon represents the “next generation” of the firm’s Metaverse service.

Shah also added:

As consumers come to Horizon, we want to make sure there’s a bunch of compelling content that they can find on day one. We’re going to seed the ecosystem, bootstrap it with stuff that we build both in-house, but also with some studios that we’re working with.

Despite the refocus, Meta remains focused on providing an XR UCG ecosystem. Shah noted that Meta’s “long-term vision remains the same.”

Moreover, the VP explained that Horizon would be a “UGC-powered ecosystem, built by creators,” therefore promoting a self-serving platform promoting content growth and user scalability.

The VP also explained that AI solutions will soon debut on the platform to assist with lowering the entry barrier for budding Metaverse developers.

Shah expressed that the debut of Ouro Interactive and Super Rumble marks Meta “resetting the bar” of what the firm thinks a great experience in Horizon can be.

Moreover, Shah said the refocus is a “meaningful step” towards a positive Horizon future.

Meta goes Mobile

Alongside its new Ouro Studio, Meta is also releasing a mobile version of the Horizon Worlds service.

Meta’s mobile Metaverse application does not have a release date yet. However, according to reports, Meta has worked on the mobile service for the past year, but the firm is not yet satisfied with the application – delaying distribution.

Shah explained:

We ended up not shipping it. It was a little bit too much of a VR game on mobile as opposed to a mobile-native experience.

Meta is following in the footsteps of the more-popular Metaverse service Roblox, which allows users to enjoy shared interoperable UCG XR and immersive content on various devices from laptops, to Mobile, to headsets – notably, Roblox debuted on the Meta Quest earlier this month.

Meta is leveraging a broader spectrum of devices to boost the adoption of the Horizon service, with plans to expand the service following an underperforming period for Meta’s dedicated XR division.

Meta’s Underperforming Q2 Reports, Reality Labs Continues to Loss Capital

Meta plans to turn its financials and adoption rates around with its most recent Horizon announcement.

Earlier this month, Meta reported that its Reality Labs division lost roughly $3.7 billion in Q2 2024.

At the time, a Meta spokesperson added:

We anticipate our full-year 2023 total expenses will be in the range of $88-91 billion, increased from our prior range of $86-90 billion due to legal-related expenses recorded in the second quarter of 2023. This outlook includes approximately $4 billion of restructuring costs related to facilities consolidation charges and severance and other personnel costs. We expect Reality Labs operating losses to increase year-over-year in 2023

Moreover, the firm expects losses to increase meaningfully year-over-year.

Meta is working on developing its emerging technology projects ranging from XR to AI, as part of “ongoing product development efforts” towards creating AR/VR/MR services.

Additionally, Zuckerberg noted that Meta is investing in its ecosystem to scale its services to recuperate lost capital.

Mark Zuckerberg said his firm had a “good quarter” despite the result.

The CEO also noted that Meta is seeing “strong engagement” across its apps, explaining: “We have the most exciting roadmap I’ve seen in a while with Llama 2, Threads, Reels, new AI products in the pipeline, and the launch of Quest 3 this fall.”

Even though Meta faced a tough Q2, Zuckerberg is notably optimistic. The CEO also added:

We expect higher infrastructure-related costs next year. Given our increased capital investments in recent years, we expect depreciation expenses in 2024 to increase by a larger amount than in 2023. We also expect to incur higher operating costs from running a larger infrastructure footprint.

Meta’s Q2 reports are not the only concern facing the company.

The Menlo Park-based firm is also falling behind in terms of users. Reports indicate that Metas’ Horizon Worlds has less than 200,000 users.

However, Meta looks to boost this number significantly. The firm is following its grand adoption rates of Threads, which leveraged pre-existing accounts on its social media smartphone services.

The firm may follow suit, hoping to improve adoption rates by promoting Horizon for smartphone users – not just headset owners.

Moreover, by promoting Horizon for smartphones, Meta could drive adoption rates for its headsets.

By providing a “lite” version of the Metaverse for smartphones, the Menlo Park-based firm could entice new users to pick up a Meta Quest device to experience a fully immersive version of Horizon. Therefore improving capital and users.

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