The news: Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has expanded its Horizon Worlds metaverse platform out of invite-only beta and is opening up the immersive portal to users 18 and older in the US and Canada.
Why it’s worth watching: Meta has been gearing up to get its metaverse hardware and apps up and running in time for the holidays, possibly to seize the opportunity to kickstart adoption of its immersive platform, per TechCrunch.
- The timing for opening up Horizon Worlds is right: GAME research revealed last month that VR and AR searches have risen 5,800% in the past year with Meta-owned products as the key items being searched, indicating peak interest in the metaverse.
- Meta recently updated its Quest headsets with a bevy of new features, including cloud backups for games, mixed-reality camera mode, multi-user support, and cosmetic items for the VR office.
- Horizon Worlds, which was first announced in 2019, is the launching point for the metaverse and enables players with headsets to play games, attend events, or hang out across various experiences.
- To run Horizon Worlds, participants need to download the free app on a Quest 2 device. As of January 13, 2022, it will no longer be supported on Quest 1, effectively limiting access to updates and features to newer headsets.
The bigger picture: Meta is clearly seizing the moment and aligning its hardware as well as its VR platform for wider adoption in the holiday shopping season.
- Updating the Oculus Quest 2 headsets then enabling wider access to Horizon Worlds could help Meta generate even more interest and buzz, leading to adoption.
- Opening up Horizon Worlds in the US and Canada will also attract more developers, who can now openly create experiences with a larger base of users.
What’s next? Physical retail stores would be the best way for Meta to demonstrate experiences to potential clients, and these could be coming soon as standalone pop-up stores or as kiosks in retailers like Best Buy or Micro Center.