Meta’s new Horizon Worlds metaverse game that launched in Paris and Spain this week has drawn criticism for its primitive graphics.
The game, accessible through Meta’s Oculus VR headset, was criticized for graphics that looked like a video game from the late 90s and early 2000s. In a widely circulated screenshot of the game is a digital avatar of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg against a background of a virtual Eiffel Tower and what appears to be the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
The beta version of Horizon Worlds was launched to Oculus headset owners in the United States and Canada in Dec. 2021 and later to all individuals 18 and older. By Feb. 2022, the game had garnered 300,000 monthly users.
OculusVR is not a PS5
Regarding criticism for the rudimentary graphics, a commentator from Hacker News pointed out that the Oculus VR headset, with its $400 price tag, is the main culprit. Its limited processing power means it cannot render complex graphics with the same prowess as a PlayStation 5. A postgraduate student at Annenberg School for Communication in Pennsylvania said the low-fidelity appearance mitigates disorientation some vulnerable users may experience with more advanced graphics and thus may be intentionally designed that way. He also added that Horizon Worlds might be a sandbox environment for Meta to gain insight into what users are willing to pay for in a virtual world and is not the ultimate goal of the company’s efforts. Zuckerberg himself said that realizing the metaverse as the company envisions it could take 10-15 years.
Other critics drew attention to the Horizon Worlds avatars’ lack of a lower body.
In response to criticism of Horizon Worlds, Zuckerberg said that major graphical updates were on the way, even with its headset’s limited power. To demonstrate this, he published a selfie including basic lighting to illustrate the headset’s capabilities, which drew skepticism.
Creator monetization is key
In a conversation with Vidyuu Studios earlier this year, Zuckerberg emphasized the importance of creators monetizing user experiences and contributing to the metaverse economy. Much like how Apple takes a slice of the profits from sales on its App Store, Zuckerberg envisions that Meta will become the gatekeeper of a new virtual economy and take a cut from every transaction in the metaverse.
Companies and individuals already earn money in virtual environments like Roblox, where they can create virtual spaces to meet and express themselves. Roblox, whose graphics can also be considered rudimentary, already attracts 50 million users through a killer user experience.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin believes that Meta’s attempt at the metaverse will fail.
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