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Meta Takes Next Steps Towards VR Social with the Expansion of Horizon Worlds

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Meta has announced that it’s making its Horizon Worlds VR creation and interaction platform available to all users in the US and Canada, which will serve as a key introduction to VR for many new Meta VR users who are set to find a headset under the Christmas tree this year.

As explained by Meta:

“Horizon Worlds is a social VR experience where you can create and explore together. Since launching as an invite-only beta last year, we’ve been amazed by the community that’s begun to form and inspired by the unique experiences they’ve built.”

As you can see in the video, Horizon Worlds is kind of like the main city in The Lego Movie, where users can build whatever they like, and invite others to join in the experience. There are also various applications and options within Horizon where you can meet with friends and hang out, or play games, take quizzes, etc.

Though no legs. Legs are not welcome in the metaverse, at least at this stage.

The expansion of access to Horizon Worlds comes at a key time, with sales of Quest 2 headsets already three times higher than previous VR devices, based on estimates. Last month, Qualcomm, which provides chips for Quest units, said that Meta had already sold 10 million Quest 2 systems, and while Meta hasn’t provided any official sales figures, the indicators are that many more people are now paying attention to VR, which has likely been boosted by the company’s metaverse-inspired name change.

Given this, it’s expected, as noted, that there’ll be quite a few Quest 2 units encased in festive wrapping paper right now, and with these new users set to come online in the next few weeks, Meta will need to provide compelling experiences, and ideally, social VR tools, to capitalize on that attention.

While AR is set to play a big part in the next stage of digital engagement and interaction, the real, true vision of a fully immersive metaverse, which forms a computer-generated alternate reality, where anything is possible, can really only happen in VR.

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That’s the vision Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg showcased back in October at Facebook Connect, when he unveiled the ‘Meta’ name change.

Zuckerberg in the Metaverse

The only way to engage in fully immersive environments like this is via a VR headset, which is another reason why the expansion of Horizon Worlds is significant, and why Meta is keen to get it out there, and get the ball rolling in broader adoption of VR, which will also include new games (Meta’s adding a new ‘Arena Clash’ 3v3 laser tag game today, while other, more advanced games like ‘Grand Theft Auto’ are coming the VR soon) and other experiences.

Eventually, Horizon Worlds could be the next evolution of social media interaction, and as VR adoption increased, so too does the impetus for other people to get their own unit, in order to join their friends in this new experience.

The next stage of digital engagement is coming soon, as is the metaverse and more immersive creative options for connection.

Horizon Worlds is available to download for free on Quest 2 here.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Meta Will Shut Down its Newsletter Platform Early Next Year

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Meta's Reallocating Resources Away from Bulletin and its News Tab, Which Could See Publishers Lose Out

In news that will surprise no-one, Meta has today confirmed that it’s shutting down its ‘Bulletin’ newsletter platform, just 18 months after its initial launch.

Another sign of Meta’s fleeting interest in the latest trends, the company launched Bulletin in April 2021, as part of an effort to take a piece of the growing newsletter market, with platforms like Substack seeing massive growth in facilitating direct connection between writers and their audiences. Twitter also acquired newsletter platform Revue, and it had seemed, at the time, that newsletters could offer a new, supplementary income stream for creators, aligned with social apps.

In addition to this, Meta also saw an opportunity to provide a platform for local publications that had been shut down due to the pandemic. With ad dollars from local businesses drying up, due to lockdown measures, many smaller publications had to shut down, and Meta viewed this as a chance to make Facebook an even more critical element of community engagement, by providing a direct pathway for independent journalists to serve their audiences through the app.

As part of its initial push, Meta allocated $5 million in funding for local publications to convert to Bulletin instead.

And it sort of worked. Bulletin, at last at one stage, supported over 115 publications, with more than half of the creators on the platform reaching over 1,000 subscribers.

But this year, amid tougher market conditions, Meta lost interest.

The company has been gradually scaling back its investment in news and original content in recent months. Back in July, The Wall Street Journal reported that Meta had reallocated resources from both its Facebook News tab and Bulletin, in order to ‘heighten their focus on building a more robust Creator economy’

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In other words, Reels – Meta’s main investment focus for the future of the Creator Economy is short-form video content, which drives more views, more engagement, and is the big trend that Meta’s chasing right now.

As a result, Meta says that it will shut down Bulletin by early next year.

As per Meta:

“Bulletin has allowed us to learn about the relationship between Creators and their audiences and how to better support them in building their community on Facebook. While this off-platform product itself is ending, we remain committed to supporting these and other Creators’ success and growth on our platform.”

So long as they create Reels, I guess.

Again, the decision here is no surprise, but it does serve as another reminder that Meta chases whatever trends it can, and it has no real, long-term commitment on any of its new pushes.

Video is the thing, as it has been several times before, and Meta will keep pushing that till audiences lose interest. Then it’ll be something else that Meta’s pitching to brands, publishers, users, etc.

Logically, Meta follows the latest trends in order to maximize the benefit of such within its tools. But it is worth noting that, when it does lose interest, it tends to move on entirely, leaving anyone who’s invested in its last whim out in the cold.

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Overall, Bulletin isn’t huge, and it won’t impact a heap of writers and publishers, as such. But even so, for those that have invested in the platform, in good faith, it’s a bitter pill, and while they will now be able to move on to other platforms as well, it’s good to remind yourself that Meta chases trends, and moves on quick.

‘Don’t build on rented land’. ‘Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket’. Don’t trust social platforms to keep supporting that feature or platform that you’ve come to rely on.

The closure of Bulletin may seem like a side note to many, but it’s an important reminder that you need to diversify your strategy to avoid such impacts.

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