Facebook announced on Thursday that Horizon Worlds, its virtual reality world of avatars, will be open to anyone 18 and above in the United States and Canada.
Last year, Horizon Worlds was released in beta to a restricted group of Oculus VR users who responded to invites to join the virtual world. Users will no longer need to be invited after Thursday’s announcement.
Horizon Worlds’ wider rollout is a significant step forward for Facebook, which changed its name to Meta in October. To represent its vision for working and playing in a virtual world, the corporation created the new moniker, which is based on the sci-fi word metaverse.
Users of Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality headsets can design a legless avatar to stroll around in the animated virtual environment in Horizon Worlds. They can play games and engage with the avatars of other individuals there.
Facebook paid $2 billion for Oculus in 2014, but the company has failed to gain market traction beyond a limited demographic since then. However, the corporation has prioritised developing metaverse-related technology, goods, and services.
In July, Facebook announced the launch of a team to work on the metaverse, led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, the current head of the hardware division, was promoted to chief technology officer two months later, with a start date of 2022. In addition, the firm revealed in its third-quarter earnings results in October that the Reality Labs hardware division will be separated into its own reporting section in the fourth quarter.
In October, Facebook said that it would invest $10 billion over the following year developing metaverse technologies.
“Our hope is that within the next decade, the metaverse will reach a billion people, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and support jobs for millions of creators and developers,” Zuckerberg wrote in October.
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