Meta announced Tuesday that it will no longer allow creators to create dedicated events using its Horizon Worlds virtual reality playscape. The announcement was made as part of Meta’s platform v109 update. This is a shocking end to a feature some creators had hoped would be improved in the future.
In March I published about Horizon Worlds Creators who run a in-VR Comedy Club called the Unknown Theater and how they organized VR protests over Meta’s handling of events on its platform. The protestors were upset by changes to Meta that made it harder to find community-organized events, which is a problem for their regularly scheduled shows. They also criticized the fact that Meta gave greater prominence to events with big-name stars, like Carrie Underwood.
Richard Slixton told me in this article that “it’s super frustrating, and disheartening” as a host. Slixton is a stand-up comic who hosts his comedy open mics at Horizon. You go through this effort just to build the universe. It takes a lot of time and requires you to acquire new skills. You’ll also have to put the event together. “Most creators will put on the event, but they won’t get anyone there, because they have no way of getting noticed.”
It’s going to be a lot harder for creators, as they won’t be able to create events after Tuesday. Existing events scheduled for Tuesday will continue to happen. Some “official events” will be promoted.
It’s obvious that our current event system doesn’t meet the needs of our entire community.
Meta positions the change as a shutdown of a feature which doesn’t meet their standards. Meta stated in its v109 release notes that “as we refocused development in Worlds to improve the overall quality, we took time to revisit some legacy features which are not quite meeting our renewed quality standards.” As part of this, we have made the difficult decision of discontinuing the event creation tool.
This change will be even more difficult for those who have invested in Meta’s metaverse. The road ahead is difficult enough given that you can only access Horizon Worlds using Meta’s Quest headsets. (Meta is developing web and mobile versions but they are not yet available) and the platform struggles in order to retain its relatively few users. Unknown Theater, too, is expanding its horizons. Simon Josh Abramovitch tells while Unknown Theater will continue to host shows in Horizon Worlds it’s also extending into Flipside Studio a platform which lets creators stream VR shows.
Meta, despite what it may appear to be, is committed to the metaverse. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared 2023 the “year of efficiency”. However, the company stated in April that they expect operating losses in its Reality Labs Division to increase over the course of 2023 .