Facebook today has announced Facebook Horizon.
It will be a new social world coming to Oculus Quest and the Rift Platform in 2020. A culmination of what they learned about virtual spaces and communities while building various VR apps in the past.
Horizon is the first step into a world of worlds to explore where anything becomes possible. Users interested in early access can apply for the beta here, they will be notified when early in 2020 the beta will start.
Before stepping into Horizon for the first time, people will design their own avatars from an array of style and body options to ensure everyone can fully express their individuality.
From there, magic-like portals — called “**telepods” **— will transport people from public spaces to new worlds filled with adventure and exploration.
At first, people will hop into games and experiences built by Facebook, like Wing Strikers, a multiplayer aerial experience.
Your world, you build together!
People will jump into various other Horizon worlds, built using the World Builder, a collection of easy-to-use creator tools.
Everyone will have the power to build new worlds and activities, from tropical hangout spots to interactive action arenas, all from scratch — no previous coding experience needed.
You will be able to build the worlds together with your friends and you’ll be able to model many things using various shapes. Finally, you will be able to share your world easily with the “telepods” to let other people discover your worlds.
There’s going to be space for artists using the simple tools to model the environments and the developers will be able to use a bit of coding to add custom interactions or behaviours to various objects or elements importing them directly from Unity with a Horizon SDK.
The “Pixar” trailer of Horizon
“Pixar” style in this video is really obvious!
Facebook is going to provide you with tools to control your experience and to be an active part of the community!
You will be able to play with your own safety and limits, you’ll be able to press the Shield button to pause and enter a personal space.
Here you’ll be able to take a moment from other people and the surroundings. You will also get access to your core safety tools no matter where you are in Horizon. Instantly being able to mute, block, or report another toxic player.
You will have to set your personal boundaries which determine how close other players will be to you and your avatar, this will prevent bad behaviours of other people trying to surround you preventing virtual bullying or adding tools like Medical Alerts to help other users as it has already happened in other VR socials apps like VRChat in the past.
What about Oculus Rooms and Facebook Spaces?
Both apps felt like waiting rooms with a few social features that were merely meant as a quick preamble to full-fledged VR apps like BigScreen, a much broader and cross-platform VR meeting app. In contrast, Horizon is designed to be an environment where users could spend tons of time.
The Good and the Dream
Ready Player One and other films or books have been planting in our dreams a vision of what it would look like the future of the Web and the future of social interactions, with vast and diverse Virtual worlds.
In the past many companies tried to build virtual worlds like Playstation Home or Second Life, all of them failed slowly.
Second Life was trying to be the home for everyone but at the end, it became a niche product with a limited amount of player, the same for Home that was limited to the fraction of gamers in the world owning a PS3.
Many other worlds have been built during the last decade for massive multiplayer’s online games that have lasted for more than 15 years like the universe of the World of Warcraft. With those games, the fuel to keep expanding the world was the recurring fees players pay to keep playing.
Horizon will be probably free and Facebook said it’s an enormous endeavour that’s going to be risky but it has to be done.
They are going to fuel the creation of new worlds, helping creators reach brands wanting to create their Horizon world or by showing “telepods” in main areas.
They have been doing similar initiatives with Spak AR for Instagram or building Oculus Start to let new developers be able to develop VR games for the Rift or Quest platforms producing great communities of Makers.
The Bad and the Evil
Do you remember when Facebook announced Free Basics? It was a Facebook-backed initiative that aimed to provide a limited number of Internet sites and services for free to areas of the world where online access is unavailable or virtually nonexistent.
It was banned by the government in India cause it violated Net neutrality by offering only certain Web content for free. The platform “would force other businesses to set up shop on Facebook rather than on their own websites or elsewhere on the internet. This would have given Facebook enormous power over competitors and indeed over the internet.”
Horizon might present the same issue, it will force the user to always remain inside the Horizon worlds, you won’t be able to get out of this universe and you won’t own any of the content you build. You will be part of one of the biggest web metaverse but you will lose your freedom and lose the possibility to own what you build.
Studying the trends of Facebook products, even if they all started without advertisements, gradually each one of them acquired Ads systems to show users tons of various banners or ads, trying to get money from brands for every single people they would like to reach and the same is going to happen with Horizon.
Do you want to let 1000 people see your world in the next 24 hours? Please click here and give us 100$! Want to showcase a small banner to Asian Catholic Tall users in your area for your new world? Add 50 dollars here and there!
Facebook Horizon will be a unique universe,
Our hope has to be that it won’t be our only one left to explore…
The good recap:
- Horizon is an enormous project but Facebook will invest an important amount of capital to achieve this dream;
- Facebook has been supporting creators in many of its ventures and it will probably help creators in Horizon too bringing new opportunities or funding.
The bad recap:
- Horizon will be a Facebook product, you will get it for free but you will become the product yourself, being surrounded by ads or other sponsored content like in the film Ralph Breaks the Internet;
- You won’t own your own built worlds, no export button;
- You’ll be contained in a single metaverse, no doors to get out and be free.
The Horizon beta will open early next year. Sign up at oculus.com/facebookhorizon/sign-up to be notified when the beta opens up. Will you be part of Horizon beta?
I will join and explore Horizon, maybe with you in the future.