Meta’s Social VR Platform Now Coming to Every Country Supporting Quest

Meta’s social VR platform Horizon Worlds hasn’t been available to everyone, with the company restricting the app’s use to only a few countries. Now it’s rightfully rolling out to every region where Quest is supported.

Despite being available on the web since last January, geolocation restrictions only allowed Quest users access in select countries, which included Canada, France, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Meta today announced that starting this week the company will begin rolling out Horizon Worlds “to people in all Meta Quest markets in supported languages so more people can connect with each other around the globe.”

This includes access for users 13+ across the following Quest-supported regions: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Users must be 14+ in South Korea and Spain.

This comes as the company ostensibly seeks to promote Horizon Worlds as a more fundamental social layer to its rapidly growing platform, which is soon set to include third-party VR headsets for the first time.

Horizon Worlds will come part and parcel with Horizon OS (ex-Quest OS) and the Horizon Store (ex-Quest Store), which will be available on Quest-like headsets built by ASUS, Lenovo and Xbox.

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Meta is Testing ‘Instant Replay’ Feature in ‘Horizon Worlds’ to Make Social VR More Viral

Meta announced it’s bringing an ‘Instant Replay’ feature to Horizon Worlds, which will let world creators and visitors capture their antics without having to hit ‘record’ on their cameras.

The feature, which is currently in early access on Horizon Worlds v157, can be enabled by individual world creators, letting anyone in that specific social VR room automatically capture video and share via the media gallery. Meta says it’s specifically built to keep users from disrupting the moment by pausing to open the camera and manually pressing record.

Before entering a world, users will be able to see whether the creator has enabled the Instant Replay via a new camera icon on the world’s page. Once you’ve popped in, you’ll also get a notification in your inbox. Users can opt-out of automatically recording with Instant Replay, although it doesn’t mean you won’t be recorded by someone else, Meta warns.

The v157 update to Horizon Worlds comes amid a larger push by the company to compete with other social VR platforms, including Rec Room, VRChat, and Roblox, all of which not only had early leads in the space, but included a heavy focus on user-generated content.

Meta’s game of catchup largely started in earnest last year when the company announced it was set to officially open the platform to kids ages 13+, later expanding the app to support flatscreen play via web and mobile devices. Then, late last year, the company released a number of first-party mini-games in further efforts to increase user retention.

While Instant Replay may not push active user numbers in Horizon Worlds over the top with promises of greater virality, it may prove to be a valuable testing ground for the feature across its family of Quest devices; for now, the quickest and easiest way to record footage on Quest is to quickly tap the Meta button on your right controller and pull the trigger will allow you to start and stop a video capture.

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Live Action VR Series ‘The Faceless Lady’ Debuts in ‘Horizon Worlds’ Next Month

There are plenty of live action VR videos out there, but most are fairly short, based entirely around sports, or other things… Coming soon to Meta Horizon Worlds on Quest is a VR horror series called The Faceless Lady, which is bringing six half-hour episodes in stereoscopic 3D.

In partnership with Meta, and created by Crypt TV, ShinAwiL, and Eli Roth, The Faceless Lady is inspired by the real life seventeenth century Irish folklore of Lady Margaret Hodnett, who is said to haunt Belvelly Castle in Cork stalking visitors through mirrors and reflective surfaces.

The creators say the myth was adapted for modern day “with a supernatural twist” following three couples who have been invited to a medieval castle in Ireland for a weekend competition where they will either win her games or lose their lives. Check out the trailer below:

The horror series will premiere in VR with the first two episodes on Thursday, April 4th at 5:00 PM PT in Meta Horizon Worlds (local time here). You can RSVP here and sign up for notifications for then it goes live.

You’ll also be able to catch it on demand in VR on Meta Quest TV, as well as on flatscreen via Crypt TV’s Facebook page in when they premiere in VR.

Starring alongside Tara Lee (The Fall) and Staz Nair (Rebel Moon), The Faceless Lady cast includes Daisy Jelley (How To Date Billy Walsh), Mei Henri (Hijack), Ugo Onwughalu, Sophie Rebecca-Jones, and Ned Dennehy (Peaky Blinders).

Produced by Crypt TV in partnership with Meta, the team bringing this immersive format for storytelling to life in VR includes executive producers Jack Davis and Darren Brandl (The Girl in the Woods) for Crypt TV, Eli Roth (Thanksgiving), and Larry Bass and Aaron Farrel of ShinAwiL. VR production services were rendered by Light Sail VR and co-executive producers Robert Watts and Matt Celia.

Crypt TV is also known for the Meta VR special TRICK-VR-TREAT from writer-director Eli Roth, which won a Webby Award for Best Narrative Experience in the new ‘Metaverse, Immersive & Virtual’ category.

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Meta Finally Lets Users Appeal Bans in Social VR App ‘Horizon Worlds’

Meta announced it’s finally giving Horizon Worlds users the ability to file an appeal when suspected of breaking the social VR app’s Code of Conduct.

It’s been nearly three years since Meta first released Horizon Worlds in open beta, however now the company has pushed its v149 update which includes the ability to file an appeal when restrictions are placed on their profile for suspected ‘Code of Conduct for Virtual Experiences’ violations.

The company’s virtual Code of Conduct specifies that users can’t do things like promote anything designed to deceive other users, things that are illegal, abusive or could lead to physical harm, spam others for stuff like commercial services, goods or requests, or engage in or share sexually explicit or excessively violent behavior or content in public areas.

Meta says in a blog post that users can now submit a request by going to ‘Account Status’ to view any restrictions added to your profile for Code of Conduct for Virtual Experiences violations. Now you’ll be able to submit your request via the link provided in the warning or notice of suspension email.

Additionally, Meta says it’s changing how it handles Code of Conduct breakers. Suspects will have their microphones temporarily muted, and they could also temporarily lose access to some Quest features including Chats, Groups, and Calls, in addition to general access to Worlds. Severe or continuous violations may result in your Horizon profile being disabled along with your Meta account, Meta says.

Over the last year, Meta has focused on Horizon Worlds in effort to increase user retention. Starting in summer last year, Meta introduced its initial slate of first-party content with hero shooter Super Rumble and co-op adventure Citadel. The company has since released Horizon Worlds support for flatscreen devices, including Android and web browsers.

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Meta Releases ‘Citadel’ Co-op VR Adventure, Its Second Marquee Title in ‘Horizon Worlds’

In late July, Meta introduced a hero shooter called Super Rumble’ to Horizon Worlds, aiming to improve user retention on its social VR platform with the promise of higher quality first-party content. Now Meta released its second big anchor minigame on Horizon Worlds, a co-op adventure game called ‘Citadel’.

Citadel is what Meta calls a “rogue-lite action-adventure puzzle platformer FPS,” offering up both solo and co-op play.

Here’s how Meta describes the action:

Combining combat, puzzle-solving, and skillful gameplay, each room in Citadel gives players a new challenge to overcome. With numerous hidden secrets to uncover across 30 rooms, Citadel offers a wealth of content to explore. And after completing the game in Casual mode, those up for an additional challenge can take on Veteran mode for an even greater sense of achievement (and additional bragging rights).

As you infiltrate the citadel, find hidden relics, and eliminate enemy forces, you’ll unlock weapons and rewards and earn credit to buy new armor with unique stats to upgrade your hit points, number of lives, and speed. Mix and match helmets and torso armors at will to fully customize your gameplay experience.

Stocking Horizon Worlds with higher quality content has only been one piece of Meta’s user retention puzzle. Back in April, the company announced it was set to officially open the platform to kids ages 13+. Meta has also recently begun a closed beta for Android users, opening the platform to non-VR devices for the first time.

The company says it’s hoping to open Horizon Worlds to iOS devices and standard web browsers too at some point, which could help the platform gain greater traction amid some already fairly fierce competition. This comes as Meta opened Quest up the online gaming powerhouse Roblox, joining popular social VR platforms Rec Room, VRChat, and Gym Class on the Quest platform.

Meta Avatars Finally Get Legs on Quest

Meta released a Quest software update via its public test channel (PTC), which lets users opt-in to try new features before they’re pushed out to everyone. Among the v57 PTC update is a feature that’s been notably missing from Meta avatars: legs.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised at Connect 2022 that its avatars would eventually be getting legs, putting an end to the platform’s characteristic floating torsos at some point in the not-too-distant future. At the time, Zuckerberg showed off his on-stage avatar jumping and kicking, although it was revealed later this was actually created using some fairly common external motion capture tech.

In short, Quest can’t track legs yet, which means the v57 PTC update is packing a pretty standard implementation of inverse kinematics (IK), resulting in the sort of body positioning guesswork you see in apps like VR Chat. Still, nice to see a full body in Quest Home for once, right?

X (formerly Twitter) user Lunayian shows off the new avatar legs after installing the v57 PTC update.

YouTuber and tech analyst Brad Lynch also tried out the new legs, showing off some of the limitations currently. Notably, you won’t see your avatar’s legs when looking down directly at them—they’re only viewable via the mirror, and ostensibly by other users—and the IK system still doesn’t account for crouching.

According to data mined by X user NyaVR, the v57 PTC update also includes the ability to enable and disable the avatar mirror, a new Horizon Worlds Portal in home, an Airplane Mode, and an Extended Battery Mode.

The comes alongside a wider push to attract more users to Horizon Worlds, as Meta recently took its first steps of ending Quest-exclusivity for the social VR app with the launch of a closed beta on Android mobile devices. It’s also set to arrive on standard PC browsers too at some point.

Additionally, Meta seems to also be investing more in first-party content for Horizon Worlds, having released Super Rumble late last month, a hero shooter which feels more in line with the sort of sticky content that ought to attract and bring users back more regularly.

We’re sure to learn more about Quest software features and Horizon Worlds stuff at the company’s annual Connect developer conference, which takes place September 27th.

‘Horizon Worlds’ to Launch on iOS in “coming weeks”, Beta Now Available on Web & Android

Meta’s social VR platform took a big step outside of Quest-exclusivity late last month, as the company launched a closed beta for Horizon Worlds on standard web browsers and Android. A version for iOS is now confirmed to arrive in “the coming weeks.”

Update (September 15th, 2023): Meta announced that in addition to rolling out early access version of Horizon Worlds on Android and web browsers, that iOS access is due to arrive in “the coming weeks.” For now, iOS users can play via Safari, however it seems the company is also set to include access directly in-app, as with the Android version. Access is still invite-only, which you can sign up for here.

The same country restrictions apply, only allowing access in the following regions: Canada, France, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The previous version of the article below incorrectly stated that the browser version wasn’t available yet, however it actually arrived during the launch of Android access late last month. This has been updated in the body.

Original Article (August 28th, 2023): You won’t find Horizon Worlds on Google Play. Users taking part in the closed beta can directly launch the app through the Quest Android app. It’s also available through web browsers on both mobile and desktop. On desktop, Meta recommends Google Chrome, Safari, and Microsoft Edge, and says Firefox is currently not supported.

X (formerly Twitter) user Lunayian was apparently one of those chosen few, showing off a brief hands-on in the Super Rumble lobby, Meta’s first-party hero shooter revealed late last month.

At the time of this writing, the standard geolocation restrictions are still in effect for Horizon Worlds, with only users in the following countries able to access the platform: Canada, France, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

When it does roll out to more locations and platforms though, it will be better positioned to actually compete with the most successful metaverse apps, such as Rec Room, Roblox, and VR Chat, all of which have benefited from releasing on essentially every major platform worldwide—VR headsets and traditional platforms included. Undoubtedly, Meta is looking to replicate this success with Horizon Worlds, as it is now offering up better (and decidedly more sticky) first-party content like Super Rumble.

We’re sure to learn more about new Horizon Worlds features at the company’s annual Connect developer conference soon, which takes place September 27th, steaming both online and in-person for a select few at the company’s Menlo Park headquarters.

Meta’s New First-person Shooter Aims to Highlight Improvements to ‘Horizon Worlds’

Meta introduced a new game called ‘Super Rumble‘ to Horizon Worlds, something the company hopes will showcase a new generation of improved experiences on its own social VR platform.

Released after a successful beta weekend in May, the free-for-all first-person shooter is said to highlight new improvements to Horizon Worlds, such as “better graphics, deeper gameplay, and a variety of quests and rewards.”

Players can choose from six superpowers before each session, allowing them to outmaneuver opponents and develop their playstyles. Here’s how Meta describes each power:

  • Super Dash gives you super speed
  • Super Jump lets you launch into the air with explosive force
  • Super Ammo saves you from having to reload
  • Super Tough reduces the damage you’ll take from each hit
  • Super Net lets you immobilize other players
  • Super Punch lets you attack with a powerful punch

Super Rumble is aiming to offer a fast-paced experience, which serves up to two to six players, with each match lasting five minutes. The game also serves as a launching point for a new integrated system of player levels, quests, rewards, the latter of which includes avatar clothing, emotes, and nameplate titles.

Check out the action below:

We’ve seen a few first-party worlds alongside a number of third-party brand engagement experiences on Horizon Worlds since the platform launched in late 2021, however going the ‘full featured’ minigame route is a fairly recent move that has more potential to attract and keep users. It’s certainly helped Rec Room to become one of the most prolific social VR platforms to thrive on both VR headsets and traditional flatscreen devices.

Interestingly enough, this comes only one day after Meta opened Quest up the online gaming powerhouse Roblox, which is in direct competition with Horizon Worlds. Now, Quest users can choose between Roblox, Rec Room, VRChat, Horizon Worlds, and Gym Class to name a few of the top free social VR platforms.

‘Roblox’ Launches on Quest Store, Casting a Shadow on Meta’s Own Social VR Platform

One of the biggest names in social gaming is now officially on the official Quest Store, launching out of App Lab starting today. Roblox is home to tens of millions of daily users and user-generated experiences, casting a clear shadow on Meta’s own social VR platform, Horizon Worlds.

Update (September 27th, 2023): CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Roblox will be available on the official Quest Store starting today, coming out of its two months on App Lab. The company says that you can purchase items within an experience, you won’t be able to buy additional Robux from your Quest device. This functionality is on the way, Meta says. The original article follows below:

Original Article (July 12th, 2023):

A Curious Proposition

Meta confirmed today that Roblox is coming to Quest “in the coming weeks” starting as an Open Beta on App Lab before eventually graduating to a full launch on the main Quest store.

On one hand, the move is a win for Meta. Roblox is one of the most popular social gaming and user-generated content platforms; playing in a similar ballpark with the likes of Minecraft and Fortnite. Getting Roblox onto Quest brings a valuable and recognizable IP to the platform, along with a huge new social graph of non-VR players.

On the other hand, Roblox is very nearly a direct competitor to Meta’s own social VR platform, Horizon Worlds. Both Horizon and Roblox are heavily focused on social experiences and user-generated content. But compared to Horizon, which caters only to the smaller demographic of VR players, Roblox has some 66 million daily active players across Xbox, iOS, Android, desktop—and soon, Quest.

For comparison, that means the number of people playing Roblox every day (66 million) is more than the total number of Quest headsets ever sold (believed to be around 20 million).

So ambitious creators looking to build content for the largest audience (and largest return-on-investment) will see the scale tipped vastly toward Roblox over Horizon.

Whether or not Roblox on Quest will stifle the fledgling Horizon remains to be seen, but needless to say this is an awkward situation. Not just for Meta though; Roblox also represents a looming threat to other social VR applications like VRChat and Rec Room.

Roblox Content Compatibility on Quest

Roblox currently has some 15 million playable experiences for users to choose from, but not all (probably not most) will be suitable to play on Quest.

Meta says the Roblox Open Beta on Quest is a “great opportunity for the Roblox developer community to optimize their existing games for Quest and build new ones for VR while gathering input and feedback from the Quest community.”

That said, Roblox Corp plans to automatically enable VR support for some portion of existing Roblox experiences, though exactly how many is unclear.

“[…] we have automatically updated the Access setting for some of the experiences that use default player scripts to include support for VR devices. We have found that experiences that use default player scripts typically run well in VR without modifications. Automatically publishing these experiences allows us to seed our library of experiences that support VR devices,” the company says in its announcement of Roblox on Quest.

Presently it isn’t clear if or how the company plans to ensure that user-generated Roblox experiences on meet minimum performance expectations on Quest.

Modernized PC VR Support for Roblox

Roblox has offered PC VR support for many years at this point and the company appears committed to continue supporting the platform in addition to Quest.

Less than a month ago Roblox Corp announced that it would adopt OpenXR to future-proof its VR support, including for PC VR headsets. The update also included improvements to correctly synchronizing the player’s VR playspace and scale to that of the current experience.

Additional reporting by Scott Hayden