Meta (Facebook rebranded) has released its social virtual reality space, Horizon Worlds to more users after a year of testing. Horizon Worlds is now open to anyone 18 and older in the US and Canada.
Horizon Worlds launched in beta last year to select Oculus VR users, who answered invitations to join the virtual world. With the announcement, users will no longer need to be invited.
In Horizon Worlds, users of Facebook’s Oculus virtual reality headsets can create a legless avatar to wander in the animated virtual world. There, they can play games and interact with other users’ avatars.
The free to play app lets users build their own mini-games and activities on top of Meta’s base game – similar to Roblox or other creator-focused apps. However, there is no way for creators to make money directly from their worlds.
Instead, Meta has put $10m (£7.6m) into a “creator fund” to reward community creators who win competitions. That is different from apps such as Roblox, where creators can sell their games for in-app currency.
The broader launch of Horizon Worlds is an important step for Facebook, which officially changed its name to Meta in October and announced its plans to “build the metaverse” of connected digital worlds. The company adopted the new name, based on the sci-fi term metaverse, to describe its vision for working and playing in a virtual world.
“Our vision for Horizon Worlds is to bring to life a creator-friendly VR space with best-in-class social world-building tools,” Meta said in its announcement. “And we’ve spent the past year developing those tools and improving them based on creator feedback.”
The creation tools are built directly into the virtual reality game, so players can access them directly without any extra downloads or steps.
Players can fly around their world and place items such as trees or shapes to use as “building blocks” to make a custom digital environment. Then, they can use “scripts” – pre-made snippets of code that affect the world around the player – to set the rules of the game.
The US release of Horizon Worlds comes the day after the announcement that smash hit Among Us is being ported to virtual reality, as well as the surprise release on Friday of a Lady Gaga expansion pack for fan favourite Beat Saber – both announced at the Game Awards on Thursday.