Facebook Announces Beta Launch of ‘Horizon’ VR Social Experience

With virtual reality gradually becoming more mainstream, accelerated by increased take-up amid the COVID-19 lockdowns[1], Facebook has announced[2] that its new social VR experience platform, called ‘Horizon’, is now moving into closed beta.

As you can see from the video, Horizon is essentially a sandbox creation tool for social VR, where users can interact and engage with the virtual environment.

As explained by Facebook[3]:

Horizon invites you to explore an ever-expanding universe of virtual experiences designed and built by the entire community. Everything you see in Horizon, including the Plaza and worlds created by our teams at Facebook, has been built with the Horizon creation tools. In Horizon, you can build the things you want to see and places you want to visit.”

Facebook first announced Horizon at its Oculus Connect event[4] in September last year, where it showcased the first stages of the new platform.

It’s advanced significantly since then, with the new Horizon platform taking over from Facebook ‘Spaces’, its original VR social environment.

And that’s really the key impetus – while the key lure of VR is immersion, Facebook also wants to maintain its social roots in building its VR experience, in order to maximize engagement.

“Horizon is as much about meaningful connections as it is about creating VR worlds and expressing yourself. Eventually, we envision large spaces where many people can gather in Horizon, but for now, up to eight people can share a space.”

So aside from games and cutting edge experiences, which Facebook is also working on[5], Horizon is more about the social aspect, and getting users accustomed to engaging in digital worlds.

That’s the next big step for VR – while it’s cool to see things from the perspective of Darth Vader, the real value of VR will be in collaboration, and providing a platform for people to connect in the digital realm.

That will then lead to new opportunities for, say, workplace collaboration[6], which is likely to become a much bigger element due to the WFH shift, both during and in the wake of COVID-19.

1 2 3 4