Meta will no longer let creators using its Horizon Worlds social VR playscape make dedicated events, the company announced as part of the platform’s v109 update notes on Tuesday. It’s a surprising shutdown of a feature that some creators hoped would someday see improvements.
In March, I published a story about Horizon Worlds creators who run an in-VR comedy club, the Unknown Theater, and how they organized a VR protest over Meta’s treatment of events on the platform. The protestors took issue with changes that made community-organized events much more challenging to find, which poses a problem for the club’s regularly-scheduled shows, and the way Meta gave more prominence to high-profile events featuring big name stars like Carrie Underwood.
“It’s super frustrating and disheartening, is the way I would put it as a host,” Richard Slixton, a stand-up comedian who hosts his own comedy open mics in Horizon, told me for that piece. “You go through all this effort to build the world. That takes hours and hours, and you’ve got to learn new skills. Then, you’ve got to go through the effort of putting the event together. Most creators, they put the event together, they won’t even get anybody there because there’s no way to get noticed at all.”
Well, that’s about to get a lot more difficult, because as of Tuesday, creators can’t make events. Existing events that are scheduled to take place after Tuesday can still happen, and some “official events” (presumably Meta-backed ones) will still be promoted, but users can’t make new ones.
it’s clear that our current events system isn’t living up to the needs of our community at large
Meta is positioning the change as the shutdown of a feature that doesn’t meet its standards. “As we’ve refocused our development in Worlds toward improving the overall quality of the platform, we’ve taken time to also revisit some legacy features that aren’t quite living up to our renewed quality standards,” Meta wrote in its v109 update notes. “As part of this effort, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue the event creation tool in Worlds.” In a Discord post, Meta also noted that “it’s clear that our current events system isn’t living up to the needs of our community at large.” (I’ve included the full Discord announcement at the end of this post.)
The change to events will make things even more challenging for creators who are investing in Meta’s metaverse vision. That road is already hard enough, given you can only use Horizon Worlds with Meta’s Quest VR headsets (Meta is working on web and mobile versions, but they’re not here yet) and the platform’s struggles to retain the relatively few users it has. Even the Unknown Theater is broadening its horizons (pun intended); Simon Josh Abramovitch, one of the club’s co-owners, tells The Verge that while Unknown Theater plans to continue hosting shows in Horizon Worlds, it’s also expanding into Flipside Studio, a platform that lets creators livestream VR shows.
But despite how things may seem, Meta is still committed to the metaverse. Though Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has proclaimed 2023 to be the “year of efficiency,” the company said in April that it expects operating losses for its Reality Labs division to increase year over year in 2023.
Here’s Meta’s full Discord announcement about the changes to events.
An update on event creation in Meta Horizon Worlds As we’ve refocused our development in Worlds toward improving the overall quality of the platform, we’ve taken added time to revisit some legacy features that are not living up to our renewed quality standards.
As part of this effort, we’ve made the decision to discontinue the event creation tool. As of today, May 9th, you will no longer see the option to create events in Worlds. Any existing events that were already scheduled to occur after today can still go on as planned.
While events have been a powerful way for some of you to connect with your engaged communities, we’ve also heard your feedback. It’s clear that our current events system isn’t living up to the needs of our community at large, so we’re making the tough decision to discontinue this feature in Worlds. It is too early for us to say what the long term future holds for creator events in Worlds, but when we have more to share, our creators will be the first to know.
As an embodied and synchronous space, we continue to envision Worlds as a place where people can come together, whether spontaneously or at coordinated places and times, to have amazing experiences with their communities. Although the event creation tool is going away, you’ll continue to see some official events featured in the UI. Over time, we’ll continue to test and learn from these events, which may help to inform what the future holds for events more broadly.
Thank you for everything you do to help make Worlds the vibrant place it is today.