Starting Thursday, users from the US and Canada over 18 will be able to access Meta’s VR social platform — Horizon Worlds. The platform requires a Facebook account and lets players hang out with up to 20 people at a time inside a virtual space.
The platform was first announced in September 2019 as an open beta and since then has evolved from a sandboxed environment for building games into more of a social experience. Originally called ‘Horizon’, this is Meta’s first attempt to bring CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse alive.
Horizon Worlds is available for download for free on the Quest 2, and as of January 13, 2022, will drop support for the Quest 1. Meta also announced Arena Clash, a 3v3 laser tag game inside the VR platform alongside new mechanics and templates for creators to help them build their games.
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First steps to the metaverse
Beta testers have already been hosting comedy shows, movie nights, and meditating sessions in the Roblox and OASIS VR meshed together world. The company aims to plug this into Horizon Venues — a standalone VR platform for throwing large events and Horizon Workrooms, a VR work collaboration software.
While there’s no monetisation in Horizon Worlds, since the announcement of their $10 million Creator Fund in October, Meta has launched their first creator competition with cash prizes with winners to be announced later this month.
Users can write basic code in the form of script blocks. Multiple such blocks can be chained together to achieve complex targets. As of now, Meta employees make these script blocks at the community’s request, but the company plans to launch a free library. Another interesting thing to note is that coding for these blocks is done entirely in VR, with plans to allow them to be built from a computer in the future.
Another interesting aspect of the platform is the presence of human guides to greet newcomers. These guides are essentially power users trained by Meta employees in best practices for navigating the virtual world and following its behaviour policies compiled together in their Conduct in VR Policy.
Additionally, the platform features a safe zone that can be instantly accessed using the wrist menu and teleports the player to a personal safe zone where they can take a break and block, mute or report other people.
Send cryptocurrency over Whatsapp
In other news, Whatsapp is now running a pilot program in the US with a limited number of people allowing them to send cryptocurrency over the chat app powered by Novi, Meta’s digital wallet that itself launched as a pilot about six weeks ago.
Payments will be made using Pax Dollars (USDP) — a stablecoin issued by Paxos pegged to the US dollar. Sending a payment will be similar to sending an attachment over the app. The feature is available through the paperclip icon on Android and the plus icon on iOS devices.
According to Novi’s site, there are no fees for sending or receiving money, no limits on the frequency of transactions and no fees to keep the balance in your Novi account or withdraw to a bank account with instant payments.