Facebook is trying to lure more users to its Oculus headsets by introducing a virtual reality world.
On Wednesday, the company announced Horizon, an animated world of avatars, that will launch for Oculus headsets early next year to a select group of customers. Horizon is reminiscent of the Oasis game in the book “Ready Player One,” where VR users around the globe interact with one another in a virtual world.
“In Horizon you are going to be able to build your own world and experiences, you’re going to be able to play games, you’re going to be able to explore, you’re going to be able to hang out with your friends and meet new people,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the Oculus Connect 6 conference in San Jose, California.
Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, and has since struggled to get market traction beyond a niche audience because of the hefty price of VR headsets and the amount of technology required to use them. Palmer Luckey, Oculus’s founder, was forced out of the company in 2017.
But Facebook continues to invest in Oculus as part of a broader effort to find a foothold in consumer devices and become less reliant on digital ads. The company reportedly gives a copy of “Ready Player One” to every new employee who joins Oculus.
Horizon will have world-building and creating tools, and allow consumers to customize their avatars and build new games inside the virtual world. A preview of Horizon unveiled on Wednesday showed VR users interacting with one another in a colorful animated world with legless avatars, who were shown painting portraits, flying planes through the desert and playing laser tag on the moon.
“This is another step toward building the kind of social infrastructure that we believe will be important in the future,” Zuckerberg said.
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