Meta started a new first party studio to build Horizon Worlds games with early access to the platform's upcoming creator tools.
Currently, Horizon creators have to build worlds entirely inside VR, placing and manipulate primitive colored shapes using the tracked controllers and then using a spatial visual scripting system to add dynamic functionality. But this results in a crude simplistic graphics style that has faced widespread ridicule when seen in screenshots outside VR.
The ability to import models & textures built with professional PC software should enable worlds with significantly improved graphics quality.
Meta isn't yet making the new tools available to general creators though. Instead, the company created a new first party studio called Ouro Interactive and gave it early access to the tools to build what Meta hopes will be content compelling enough to draw new users in to Horizon.
Ouro Interactive's first title is Super Rumble, a free-for-all first person shooter for up to six players out now in Horizon Worlds. Meta actually launched a stealth beta test for Super Rumble back in May, which we noticed, where it was called Titanborne Rumble.
Journalist Janko Roettgers interviewed Meta’s metaverse VP Vishal Shah, who revealed that Super Rumble is just one of many "marquee titles" that will launch on Horizon over the next six months, from both Ouro Interactive and select third party game studios.
“We've really raised the ceiling on what can be built in Horizon in terms of visual complexity, interactivity and fun gameplay.”
“As consumers come to Horizon, we want to make sure there's a bunch of compelling content that they can find on day one.”
- Vishal Shah, Meta’s metaverse VP
A leaked internal Meta memo last year revealed that Shah believed it simply "has not found product market fit". Its competitors Rec Room and VRChat are almost always in the top 5 most popular Quest apps, while Horizon Worlds only makes the top 25.
Meta will be hoping its first and second party content powered by the new creator tools significantly boosts Horizon's popularity in VR. But Meta is also planning to bring Horizon to smartphones, which Rec Room is already on and VRChat is in active development for.
The smartphone version of Horizon was originally supposed to launch last year. But Shah told Roettgers Meta ended up not shipping that version because “It was a little bit too much of a VR game on mobile as opposed to a mobile-native experience.” Meta has now rebuilt the mobile app, he said, and Super Rumble will be one of the first titles on mobile and include cross-play with VR.
Shah maintains that the VR version will still be the primary focus though, even as he expects mobile users to outnumber VR. “We're going from a world where we are VR only to a place where we're going to be VR first,” he said.