I’m used to tech giants having mishaps. And at big press conferences, they show bad ideas with pomp. Facebook Horizon is one of them. Imagine a virtual world that you enter as a cartoon character. You can do anything. Costs? Now add a VR headset on your head to this image.
Discussions about the usefulness of virtual reality have been going on for a long time. The level of involvement of producers or the number of games available show that interest is not collapsing, but growing. But having to buy expensive gear, wear it on your head, and deal with your maze issues (and some with nausea!) is a big hurdle.
I’m part of the group that believes virtual reality can be great entertainment. I’ve used a lot of VR games on PlayStation 4 and the experience is unbeatable. For me, there is no problem with the maze or the stomach – but I still don’t think this entertainment is fun every day. Why?
Because it is not without reason that video games are generally the most popular and affordable. At your fingertips, forcing you to start your computer or unlock your cell phone. Wearing big glasses, which physically cut us off from the world, just doesn’t fit with this simple entertainment. And on top of that, what Horizon is supposed to offer.
Sky is the limit
On the trailer, not children, not teenagers, but definitely adults playing around in the colorful world, flying in planes, painting pictures, sightseeing. A red light flashes in my head.
First, Facebook is creating the illusion, which I know well, that you can do pretty much anything in this game. We won’t say it outright, but the trailer is supposed to hint that it’s going to be a virtual life, without limits. As a player, I know from experience that the limits are always there. Either you have to buy something or you have to run something separately. Either we are limited by an area, by the edge of the board or by the invisible walls. Or we do what the game developers have put in place.
The second thing. Having opportunities is a short-sighted tactic. There must be mechanisms that will stop us there. Going around in circles may not be enough. And players have repeatedly shown that productions without good content will quickly become empty.
Example “Second Life”
It’s not that people don’t need virtual lives. The “The Sims” series, whose unfailing popularity for 20 years (4 parts and several dozen add-ons) is a phenomenon for sure. But there are a lot of game mechanics in “The Sims”.
They were fewer in the production of “Second Life”. This bizarre digital sandbox was actually a virtual equivalent of life. Rather ugly, not very intuitive – and yet it “crashed”. Hundreds of thousands of people sat there and spent a lot of money on accessories. To feel cooler, to present yourself well in front of your friends.
But in its somewhat primitive formula, “Second Life” really allowed a lot. We could have a villa with a pool, expensive clothes, and visit the town where our avatar danced with the others in the club. You can laugh at “no-lives”, people who pass their time in a fictional world. But millions of accounts showed there was a real need. And not just among avid gamers.
So maybe Facebook Horizon makes sense?
So far, Facebook has shown very little of its game. But the materials presented do not encourage me at all – neither as a consumer nor as a virtual reality commentator, aware of the needs of others in the gaming world. And it’s not just about the aforementioned limitations.
“Second Life” really gave huge opportunities, because it was created in different eras. Back then, technology was easier to master and games were created less under the dictates of a team of market analysts. He gave freedom as “Sims”.
But most importantly – he was on the computer. Oculus Quest glasses cost more than 2200 PLN. This is the first barrier. The other runs through our minds. And in your hands, because you also need two controllers to play. Lazy, casual gaming doesn’t go hand in hand with a headset on your head – and I doubt that will change anytime soon.
And finally – I don’t believe in the form of communication being promoted either. Keyboard chat was perfect. Voice chat also works as a background for activities done or active during a specific game with friends. But conversations between avatars? With a helmet on your head? With family and friends right next door? It doesn’t seem natural.
However, I cross my fingers for such a development of the project so that it is not an empty shell with catchy ideas. And also for the moderation system, which won’t kill creativity, but won’t allow you to mock strangers or draw swastikas on the walls.