Leaked Internal Memos from Meta Detail Problems with Horizon Worlds and Horizon Workrooms

Yesterday, Alex Heath of the tech news website The Verge covered the current state of Meta’s social VR sister platforms, Horizon Worlds (for consumers) and Horizon Workrooms (for business users), and things are not looking good.

In the article, titled Meta’s flagship metaverse app is too buggy and employees are barely using it, says exec in charge, Alex quotes at length from internal memos sent around the company by executives such as Vishal Shah, Meta’s Vice President of Metaverse, which detail the many quality assurance issues plaguing the products.

In one of the memos to employees dated September 15th, Meta’s VP of Metaverse, Vishal Shah, said the team would remain in a “quality lockdown” for the rest of the year to “ensure that we fix our quality gaps and performance issues before we open up Horizon to more users.”

It would appear that there are numerous bugs in the software:

“But currently feedback from our creators, users, playtesters, and many of us on the team is that the aggregate weight of papercuts, stability issues, and bugs is making it too hard for our community to experience the magic of Horizon. Simply put, for an experience to become delightful and retentive, it must first be usable and well crafted.”

OUCH. Even worse, it would appear that many of the people building the product are not using it very much (known as “eating your own dogfood”, or “dogfooding”):

A key issue with Horizon’s development to date, according to Shah’s internal memos, is that the people building it inside Meta appear to not be using it that much. “For many of us, we don’t spend that much time in Horizon and our dogfooding dashboards show this pretty clearly,” he wrote to employees on September 15th. “Why is that? Why don’t we love the product we’ve built so much that we use it all the time? The simple truth is, if we don’t love it, how can we expect our users to love it?”

In a follow-up memo dated September 30th, Shah said that employees still weren’t using Horizon enough, writing that a plan was being made to “hold managers accountable” for having their teams use Horizon at least once a week. “Everyone in this organization should make it their mission to fall in love with Horizon Worlds. You can’t do that without using it. Get in there. Organize times to do it with your colleagues or friends, in both internal builds but also the public build, so you can interact with our community.”

It’s never a good sign when you have to basically ORDER your employees to use a product that they are building, is it? The article goes on to say:

He went on to call out specific issues with Horizon, writing that “our onboarding experience is confusing and frustrating for users” and that the team needed to “introduce new users to top-notch worlds that will ensure their first visit is a success.”

Shah said the teams working on Horizon needed to collaborate better together and expect more changes to come. “Today, we are not operating with enough flexibility,” his memo reads. “I want to be clear on this point. We are working on a product that has not found product market fit. If you are on Horizon, I need you to fully embrace ambiguity and change.”

I wonder if part of the problem is that there is such a large team working on Horizon Worlds and Horizon Workrooms, part of a large multinational corporation, with all the bureaucracy that such an organization entails. In addition, there have been rumours of turmoil and turnover in Meta’s staffing, with a number of senior executive departures, such as Vivek Sharma, the former Vice President of Meta Horizon, who left in August 2022. You might remember the kerfuffle when Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg tweeted out a lacklustre picture to promote Horizon World’s expansion into France and Spain (which you can see in the screen capture of Alex’s article above; I wrote about it here). Meta then had to scramble to assure people that they were working on improving the graphics within its social VR platforms.

Well, at the upcoming Meta Connect 2022 conference, to be held on October 11th, many will tune in to see how Mark and his executive team are going to spin what clearly are some serious development problems with their social VR platforms.

UPDATED: Sansar Launches a New Homepage (and an Age 18+ Rating)

If you visit the Sansar homepage (and you’re not already signed in with your Sansar account), you will see a brand new, revamped homepage for the five-year-old social VR project:

One noticeable change is the “18+” logo prominently displayed, something which I do not remember seeing before. Wasn’t the age limit formerly 13+? I can’t recall, but I was pretty sure that teenagers were allowed onto Sansar, back in the days when naked base humanoid avatars were forbidden (you had to have baked-on underwear, or your avatar would be removed from the Sansar store).

So, it would appear that the new owners of Sansar are going to allow adult content. This would probably give them an advantage, in that few other social VR platforms currently allow adult content. Let me disgress by explaining how Second Life (Sansar’s predecessor in many ways) handles adult content.


BACKGROUNDER: In Second Life, they have a system where a sim (the basic parcel of virtual land) has one of three ratings:

  • General: “A region designated General is not allowed to advertise or make available content or activity that is sexually explicit, violent, or depicts nudity. Sexually-oriented objects such as “sex beds” or poseballs may not be located or sold in General regions.”
  • Moderate: “Second Life’s Moderate designation accommodates most of the non-adult activities common in Second Life. Dance clubs, bars, stores and malls, galleries, music venues, beaches, parks, and other spaces for socializing, creating, and learning all support a Moderate designation so long as they do not host publicly promoted adult activities or content and do not use adult search tags.”
  • Adult: “The Adult designation applies to Second Life regions that host, conduct, or display content that is sexually explicit, intensely violent, or depicts illicit drug use.”

While generally, Second Life is meant for people age 18 and up, in special cases, those age 13-17 can get in. Those 16 and 17 years old are restricted to sims rated General, while those age 13-15 “can access Second Life through an affiliated organization and will be restricted to the private estate of that organization.” Also, for those 13-15, older SL users won’t be able to access these private estates, except for pre-approved adults affiliated with the organization (e.g. teachers). This is intended to create a safe space for young teens, separate from adult areas.


So, it will be interesting to see whether Sansar will hold to a firm 18+ age rating, as I suspect, or if (like Second Life) they will set up some sort of system to gate-keep adult content, thereby allowing those users under the age of 18 some limited access.

Back in 2019, I wrote an entire editorial about adult content and social VR, which you can read here. Much of what I wrote then still applies today, particularly that adult content can be a double-edged sword! However, if managed properly, it can add life ( and longevity) to a metaverse platform. Whether you like it or not, sex sells!

What do you think? Please sound off in the comments, or join us in the RyanSchultz.com Discord, where over 700 people representing various social VR platforms (and flatscreen virtual worlds, too!) meet to discuss, debate, and argue about the ever-evolving metaverse and the companies building it. More information here.

UPDATE Oct. 5th, 2022: I have been informed by a Sansar staff member:

Just a small clarification, we are adult only but without NSFW content, so it’s still safe for [a] professional or academic setting.

So it would appear that I was wrong in assuming that Sansar will permit adult content. I stand corrected! The staff member, EvoAv, goes on to tell me:

A lot of other things fall under [the] 18+ category, and mixing adult users with teenagers/kids has potential issues of its own. Our users have been predominantly adults throughout Sansar’s history, so we do not see this as a limitation, but more of a safeguard that will allow us to introduce content geared towards adults, just not NSFW, or at least give us the option to change our minds later if we want to allow NSFW content with some moderation in the future.

screen capture from the new Sansar homepage

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Free Hair Buns!

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha’ penny,
Two ha’ penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

English Nursery Rhyme, 1700s

I haven’t been blogging as much as I like lately, mainly because of how busy I am at my full-time paying job as a university librarian, and I know that there are lots of news and events happening out there in the metaverse which I am not reporting on!

Lately when I come home from work, I am exhausted, and my favourite means of relaxing and unwinding is, of course, Second Life, where I continue to scour the grid for fabulous freebies. (Remember that most of them I do not blog about here, but I do post notices to my in-world group, the RyanSchultz.com Steals, Deals & Freebies group!)

I am currently working on a special project with my fellow freebie fashionistas of the Freebie Queens Discord server, where we are drawing up a comprehensive listing of SL stores with free gifts. And it was while I was checking through a first draft of this list that I came across a wonderful freebie: a fatpack of hair buns! These buns come in a wide variety of high-quality hair textures, and have a natural, relaxed (some would say, messy) look to them. I think they’re perfect, and best of all, they’re completely FREE!

It’s part of a collection of previous group gifts offered by L’Etre/Doux. All you have to do is teleport into their store (SLURL), join the L’Etre group for free, and then click on the image of the gift box shown below to receive the package:

The gift box contains many items—earrings, chokers, eyeshadow, face glitter, even a witch’s hat!—but I want to focus on the set of unrigged hair buns by Doux. These hair buns come with 7 different HUDs, each with 18 different textures:

  • blacks and whites;
  • blondes;
  • brunettes;
  • fades;
  • naturals;
  • pastels and ombres; and
  • reds.

Please note that the hairbases are not included, but you usually already have several sets with the Bento mesh heads you purchase or get as gifts, such as this lovely Lilly head, a previous Christmastime group gift from LeLutka:

And because they are adjustable (unfortunately, not resizable), you can easily use them with hats and caps, as I did with this Catwa HDPRO mesh head (again, another previous gift):

Of course, these buns are unisex, so you can rock a manbun as you gallivant around the grid if you so desire! This avatar is wearing a Catwa head with a classic Bakes on Mesh female hairbase I pulled from the LeLutka Lilly gift head:

If you are looking for free hairbases to use with these buns, the No Match hair store in SL has you covered! Just visit the store and look for two gift boxes on the ground (exact SLURL):

These boxes are free, and you do not need to join a group to purchase them. One box contains classic hairbases for a full range of hair colours, plus appliers for Catwa heads and LeLutka classic heads, plus Omega appliers; the other box contains hairbases for LeLutka Evo X and Akeruka ADVX mesh heads.

So what are you waiting for? Move your buns and get these buns! 😉

You’re Invited to a Steampunk Party in Sinespace on October 1st, 2022

The social VR/virtual world platform Sinespace is going to be throwing a steampunk-themed party on Saturday evening, October 1st, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time/8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Residents are encouraged to dress up, with prizes in Gold (Sinespace’s in-game currency) for the best avatar in steampunk attire!

One of the event organizers, Mimi Marie, tells me:

Hi Ryan! Huge Theme this Month. If you have time . Its a great theme with loads of fun. We’ve created a Steampunk region. An amazing region Created by Saphy and filled with all things “Steampunk”, By Mimi and Mizz. . Walls are AI creations that some of us created in [text-prompted artificial intelligence art generator tool] Midjourney. Huge Gold give away For Best in Steampunk attire. Random region games for gold. Plus Music by DJ Spiral.

As you can see, they have a stunning new venue for the party!

The location of the party is called Grimstorp, but it will not be open until just before the event starts. Just click on the Explore button in the bottom row of blue buttons on your Sinespace client, search for “Grimstorp”, and you’ll easily find it! (The example in the image below was for “Zoo”, the previous Zoo-themed event, but it’s exactly the same procedure.)

If you’re brand new to Sinespace, here’s a guide I wrote up on how to get started; it’s intended for those familiar with Second Life, but it should work for anybody.

See you there!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is sinespace.png

This blogpost is sponsored by Sinespace, and was written in my role as an embedded reporter for this virtual world (more details here).