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Horizon Worlds: Comic Relief or Just a Joke?

Photo by Brands&People / Unsplash

The latest quarterly loss from Meta's metaverse is $9.4 billion so far. That number is expected to continue to rise as Zuckerberg proceeds to work on the company’s newest venture, Horizon Worlds. With investments plummeting, investors are wondering whether there will be any tangible results in the near future. But despite multibillion dollar losses since Meta pivoted their efforts, many remain unbothered, and some still are making money off Meta’s virtual platform Horizon Worlds.

Meta’s Dwindling Metaverse Stills Sees Some Make Money

Horizon Worlds has reportedly struggled to attract and retain users: It currently has less than 200,000 active users per month—far below half of its goal of half a million monthly. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company has been struggling in this area for quite some time—and it’s no surprise given their recent earnings reports: The last quarterly loss was a wince-worthy 9.4 billion USD.

While these numbers are definitely alarming, seeing Meta drop out of the top 20 most valuable companies is a potential sign for the future. But at the same time, their virtual platform Horizon Worlds has created value to hundreds of users, making many enthusiastic about the platform.

37-year-old California Resident Alexis Dimas has been playing on Horizon Worlds for two years since it was in beta. He taught himself how to build in the digital game "worlds" because he knew that if he wanted something done he would have to do it himself. Since then, he's created over 25 virtual worlds and now offers his consultancy services to help others ideate and design their worlds on the platform. It's now his main source of income. According to Dimas, the negative press isn't totally accurate–he says "It's just always packed everywhere I go."

Legless Stand-Up Comedy?

And Dimas isn't alone in making a living off Horizon Worlds. 47-year-old Aaron Sorrels is a professional comedian. Despite the platform's avatars not having legs, Sorrels took to opening up a virtual stand-up club last year. Although Sorrels only has thousands of users so far, he says there's a steady stream of people who visit his Soapstone Comedy Club—now the primary source of his income.

Here, amateurs as well as professionals perform on a virtual stage to make people laugh across the world. In his most recent week, Sorrels saw more than 15,000 visitors who spent an average of 20 minutes each watching comics give their best material.

Users can financially support the comedy club through in-app purchases, including spending “applause” credits, as well as spending $9.99 to get their name added to the club’s virtual supporter wall—which might not be there for much longer, if Meta’s performance over the past 3 quarters is any indicator.

Meta: Not the First Nor the Last

While many thank Zuckerberg’s vision for the platform’s capacity to grow user-generated content (like through Sorrel’s virtual comedy club), they aren’t the first or the last virtual platform to have these—and their cut is much higher than other platforms.

Minecraft has long had virtual comedy clubs—with many YouTubers and content creators performing therein to generate their own content for other platforms. Allowing their YouTube subscribers and communities to visit them and sit in on the virtual comedy shows has given them new ways to connect thanks to the 3D spaces.

Roblox, yet another virtual platform, has also featured many virtual comedy clubs, encouraging a younger demographic to get up on stage, practice public performances and become more confident. And one thing’s for sure—it didn’t cost Roblox or Minecraft a $10 billion commitment to build the systems that support these virtual comedy clubs like Sorrel’s Soapstone.