In an ambitious move, Meta competitor Pico has announced its intention to launch a rival metaverse project in 2023. Dubbed Project Pico Worlds, the interconnected metaverse gives users the opportunity to participate in 3D virtual reality activities and is conceived as a direct competitor to Meta’s Horizon Worlds.
Living in a Pico World
In its official announcement, Pico summarized the main features of the avatar-based social world, which include an interconnected metaverse where players can build their own VR worlds, experiences and assets.
Although competition in the burgeoning metaverse space is fierce, Pico’s experience of building premium all-in-one VR headsets gives it an advantage over some of the newer incumbents. Its latest such device, the Pico 4, offers a tantalising alternative to Meta’s Oculus Quest 2.
ByteDance, the deep-pocketed Chinese parent company of Pico, intends to launch its eponymous metaverse service on the upcoming Pico 4 and Neo 3 VR headsets sometime in 2023. ByteDance is perhaps best known for developing video-sharing social networking app TikTok.
According to Mayan Scharf, ByeDance’s Director of Global Strategic Partnerships, Project Pico Worlds will be an “elevated virtual social experience” which brings to life a “more three-dimensional, face-to-face interaction space.” In one clip from the promotional teaser, avatars are seen playing basketball, firing bow and arrows and dancing.
Like Facebook’s Horizon Worlds, Project Pico Worlds will be powered by user-generated content (UGC) with an emphasis on games and experiences enjoyed via VR headsets. Interestingly, because TikTok has been integrated into Pico’s OS, TikTokers can actually share their metaverse sessions and upload a VR reel. A feature that could go some way towards popularizing the metaverse in the mainstream. The social networking giant currently boasts around 1 billion monthly active users.
Meta’s Teething Troubles
Horizon Worlds has been contending with various usability problems of late, with Meta’s Metaverse VP Vishal Shah recently confessing that even the company’s employees aren’t using the app very much. Pico’s announcement may concentrate minds at Meta HQ, with pressure mounting to address the performance issues ahead of Project Pico Worlds’ launch in 2023.
In truth, Pico’s announcement shouldn't come as a surprise; they have been chiselling into Meta’s territory for a while now. In addition to its next-gen VR headsets, which are equipped with infrared cameras and sophisticated tracking technology, the tech firm is also releasing its own Enterprise offering, featuring an enterprise-centric app store, developer kits, and exclusive settings.
Watch out, Zuckerberg; the gauntlet has been thrown down.