Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg posted a screenshot of his digital avatar standing in front of the Eiffel Tower and what I think is supposed to be la Sagrada Família as a way of announcing that Horizon Worlds was launching in France and Spain. Unfortunately for him, the internet more or less immediately started dragging and meme-ifying the screenshot of the virtual reality platform — likely because the graphics were, as one Twitter user described it, about on par with the Teletubbies game for the PlayStation One.
Zuckerberg’s apparently seen the memes and wants to let you know that Meta is working on the graphics. On Friday, he posted some new screenshots to Facebook and Instagram, showing off a significantly more life-like version of himself and an ancient-looking plaza. “Major updates to Horizon and avatar graphics coming soon,” he said, promising to share more details at the upcoming Connect conference. Meta spokesperson Peter Gray told The Verge that the company didn’t have any news to share on when that would be, but last year’s event was held in October.
As for the original screenshot, he admits that it’s not exactly flattering. “I know the photo I posted earlier this week was pretty basic — it was taken very quickly to celebrate a launch. The graphics in Horizon are capable of much more — even on headsets,” he said. Personally, though, if my company had been sinking billions into a digital world that many people aren’t exactly sold on, I’d probably avoid posting quick and dirty screenshots of it — especially if I’d just announced a $100 price bump to the Quest 2, making it significantly more expensive to access said VR experience. But that’s just me.
Meta isn’t the only one promising better graphics in an attempt to entice people to join its metaverse. Last month, Roblox announced that it was also updating its traditionally blocky and low-res graphics, and its product lead Josh Anon said that its end goal was “replicate the real world” in an interview with Protocol.
Ultimately, though, graphics are secondary to what you do with them. Even if Meta’s new update to Horizon upgrades the visuals to the level of, say, Fortnite, that won’t matter unless there’s something interesting to see in its virtual worlds. That point is perfectly illustrated by this tweet dunking on Zuckerberg’s original post:
In fortnite you can be goku with a shotgun https://t.co/lKJMJLNcE3
— lordbeef (@lordbeef) August 17, 2022
Update August 19th, 6:23PM ET: Added comment from Meta about the timing of the Connect conference.