Meta is introducing a public, text-based social feature to its Horizon Worlds VR platform. The new “world chat” feature resembles that used by online multiplayer games like World of Warcraft, allowing users to send messages to other people within the same world session. Meta says that world chat is currently rolling out to a “small number of people” and that the company hopes to expand availability “later this summer.”
Users have the option of either selecting a person’s name to view their profile and invite them to connect or tagging the user with “@username” to mention them in the public world chat. The feature will include ease-of-use tools like quick replies to help users to connect without typing out long messages. Meta hasn’t mentioned what kinds of quick replies with be available, but it’s a nice inclusion regardless, considering typing in VR can be incredibly frustrating.
Considering the less-than-ideal experience of typing in VR, Meta has likely introduced these features in preparation for rolling out web and mobile support for Horizon Worlds. The company announced that web and mobile support was in development back in April 2022 and teased that support “will soon be available” in May. That might line up with the release of Meta’s new Quest 3 VR headset, which we’ll hear more about during the company’s Connect event on September 27th.
Like the public in-game chat functions it resembles, text-based interactions in Horizon Worlds might be abused by toxic users. Meta has considered this and is also releasing some moderation tools to “help create a positive community experience.”
All messages will be automatically scanned, and those that violate Meta’s Code of Conduct for Virtual Experiences will be removed. Users can report, block, and / or mute other people to avoid harassment, and the world chat window can be minimized or fully concealed within the Horizon Worlds settings. Horizon Worlds users will also be able to blur world chat messages from people they don’t know and, in turn, make their own chat messages appear blurred to unfamiliar users.
Meta recently opened up the VR platform to minors between 13 and 17, and the new blurred chat setting will be turned on automatically by default for these users. The company is also expanding the platform’s parental supervision tools to ensure minors have an age-appropriate chat experience, allowing parents and guardians to change or lock the blurred chat setting on their child’s account.