- Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg debuted the new metaverse avatars at the company’s Connect conference.
- Zuckerberg’s avatar featured legs, which he said was “probably the most requested feature.”
- The company also announced a new $1,499 Quest Pro virtual reality headset, and new partnerships.
Mark Zuckerberg debuted his new avatar in real-time during Meta’s Connect event on Tuesday.
It was the first time the Facebook founder has held a public conference in Meta’s Horizon World metaverse. Zuckerberg took the opportunity to announce the updated avatars, which he said will be rolled out later this year across phones and virtual reality headsets. He called the new avatars “more expressive and detailed than anything else today.”
The new avatars will also have legs, something Zuckerberg said was “probably the most requested feature on our roadmap.”
The metaverse avatars didn’t have legs before because it was harder in virtual reality to accurately position where body parts like legs are, the Facebook founder said.
“But seriously, legs are hard, which is why other virtual reality systems don’t have them either,” Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg’s announcement came just a few months after the billionaire was slammed on social media for an avatar he posted on Instagram. Social-media users were quick to diss the image which showed Zuckerberg’s avatar standing in front of an Eiffel Tower, with some likening the graphics to 1990s video games like Zelda and Quake.
At the time, Zuckerberg responded with an updated avatar and admitted the previous image was “basic.”
“The graphics in Horizon are capable of much more — even on headsets — and Horizon is improving very quickly,” Zuckerberg said in an Instagram post in August.
Grimes also took the opportunity to slam Zuckerberg and his avatar, calling him “under-qualified” to run the metaverse and saying the billionaire’s virtual reality plans are “dead” before they’ve truly begun.
Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that Zuckerberg had fast-tracked a new avatar following the criticism, with one Meta graphic artist claiming in a since-deleted LinkedIn post that he and his team had designed roughly 40 versions of Mr. Zuckerberg’s face over a four-week period before a final version was approved.
“We started with simple graphics and we’re doing a ton of work to meaningfully improve how Horizon will look and feel over the next year,” Zuckerberg said at the Meta Connect event. “The Metaverse needs to feel inspired.”
But, Meta has faced headwinds in recent months, as the company’s stock has been hammered amid Zuckerberg’s new plans for the company. Shares of Meta neared a four-year low on Tuesday.
Internal memos obtained by The Verge last week showed Meta’s VP of the Metaverse, Vishal Shah, telling Metaverse employees working on the Horizon Worlds app they are on “quality lockdown” for the rest of the year to fix issues in the app before its released to more users.
In one memo, Shah said the app’s onboarding experience is “confusing and frustrating.” Shah said employees working on the app weren’t spending a lot of time on it.
“Why don’t we love the product we’ve built so much that we use it all the time,” Shah wrote. “The simple truth is, if we don’t love it, how can we expect our users to love it?”
The Facebook founder announced at the event that the new avatars will eventually be available via a partnership with Zoom, as well as on Android and Apple phones.
During the event, Meta unveiled its new $1499 Quest Pro virtual reality headset. The company also announced several new partnerships with NBCUniversal and Microsoft, including a metaverse experience based on “The Office” and the opportunity for people to use Microsoft tools like Word and Excel in the metaverse.