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While augmented reality looks set to get more focus over the next few years, virtual reality is the next stage, facilitating more immersive, all-encompassing online experiences that will enable people to connect in all new ways, without ever leaving their homes.

The applications for VR are vast, and are growing every day, especially amid the rising ‘work from home’ shift. And now, Facebook’s looking towards that next level of connection, with a new $10 million funding program designed to encourage VR creators to help build the next social and interactive platforms in the VR environment.

As you can see in this clip, the newly named ‘Horizon Worlds’ experience provides a virtual sandbox for creators to build in, which looks fairly simple for now, but is getting more complex, and immersive, each day.

As explained by Facebook:

“Over the past year, we’ve shipped a number of new features in Horizon Worlds that have made it easier to create complex worlds, and greatly expanded the ceiling of what experiences are possible to build. Have you had an idea for a game or experience and just never had the right toolset to bring that vision to life? If you’ve ever dreamed of building your own paintball game, social hangout space, a mind-bending escape room, a collection of party games, or even a racing experience where you fly through a city on a broom, this is the time to join Horizon Worlds and build with us.”

The new funding will be allocated through three streams designed to incentivize different elements of the VR experience:

  • Community Competitions  Facebook’s launching a series of creator competitions, which will reward developers for building ‘the very best worlds in Horizon’. The program will offer up to $10k in cash prizes for winners.
  • Accelerator Program – Facebook’s Creator Accelerator Program, which is specifically designed to give people from diverse backgrounds ‘an advanced crash course in Horizon Worlds creation’, will soon begin accepting applications for an expanded initiative set to kick off in early 2022.
  • Funding For Developers – Finally, Facebook is also looking to provide funding for developers, studios or creators that are interested in creating experiences for Horizon on a particular theme.

Each of these elements will play a key role in building the VR environment, and ensuring that Facebook remains at the forefront of that next stage.

Which is becoming increasingly important for the company. Data shows that Facebook is steadily losing touch with younger audience groups, which, eventually, could see its platforms lose relevance, reducing the company’s presence in favor of newer, rising online trends.

But if Facebook can own the next tech shift, in regards to both in AR and VR connection, that could go a long way towards mitigating any such decline, with the platform becoming more of a utility in VR and AR, which could ensure that it remains an essential connective tool well into the future.

Indeed, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already flagged that he sees Facebook becoming ‘a metaverse company’, pointing to that next shift, and if Facebook can own that space, and become the framework for more immersive connection, that will reduce its reliance on social apps, and position it for ongoing expansion and growth.

Which is why funding like this is so important – and while it might not directly relate to you yet, and it might not seem like you’ll be buying a VR headset within the next three years, the trends would suggest that a lot of people will, as VR evolves further, and provides more opportunities, in more ways, to facilitate the next stage.

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