When Facebook announced it was changing its name to Meta in the middle of the pandemic in October 2021, the tech and media worlds around the world began to surprise.
Telecommuting and lockdowns have exploded the demand for virtual interactive tools, but isn’t such a shift a bit too much?
1. Gadgets and widgets suddenly flood the market
Mark Zuckerberg’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus in 2014 made him feel strongly that the future of mass-market digital and immersive technology lay in an as yet unseen universe: the Metaverse. was a sure sign of
And just in case his intentions are questioned, Zuckerberg has focused all of his meta efforts on Facebook’s subsidiary Reality Labs brand, which has spent an additional $21 billion since 2014, including included more than $13 billion in 2022 alone.not surprising media As the Reality Labs projects were canceled one after another, they were gleefully piling up. Of course, none of these wrecks came close to the massive 75% drop in meta stock valuation last year.
About 10 years after the acquisition of Oculus, Less than 20 million headsets (which eventually became known as Metaquest) was sold.
Compared to the 2.6 billion iPhones sold to date, it’s clear that virtual reality has a very long way to go before it can be said to be near mainstream. But that doesn’t deter Apple from joining the race. vision pro A headset with a staggering mid-four figure retail price. You can bet they won’t be selling billions of babies any time soon.
So what’s behind this high-stakes gamble in such a slow-moving virtual world? Are big companies betting their firms on vague and amorphous concepts like the Metaverse?
2. Because of sustainable interactivity
The idea of an immersive society embedded in an entirely digital and artificial world is not new. Back in 1992, Neil Stevenson, in his novel Snowcrash, explored a theoretical and entirely dystopian street, a perfectly spherical planet of finite dimensions, and a series of perpetually connected individuals. Developed the home of the subculture. On the streets, all property is sold by monopolies owned by billionaires behind the neo-feudal society. Sound familiar?
In the current literature, as well as other creative endeavors, the idea of assigning avatars that can interact with others has been a fiasco either due to extreme control of the platform or because user interest has fallen to zero. Masu. nanoseconds.
of second life Launched in June 2003, Universe was less immersive and focused entirely on interactive dimensions between avatars. Second Life allowed users to live in another world, interact with other individuals and communities, work, and enjoy new relationships.
At its peak, Second Life had 2 million monthly active users connected. In total about 70 million users his accounts have been created. However, the platform met its slow and steady demise as its publisher (Linden Labs) refused to add anything other than a bare-bones imitation of real life. Currently, there are only 20,000 daily active users connecting to this platform, and he has only 80,000 unique users on a monthly basis.
Second Life’s promise of robust 2D interactive spaces is now dominated by online games like Minecraft and Fortnite. Epic Games’ Fortnite Counts Up Approximately 15 million daily active users And nearly 240 million a month. The company’s flagship product, Battle Royale, includes many other challenges and activities, generating $5 billion in sales from $4 billion a year. In Fortnite, you can hold meetings, attend concerts, and destroy 99 enemies to win the game.
With nearly 400 million active accounts, Fortnite has managed to reach a significant portion of the world’s population. while the game is running Mainly popular with people in their 20sis also a true metaverse for players of all ages.
Similar to Fortnite, the Metaverse will very likely start off as a free, 2D, device-agnostic, multi-platform game.
3. Ready Player One
Ernest Cline, in his best-selling book, Ready Player One, and Steven Spielberg’s film version, laid the foundation for the world Zuckerberg and other tech giants dreamed of. Disenchanted citizens of an abandoned Earth escape for hours each day to study, work, socialize and play. And he’s the only metaverse option for them. It is an oasis that is a completely unique planetary monopoly.
Oasis founder James Halliday has decided to hold a contest with the sole purpose of transferring control of this one-of-a-kind virtual planet to a successor, one who shares his own benevolent philosophy. did. In the era of Cambridge Analytica and Bill C-18, the Zuckerberg comparisons suddenly stop here.
Klein’s inspired world is particularly interesting in its economic aspects.Apart from the exclusive aspect, Oasis is open economy You can convert virtual currency from real world to virtual world and vice versa. Activities that take place in the oasis have a real-world economic impact. The same is true for immersive exchanges. These can be replaced with goods and services in the real world.
The protagonist of the book, Wade Watts (who uses a fake identity and works as a tech consultant) is how to get a headset from a virtual school in the first place. Watts was then able to obtain a full-body tactile suit, allowing him to feel the effects of the immersive dimension even more strongly.
By the way, you can pick up haptic suit It currently sells between $500 and $13,000 in Canada (as of 2023).
4. Metaverse Value Chain
The question is not whether the metaverse will finally emerge within the next few decades, How many metaverses are there Appear. In the same way that evasion services have built hardened gardens that require simultaneous subscriptions to multiple platforms, the Metaverse will first and foremost be a story of fierce competition. So from now on let’s think about the metaverse.
At the forefront of this new economy are equipment manufacturers and distributors. Following Meta and Apple, many big brands have developed and funded their own access tools (Meta Quest, Vision Pro). And eventually, similar techniques will apply to game consoles and other combinations of hardware, interfaces, platforms, and content.
A major challenge within this multitude of metaverses is minting and managing cryptocurrencies with no guaranteed convertibility. Currently, there are very few games that allow the reverse conversion of virtual money to real money. Without oversight of reliable exchange rates, validation and conversion mechanisms, it can be difficult to work with different cryptocurrencies within different metaverses.
The temptation to create your own currency is irresistible, even after seeing a great example of meta. Libra debacle stare at their faces. This means handing over the overseer to the authorities… AMF, CSAor SEC… the watchdog tech giant avoids at all costs due to the constraints that tend to constrain bohemian style.
From a regulatory perspective, Metaverse currency issuers will need to address the ensuing debt and interest rate mechanisms as well as maintaining acceptable labor relations standards. We must never forget that brutal episode. Chinese prisoner of war In fact, the compulsory gold mining for Western World of Warcraft players was a reminder that the value creation inherent in such games needs to be strictly overseen.
And last but not least, there is the question of what makes the metaverse work. Canadian documentary filmmaker Dan Olson has declared the Metaverse to be nothing more than a universe, dead mallaccess rights, copyright, superusers, content creators and feature developers, there are many questions that still need to be addressed.
From the outset, a significant portion of the Metaverse will undoubtedly be powered by virtual spaces, assets and projections generated by artificial intelligence, which itself is now in the midst of a crisis. intellectual property Problems related to the sources used.
There’s also the matter of Apple’s dominant position in the digital distribution ecosystem, as many content and software producers have made clear.In a legal battle, Fortnite publisher Epic Games even Removed the company’s flagship game from the Apple Store while awaiting the court’s verdict. Epic, in particular, has a very bleak view of Apple cutting sales of its own currency, VBucks, by 30%.
Clearly, the virtual content economy has to adapt. Many major international brands will line up on the portal (as Second Life, Decentraland, and many other social platforms already do), but there will be no independent content creation or business activity within the metaverse. The problem needs to be addressed. Let’s do this one last time.
5. Dirty tabula rasa
Will interactive marketplaces of the future allow creators to sell directly to consumers, and have funding partners pay for the time, manpower and materials required for creative production? do you want?
Only time will tell what new modes of economic interaction the metaverse will enable. Since the widespread acceptance of online interaction, asymmetric power networks will emerge within the Metaverse, as they have in the past, and perhaps even more philanthropic and egalitarian alternatives. Of course, we should not fool ourselves. Those who have all the cards tend to deal hands that stack the deck in their favor. The more things change, the more the status quo stays the same…and yet opportunities present themselves. And as always, the only way to have a chance of winning is to play the game.