Virtual and augmented reality has a plethora of applications in entertainment, education, business, and much more provided that it is implemented correctly and the technology behind it continues to develop. To this end, it seems Meta (formerly Facebook) is trying to push that progress along with the Metaverse, but is this nothing more than a fool’s errand through a ‘poorly built video game’ given the already established competition and projects in the works?
Earlier this week, tech leaders from around the industry were brought together at the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live event held in Laguna Beach, California. At this event, interviewers asked several about their view on Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse, which yielded some interesting perspectives about the burgeoning VR technology. One of the more charged explanations came from Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, who described the Metaverse in its current state as a “poorly built video game.” He continued, explaining that when thinking about video games, “we’ve been putting people together in 3D spaces to go and save the world from invading aliens or conquer the castle,” so “building a Metaverse that looks like a meeting room, I find it’s not where I want to spend most of my time.”
Of course, this isn’t a perfect analogy, as Meta has released gaming spaces for the Metaverse through its Horizon Worlds title. However, Spencer isn’t entirely wrong in that there does not seem to be anything appealing about being in a virtual 3D meeting room over being in person or on a Zoom call, but you can tell us what you think of this in the comments below. Further, when it comes to the gaming side of things, games like VRChat have been around for over five years with a rather healthy community of players throughout that time.
Another interesting take came from the founder of Oculus VR and creator of the Oculus Rift, Palmer Luckey, whose company was later bought out by then Facebook. To paraphrase, he likened Zuckerberg’s foray into VR with the Metaverse to a ‘project car’ wherein the car will probably cost more yet mean more to Zuckerberg than others around him. He also specifically stated that the project is not in a good state right now, as most would tend to agree. This makes sense if you are a startup just getting into a new field, but Meta is a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company.
In theory, Meta should have the resources and capability to do some amazing things on the first public go of them, so why is this ‘project car’ methodology the way things are going? Whatever the case may be, what Meta is doing has not seemed to work in their favor, as it is reported that the company has lost around $700 billion in value from its peak of around $1 trillion. In the past year, stock values have slid down 69% from around $330 a share to just under $100 in the last few days.
At the end of the day, Meta is all in on the Metaverse, which, from the outside, is something of a cash furnace. However, progress and development do not come without pain, so for those hopeful for the future of virtual and augmented reality, this could be a push in the right direction no matter what happens with Zuckerberg’s company. Perhaps there will be a complete turnaround in the public opinion of the Metaverse, or the project will implode. Either way, much will have been learned. Only time and copious amounts of cash being firehosed at the problem will tell now.