The metaverse created by Meta, formerly Facebook, has had a really bad week.
When Meta opened its books, it revealed that what was described as the “future of the internet” had lost billions of dollars for the social media giant. And would keep losing money for years to come.
Then, a cast of some of the biggest names in technology slammed what’s been created by Meta – one saying it was “so stupid it made me sad”.
But first, what is the “metaverse” that Meta is banking its future on?
Essentially, they are virtual worlds that people – real people – can occupy using avatars they control through virtual reality devices, including headsets designed to create a fully immersive user experience.
In these worlds people can meet, connect, play, shop, and work – basically anything can be dreamed up.
Meta’s flagship metaverse app is Meta Horizon Worlds.
“It is an ever-expanding social universe where you can hang with friends, meet new people, play games, attend cool events and there are over 10,000 worlds and experiences to explore,” Meta said.
This week the company started shipping its new virtual reality headset, the Meta Quest Pro, which promised to “expand what’s possible in virtual reality”.
You can buy it online for $2,699.99.
“It adds a bunch of new technology to do more in the metaverse,” said Mark Zuckerberg in a video posted to Facebook.
Meta’s metaverse may consist of digital worlds – but Meta is pumping cash into it. Lots of it. And losing lots too.
According to its quarterly results released this week, Reality Labs, the company’s metaverse division, lost $3.7b USD over the past quarter – it’s lost $9.4b USD this year so far.
And those losses are expected to grow.
“We do anticipate that Reality Labs operating losses in 2023 will grow significantly year-over-year,” said Zuckerberg in a statement accompanying this week’s financial results.
Unfortunately for Meta, not many people are using Horizon Worlds – The Wall Street Journal reported it has fewer than 200,000 monthly active users – less than half of its goal.
That’s about the population of Wellington. Or the combined populations of Whangarei, Rotorua and Palmerston North.
Even worse for Meta, it seems it has far more people hating it than using it.
At the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live Conference this week, Microsoft Gaming chief executive, Phil Spencer – the man in charge of Xbox made it clear he was not a fan of Meta’s efforts.
“I’d say it’s a poorly built video game,” he said.
He said the video game industry had been building beautiful 3D worlds that people could connect with other in for years.
“Building a metaverse that looks like a meeting room – that’s not somewhere where I want to spend my time.”
He did say, however, that it will evolve.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of Snap – the company that owns Snapchat – Evan Spiegel described the metaverse at the same event as “living inside a computer”.
“The last thing I want to do at work after a long day is live inside a computer,” he said.
Phil Libin, the co-founder and chief executive of All Turtles and mmhmm (and the former boss of Evernote) described what Meta had created as “stupid”.
“It’s kind of pointless betting against the broad technology, someone at some point is going to make something that succeeds.
“I think the Facebook vision of the metaverse is so stupid it makes me sad.”
Zuckerberg himself revealed his thoughts on Horizon Worlds in an investor call this week.
“It’s a kind of a live early product platform, and that’s evolving quickly, but obviously has a long way to go before it’s going to be what we aspire for it to be,” he said.
I get that a lot of people might disagree with this investment. But from what I can tell, I think that this is going to be a very important thing… which I think are going to be fundamentally important to the future
So, what is its future?
What’s can’t be denied is that Zuckerberg has already built the biggest social media company in the world.
Facebook popularity has skyrocketed since it was founded in 2004 – becoming (for better or for worse) a major part of our society.
Its influence has shaped elections, enabled others to build business empires, created internet celebrities – the list continues.
Even though in recent years Facebook has faced stiff competition, it’s still king.
So, if a company could do the same with the metaverse, Meta probably could.
The technology is also seeing a lot of investment from other players across many sectors – gaming companies through to fashion titans like Nike and Louis Vuitton.
In New Zealand, there are several companies developing some amazing stuff too.
There’s no doubt there is mammoth potential and a big future for this technology – the question is whether Meta’s vision for it is that future.
This news is republished from another source. You can check the original article here