I’ll just get straight to the point. A major reason I think Meta’s Metaverse doesn’t work, is because of its vision.
“Importantly, it’ll be characterized by social presence, the feeling that you’re right there with another person, no matter where in the world you happen to be.” – Meta
Meta focuses very much on the social interaction between users, which – mainly through the use of VR glasses – feels just like the real thing. With this, Meta seems to be saying “It’s as social as the physical world, cool huh! However, the vision of other visionaries is “It’s completely different from the physical world, cool huh!” This makes much more sense. After all, no matter how well you try to mimic it, physical social contact will always feel different from digital contact, partly because of those clunky VR glasses you have to put on. So embrace that difference and emphasize the cool things that can be done in the metaverse, but not in the physical world.
Besides Meta’s vision, there are a number of issues that make Meta fail.
A major problem for Meta is that the company has a poor reputation for privacy. The company has repeatedly violated privacy laws in the past, including in the Netherlands and the European Parliament. This has led to a negative perception of the Meta brand and a lack of trust among many people. The idea of living your digital life in a digital world built by a company that doesn’t take privacy rules very seriously is not very appealing to many.
Difficult to access platforms
Another problem for Meta is the accessibility of their Metaverse. To access Meta’s Metaverse, you need VR glasses. However, many people do not have VR glasses yet, and it does not look like many people are buying one anytime soon outside of gaming purposes. In addition, Meta’s two current metaverses, Horizon Worlds and Horizon Workrooms, are not accessible in many countries. This significantly limits the potential audience of Meta’s Metaverse.
Meta seems to be targeting two audiences for now: young people (Gen Z) and gamers. For young people, however, Meta’s Metaverse is just one of many trends. Since the hype surrounding the Metaverse and NFTs during the corona pandemic, there have been other trends that have captured the attention of this target audience. For the highly discerning audience of gamers, the quality of Meta’s Metaverse graphics is simply not enough. Thus, Zuckerberg was laughed at by the gaming community when he showed his first Metaverse avatar to the world in 2022.
Negativity a problem or not?
While there has been a lot of negativity surrounding the metaverse and some major companies such as Disney have already stopped development, it is also important to see that this negativity is not necessarily a bad thing. It can also be instructive for metaverse development. There are still plenty of examples of metaverses that do succeed, and there is still an awful lot of room for innovation and growth. We also talked about this in a previous blog in this series.
However, it is clear that Mark Zuckerberg is not the right person to develop the Metaverse. His reputation and history with privacy problems only lead to skepticism about the metaverse. A Zuckerberg initiative is automatically met with a lot less enthusiasm. We hope alternative visionaries rise up to give the metaverse what it still lacks.
“We need visionaries to create immersive storytelling experiences. It is vital to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds and create significant experiences that appeal to a diverse range of people. The Metaverse’s success lies in its ability to offer more than just branded incentives and provide a space for creativity and culture to thrive.” – Decode