The buzz around Metaverse has been building up since Facebook’s rebranding last October. Soon after, tech giants like Microsoft, NVIDIA, and Intel joined the chorus.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard for USD 68.7 billion, in the biggest gaming industry deal ever, is in line with the former’s long term Metaverse play.
However, with the entry of multiple players, the question weighing on everyone’s mind is: Will the companies have their standalone Metaverses, or will the Metaverse be a single entity?
Most of the ideas doing rounds on what Metaverse should look like are conflicting. However, Esther O’ Callaghan, Cofounder of Hundo.careers, is optimistic. He thinks the Metaverse will be like the Oasis from ReadyPlayerOne run by young people who care more about the community than profit.
Meanwhile, Lucas Rizotto, CEO of Where Thoughts Go, chalks up the idea of ReadyPlayerOne future as a mass delusion.
Moving avatars between the virtual worlds is one of the biggest challenges digital natives face. The difference between a Facebook profile picture format and a World of Warcraft character in the Metaverse is vast, and efforts to standardise the formats for these 3D avatars are still a work in progress.
The Wall Street Journal reporter Joanna Stern spoke about her disorienting experience after spending 24 hours in the Metaverse. ‘Everything was fractured. I ended up creating four different avatars over the course of 24 hours,” she said.
Aside from this, the more formats you play, the more expensive it gets. Exactly why web-rendering gaming engines are only made by huge technology companies like Epic Games, leaving smaller gaming companies out in the cold.
Then there are the hardware issues. Stern said she has faced ‘app crashes, performance slowdown and battery drain’ within an hour even with the advanced Quest 2.
After Facebook’s announcement last October, several Metaverse platforms spoke of potential resistance from users over protocols.
Dave Carr, communications lead at Decentraland, said the people who want a democratic virtual world with control over the content they generate would choose the decentralized version, where the avatars can freely move around.
Crucible cofounder Ryan Gill said his company is committed to keeping Metaverse open. Crucible is using the decentralized Web3 protocols and technologies such as blockchain to verify digital ownership and protect the privacy of the user.
Sebastien Borget, the CEO of The Sandbox echoed similar sentiments saying the Metaverse wasn’t about competition but about a future that is open and decentralized.
On one hand, the Open Metaverse Interoperability Group works on building protocols to bridge the gaps between virtual worlds and making the Metaverse more secure and diverse. Meanwhile, recent patents filed by Facebook Meta indicate that the Metaverse will be filled with hyper-personalised ads and could have eye and face-tracking technology.
The endless possibilities of the Metaverse have more than piqued the interest of consumers and the market alike, but how it will play out in the long term remains a moot point.