The metaverse is exciting (Opens in a new tab)it is mystified (Opens in a new tab), but mostly it’s kind of a mess. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was dragged in August for his creepy, dead meta selfie. (Opens in a new tab); The beatdown started again earlier this month when Zuck announced that the Meta avatar would be getting legs (Opens in a new tab). And it’s not just the online hoi polloi who don’t care about the current situation. Speaking at today’s WSJ Tech Live 2022 conference, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that the metaverse is “a poorly constructed video game.”
“If I think about video games, for years we’ve had people come together in 3D spaces and save the world from alien invaders or conquer the castle,” Spencer said. “Building a metaverse that looks like a meeting room, I just find that’s not where I want to spend most of my time.”
Palmer Luckey, who founded Oculus VR in 2012, would provide the core company. (Opens in a new tab) For Meta’s Reality Labs business—he was more skeptical of Meta’s assessment of Horizon Worlds, comparing it to a “project car” that Zuckerberg is pouring an absurd amount of money into in search of a vision. “I don’t think it’s a good product,” Luckey said. “It’s not. It’s not fun, it’s not good. Honestly, most people on the team would probably agree that it’s not a good product today.”
Interesting, Improbable (Opens in a new tab) CEO Herman Narula seemed to agree with Spencer’s assertion that games are already mini-metaverses, but argued that the metaverse in general is not focused on games.
“Video games already work well,” Narula said. “Video games are great closed value systems. If you like Call of Duty or World of Warcraft, they’ll continue to be fun for years to come. The metaverse is, at least in my opinion, an idea where you can start. tying those experiences together, and that’s a much less interesting game. -for companies, say, than for sports leagues or fashion brands”.
That’s not unreasonable: games already work quite well as standalone worlds, and most early efforts to craft some kind of metaversal experience seem more focused: Walmart Land (Opens in a new tab)for example, or the Adam Savage thing that made Imogen cry (Opens in a new tab) (and, more importantly, convinced him that the metaverse might work, someday.) Still, Spencer said (via the Wall Street Journal (Opens in a new tab)) thinks online worlds will eventually go in a game-like direction: “I think [virtual engagement] It’s going to look more like video games than some of the models I see from the metaverse today,” he said.
Regardless of what anyone thinks, the metaverse of Meta is bleeding right now. The company today reported its financial results for the quarter (Opens in a new tab) (via MSNBC (Opens in a new tab)) that revenue generated by its Reality Labs business nearly halved from the previous year, to $285 million; it lost $3.67 billion in this quarter, compared to $2.63 billion in the same quarter last year. Losses for the year totaled $9.4 billion, and Meta said it expects “operating losses to grow significantly year over year in 2023.”