Is the Metaverse Dead?

Woman backlit with a VR headset

You’ve heard the talk: the metaverse is dead. Global searches for the term “metaverse” have dropped by 80%, and nearly two thirds of US adults still don’t understand the hype. Is there any hope at all for this concept that tech giant and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg invested over $10,000,000,000 in? If so, that’s a lot of zeros to waste on half-baked ideas of virtual raves and office meetings! 

Is it really time to ditch all hope of immersive virtual worlds, and get back to “real life”? Well, we’re here to give you more context into this ongoing debate, including whether or not your business should still keep tabs on developments in the metaverse.

Take a deep breath and relax, because it seems that the metaverse may have to wait a little longer. As for us here at IDLab Global, as much as we move fast everyday we’re also running a strategic marathon. It may take a bit more time than most people thought it would, but the metaverse will be well worth the wait in a couple of years. Keep reading, and we’ll give you the reasons behind our optimism. 

Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse project has only 200,000 monthly users. Is it time to admit that the metaverse dream is dead?

We’ve all heard the disapproving murmurs surrounding Meta Platforms’ failure to successfully bring the metaverse to fruition through Meta’s Reality Labs. At first, Mark Zuckerberg was bullish when making his big announcement: Facebook’s rebranding to Meta Platforms to represent the merging of virtual reality and the physical world through the new concept of the metaverse.

For a time, Meta focused on all things metaverse, aiming to become the ultimate metaverse company. Zuckerberg insisted that the metaverse would become part of daily life, providing delightful experiences, immersive entertainment (Jon Batiste concert included), gaming solutions, and even a place for teams working on innovative solutions.

Reports show that Meta has experienced a cumulative loss of $13.7B from activities involving metaverse development. Now, Mark Zuckerberg seems to be the laughingstock of the tech industry, while shareholders of Meta seek to quietly bury their optimism that the metaverse could ever come to fruition.

The metaverse is out, Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing.

Move over metaverse, AI has taken over the spotlight (for now, anyway). With the advances to generative AI technology holding the attention of the tech industry, the metaverse has been shoved to the background. AI has given rise to a whole new generation of creative and expressive tools. By computing large volumes of data, AI can generate human-like responses and assist in enhancing human creativity within marketing and business functions.

For example, generative AI can assist in developing AI personas, which gives more insight into the buyer journey and automatically segment marketing audiences based on behavior. AI also has massive benefits for search marketing, with tech giants like Google and Microsoft investing heavily into AI to increase the accuracy and efficiency of their respective search engines.

These technologies have use cases in both the short term and the long term, while the metaverse seems to have mostly long term benefits at this stage of the game.

Why should we care about the development of a parallel virtual reality? 

Man in a wheelchair rowing with a VR headset on

And what is the goal of the metaverse, anyway? Ever since the pandemic, the time the developed world spends behind screens has multiplied. Remote work has become the norm for many companies, some employees going so far as to leave roles that demand employees to return to the office. The purpose of the metaverse, in part, is to allow an increased extension of the connection between the digital world and physical world that already exists.

The connection between the digital and physical worlds has become so pervasive that we rarely give it a second thought. Think about the Uber app coordinating your ride, the Netflix interface suggesting new shows based on past watch behavior, the many zoom calls providing a virtual meeting place, or anything involving the internet. These are all instances of immersive technology creating more ease and convenience in the everyday lives of modern consumers. If anything, trends point to a future of increased connection and interaction.

But the goal of creating the metaverse isn’t about generating neon graphics, but rather high-quality digital experiences of all shapes and sizes. Although there are many critics surrounding the validity and usefulness of the metaverse, it is still very relevant to the future of business and marketing. 

Was Mark Zuckerberg totally wrong about the metaverse?

The bottom line is that it was all just too much, too soon. Zuck’s vision is spot on but his timing is way off. The tech to support the metaverse just isn’t there yet, and the barriers to entry for the average person are just too high. 

From the cost of the headset, to the mere fact you have to wear such a big clunky thing, to the hoops you have to jump through just to get in. Then there’s the need to have a high-speed connection coupled with the fact that not only is some of the tech not usable on a single device (some on headset and some on desktop) within a single metaverse, but you can’t go from world to world. All in all, there are way too many barriers.

Likening Web3 and the metaverse to the early days of the web in a linear way was a mistake far too many pundits made. When the web initially “launched”, the tech expectations of the average user were so low that they were basically nonexistent. 

Now expectations are high and if you don’t meet them right away, you’re out. The metaverse doesn’t meet expectations, yet. 

This is how it’s going to go from here – first we’re going to adopt AI deep into our everyday lives, then we’re going to begin using smart contracts for common transactions which will force the need for using cryptocurrency. By that time, metaverse tech will be ready and we will fully adopt all aspects of Web3 – including the metaverse.

An all-encompassing, immersive virtual world with the metaverse is still a faraway target.

Woman cheering on the couch wearing a VR headset.

You can’t expect a toddler to run a marathon, and the metaverse is still a toddler. Although well-intentioned, Zuckerberg’s billions of dollars in investments weren’t enough to make up for what the technologies behind the metaverse need to develop: time. We all know that money is no substitute for time, and in the case of the metaverse, it is only the start of its integration into modern society. 

In the short term, the metaverse does not yet have the technology and infrastructure to run at full capacity. As we know from many past experiences with the invention of new technology and discovery, from the invention of the radio, to the television, to the internet, to VR headsets, there will always be one group of cynics that doubt new technology will create a positive impact.

Think back just to the invention of the internet only forty or so years ago. Many news stories ran in local papers, with critics insisting that the new invention would be useless and not change anything about the reality surrounding the way the world worked. They were obviously very wrong back then, and we very well could be wrong now in condemning the validity of the metaverse in the long term.

Perhaps Zuckerberg had the right idea when rebranding Facebook as Meta, but was simply too far ahead of his time, rushing the evolution of the metaverse to please shareholders and critics. The virtual world still remains alive and well, albeit more slow-growing than initially predicted.

In short: no, the metaverse isn’t dead. It’s only just beginning.

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