The Uncertain Future of the Metaverse: Trends and Skepticism

It is still uncertain whether Meta's investment in the metaverse will be successful, and if the idea of a VR-based transformation of how people connect will come to fruition. Meta, however, remains dedicated to investing $13.7 billion into VR development in 2021, and even more in 2022, despite concerns from shareholders. As younger generations already interact in metaverse-like spaces via gaming apps, the potential indicators for success are there, but VR remains an uncertain bet.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is placing a big bet on the Metaverse, a virtual world that blends augmented and virtual reality technologies. To support its optimistic outlook, Meta commissioned Deloitte to conduct a series of reports assessing the potential economic impact of the metaverse in various regions worldwide. However, some experts have raised concerns about the methodology and accuracy of the data used in these reports. Deloitte's calculations for the potential economic impact of the metaverse encompass a wide range of digital technologies beyond just virtual and augmented reality, leading some to question the validity of the results.

As per the report, US retailers and brands have started selling their products’ virtual versions alongside their physical offerings. However, this digital use case does not necessarily fall under the metaverse category. The concept of metaverse primarily focuses on creating a virtual world that enables users to engage in more immersive and interactive experiences through virtual reality technology. Though the use of these technologies may broaden in the future, they are not necessarily synonymous with the metaverse.

Regarding Deloitte's definition of the metaverse, it may be reasonable to encompass all technological advances within this concept. According to Deloitte, the metaverse refers to a vast network of 3D virtual worlds that are rendered in real time and can be experienced synchronously by an unlimited number of users. This network allows users to maintain the continuity of their data such as their identity, history, communications, entitlements, objects, and payments. This definition covers a range of experiences, from virtual reality and augmented reality to basic 3D online platforms. Nevertheless, this comprehensive interpretation of the metaverse may not correspond with what the general public perceives as the next major advancement in digital technology.

Meta has an advantage in presenting the potential economic impact of the metaverse by aggregating various technological advancements into a single figure. This makes it appear as though the metaverse will be highly beneficial for businesses. Nevertheless, considering the metaverse, the majority of people are thinking of immersive VR interactions rather than AR glasses and online worlds’ expansion into realms.

The report reads like a pitch deck for consulting firms to encourage big businesses to update their processes and hardware in preparation for the next shift. While there are some interesting notes, the report may not convince skeptics that the metaverse will be a definite winner in terms of immersive VR interactions.

In conclusion, it is unclear what the future holds for the metaverse. The trends in younger generations indicate that there will be an increase in the use of digital avatars and online connections in the coming years. However, consolidating every possible technological advance under the "metaverse" label may not accurately reflect the potential opportunities, and could possibly turn some people into skeptics rather than supporting Meta's ongoing investment in its endeavors.

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