In October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg declared his ambition to take internet users into the metaverse, this virtual space of the future. If web giants and brands have massively invested in the metaverse, this digital double of the physical world is still struggling to convince – both the general public and developers.
More than 2,300 game developers were surveyed about the metaverse in the “State of the Game Industry 2023” report, published ahead of the upcoming Game Developers Conference in San Francisco (March 20-24). Many are skeptical about this concept, which refers to large, interconnected virtual worlds where users will be able to access a multitude of services through avatars. On paper, at least. In fact, 45% of the developers surveyed believe that the metaverse will never deliver on its promise. Only 33% thought the same in 2022.
So where does this wariness come from? First, the idea of the metaverse itself. Major tech companies, brands and states do not agree on a single definition of this word, which first appeared in the 1992 novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. The metaverse is a concept that is all the more difficult to understand because it is based on technological advances that are still in development, such as Web3, NFTs and virtual reality. All in all, it’s not easy to find your way through this myriad of futuristic terms.
Technical limitations also hinder the metaverse’s move into the mainstream. Virtual reality headsets have still not been widely adopted because of their relatively high price. Count US$399 (RM1,709) for the Meta Quest 2 (formerly known as Oculus Quest), and US$799 (RM3,423) for the HTC Vive Pro 2. And costs can rise quickly if you add accessories such as joysticks, position sensors, a case or a lanyard.
Despite this, some digital giants seem to be further ahead than others in developing what some describe as the next generation of the internet, Epic Games in the lead. In fact, 14% of the developers surveyed believe that the publisher of the hit game “Fortnite” is the most likely to move internet users into the metaverse, followed by Meta and Microsoft (7%). With this in mind, the American video game company recently participated in a US$30mil (RM128.5mil) fundraising round for Hadean. This British start-up’s ambition is to put “supercomputer levels of processing power at the disposal of anyone” – an essential step in building the infrastructure necessary for the metaverse.
But much still needs to be done, according to one anonymous developer quoted in the “State of the Game Industry 2023” report: “[the metaverse] needs to be viewed as an irreplaceable part of people’s lives. It needs to offer a truly unique experience that you literally can’t get somewhere else – and not just ‘that thing we can already do, but in VR.'” Meta and other big tech firms are working on it. – AFP Relaxnews