Although most people cannot explain exactly what the Metaverse is, there have been plenty of people hyping it up as the “next great thing”, launching imaginative products such as Metaverse games, Metaverse social networking, and Metaverse property having emerged. It has been favored by many tech giants, including well-known venture capitalist Matthew Ball, who bluntly stated that “the Metaverse will change the world.”
It’s clearly near and dear to Facebook (and Meta) founder Mark Zuckerberg, who in a CBS interview with Gayle King told her “that when he was in middle school . . . he’d leave his friends, they would go off, [and] he said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had a world where we could still play together, but be in different places?’”
Lyta Gold, in her excellent essay “No Sex For You”, a brilliant take-down of the Metaverse, sums it up pretty well: “What Zuckerberg is trying to build is a child’s idea of utopia, a world without internal boundaries, where your friends can’t ever leave and go home, where they don’t have their own space, where everyone has to stay around and play in your world, designed by your rules. It’s not a fantasy of connection but a fantasy of control, where you never have to grow up or change, ever.”
If you happened to see the soulless avatar Zuckerberg posted on Facebook, which is constantly shared and mocked on Twitter these days, you may have another clue as to why the Metaverse is failing.
Other problems aside, the quality and stiffness of the image are a joke. I do not know what Zuckerburg was thinking when he decided to publish it after investing millions of dollars in this so-called groundbreaking project and even changing the name of the company to brag about it.
The avatars in Meta’s Horizon Worlds are floating, legless torsos – to quote Lyta Gold again; “if Metaverse avatars stop at the waist, you don’t have to worry about all those inconvenient genitalia.”
So, to sum it up so far: We have a world of shitty graphics and sexless, floating torsos. Ironically they also seem to have forgotten the most important thing when it comes to all products: user experience. Check out the video below, what Walmart imagines shopping in the Metaverse will be like. I think it will be clear to anyone that if this is what shopping in the Metaverse will be, then no one will ever bother!
To quote Kate Wagner, in her rather brilliant article on why no one wants the Metaverse: “Tech companies like Meta (aka Facebook) literally believe this shitty, poorly animated, barely spatialized reality is better than real life, some kind of improvement on the grubbly real world. It is not, which is why it sells itself via ads that are deterritorialized, deliberately ambiguous about what is real and what is online — it needs this blurry distinction to look sexy, to make it seem like the future, an alternative and credible space, to blur the truth which is that you’re wearing a headset shopping at Walmart.”
To me, the Metaverse feels a bit like the – FIVE – upcoming Avatar sequels, which literally no one wants or cares about. Much like the countless Avatar sequels (coming to a cinema near you soon) are a pet project of James Cameron, and might go down in history as the most expensive “turkeys” ever made, it seems the Metaverse is Zuckerberg’s pet, a childhood dream that no one except him really wants. Facebook is bleeding users to other platforms, so they probably do need to innovate to be “cool” again, but … We’ve seen nothing cool from the Metaverse so far!