On October 28, Facebook announced that it had changed its name to “Meta” and that it will focus on building an immersive 3D virtual reality. The company stated that it intends to use Meta’s crypto wallet Novi as its primary means for cryptocurrency and NFT transactions in the metaverse. However, according to a survey of American adults, 68% of American adults are uninspired by Meta’s version of the metaverse, and some interviewees even believe Meta is overly optimistic about Metaverse’s future development.
This survey by Meta was done on 2,200 American people from October 29 to November 1, 2021, by data survey experts Morning Consult. According to the poll:
⦁ Most customers polled have not fully accepted the notion of a metaverse: 68% said they are not interested in using Meta’s version of the metaverse.
⦁ Male consumers and young people are more interested in the metaverse concept.
At this stage, Facebook’s rebranding as Meta not likely to have been motivated by a desire to reduce the current negative media coverage of the brand. That said, most of the interviewees did not agree with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s reasons for the name change.
Although Zuckerberg has claimed that the name change to Meta is intended to better “represent who we are and the future we want to build,” survey participants were skeptical that this is the real reason for the renaming. More than half of those polled felt that Meta’s rebranding was intended to mitigate the impact of unfavorable news on the brand, particularly an ex-Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s recent disclosure of internal information, which has dented its brand influence and user satisfaction. While more than half of adults surveyed stated they despised Zuckerberg.
Some people in the industry are likewise concerned about Meta. They believe that the metaverse is a fantastic epoch-making product, but they are concerned that Zuckerberg’s actions could damage it. If Meta cannot change people’s negative feelings about the metaverse concept and Zuckerberg personally, the company’s attempts to make the metaverse a reality will suffer. The development of the metaverse concept necessitates a high level of confidence and support from potential users; however, if these people are not interested in accessing the company’s primary initiative, then the inter-connected reputations of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, and the wider metaverse could suffer a serious blow. As UK newspaper The Guardian reported, “Facebook has been portrayed emphatically, through its own research, as a company that struggles — willingly or not — to contain the damaging impact of its products on its own users. Indeed, last month Facebook paused development of one product — Instagram Kids — due to the furore caused by the Haugen leaks.”
What’s exciting about the Metaverse concept is that it will involve a high level of integration of blockchain technology with crypto assets, games, and virtual reality, implying that blockchain and crypto will be accepted by a larger number of people. However, the wider tech industry lacks a consistent generally agreed definition of the idea of metaverse. Ironically there is agreement on its inception, coming from Neal Town Stephenson’s science fiction novel “Snow Crash”. For the first time, the notion of a metaverse is used in this novel to describe a digital space beyond the real world. Everyone in this digital space can have their own avatar, which they can use to do anything in the virtual space, such as socializing and controlling their own money.
Following that, many science fiction literature and sci-fi films have imagined how humans can transcend their physical bodies and enter the virtual world. Surprisingly, the films “The Matrix” and “Ready Player One” depict two distinct ways for people to enter the virtual world. “The Matrix” is essentially an imaginative depiction of the relationship between the human brain and the host computer, but “Ready Player One” is about individuals entering the virtual world via the medium of virtual reality, VR for short.
Key to its success are the social functions of metaverse users. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, people were confined to their homes, and as a result everyone’s social needs were magnified. If existing instant messaging tools can integrate metaverse elements to launch new social media products and help build a more diverse online social scene, it will surely disrupt the whole instant messaging software market. Of course, as some have pointed out, the creation of a virtual world for people to inhabit has already come to pass, through Second Life. It too, generated media buzz and brand attention at the time, but that failed to work with users. “There’s a lot of stories like, Adidas came in saying ‘we’ve got to go into Second Life because there’s millions of people and we got to put our billboard in front of them’ and they built a really crappy Adidas mall and nobody showed up,” said Second Life filmmaker Bernhard “Draxtor” Drax in a report from PC Gamer by Natalie Clayton .
There are currently various products on the market that address customers’ social needs by creating virtual scenes and avatars. In the VRChat game, for example, people can establish rooms and utilize virtual characters to converse and play games with one another. Players can also use the software development kit to create their own character models or use VR equipment to do space walks and dances. But as Drax notes, total physical immersion is not the point for many users currently: “The secret sauce of [Second Life] is community. Loads of people feel completely immersed although they have no headset. I am personally psyched about where headset tech goes but Silicon Valley needs to understand that for a lot of people, this does not mean an increased sense of being there. The level of perceived immersion has to do with what people contribute to their communities”.
The metaverse is still in its early stages, and its goal may be to allow individuals to break free from the everyday world and explore who they are in an online environment. However, it appears that this goal is still a long way off. To reach this, there will need to be a high level of interaction between you and the interface, as well as AR, VR, AI, and other technologies, to work together. Clearly DeFi also needs to play a key role in the development of the metaverse, to avoid two versions emerging: one dominated by the likes of Facebook, and the other built on open interoperable platforms. As the PC Gamer article pointed out: “We’re going to keep hearing about metaverses for months to come, but don’t be fooled. The metaverse has been here for years, and it’s already bigger, bolder and more wonderfully bizarre than anything Facebook could hope to offer.”