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Wednesday 16 February 2022
Meta wants to sell us the metaverse without saying what it is
Meta (FB) Facebook’s parent is banking on the metaverse to save it from user limits and competition from TikTok. But the social media giant missed its first real chance to give the world a glimpse into the metaverse during its bizarre Super Bowl Sunday announcement.
The ad was 1 minute and 46 seconds long and featured a group of retired, Chuck E. Cheese-esque animators coming together for new adventures in the Metaverse. But Meta has only set aside 20 seconds of the ad to showcase its metaverse app, Horizon Worlds.
Also, those 20 seconds didn’t even include Horizon Worlds footage. Instead, Meta provided us with computer-generated graphics that made the digital world and user avatars more interactive and lively than they really are.
And while Meta spends billions to create its own metaverse, or a series of online connected worlds, that doesn’t tell us what we’re going to do there.
It wasn’t just the Meta that fell flat on its face while showing users the potential of the metaverse. Miller Lite (TAP), which cannot play Super Bowl ads thanks to Anheuser Busch’s (BUD) relationship with the NFL, hosted a meeting in the metaverse app Decentraland. But the virtual bar didn’t offer much entertainment, with no games and few people to chat with.
Then there was the Foo Fighters post-game party, which consisted of users watching a pre-recorded 2D show in a virtual hall.
Meta confusing message
Let’s start with a meta announcement. Over the past two years, the company formerly known as Facebook has invested $20 billion in developing its metaverse hardware and software. The Quest 2, one of the most popular headphones on the market, seems to be selling well; Meta previously reported that Quest 2’s content revenue has already crossed $1 billion.
But the Meta Super Bowl ad did not highlight the allure of the Metaverse. The company basically said “we’ll be able to meet in the virtual world” pretty soon. But we’ve already been meeting for almost over two years now via Zoom. Few people enjoy these encounters.
“This publicity [was a] complete crash. It was done poorly in what they were thinking?” Jennifer Dewinter, a professor at Worcester Polytechnic, told Yahoo Finance.
When CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially presented his vision for Meta in October, he demonstrated a kind of holodeck-like experience where we’d be able to roam virtual worlds, playing games with friends. What we saw in the company’s announcement was nothing of the sort, rather it’s more like a glorified social network that forces you to wear a huge headphone.
Miller Lite bar and Foo Fighters fail
Meanwhile, Miller Lite has given Decentraland users its very own Super Bowl experience with a virtual bar that you can “drink” from during the big game. But it seemed more of a cheap attraction than the future of advertising.
Once you get a “card” from the bouncer at the bar door, you’ve entered a space with pool tables, beer taps, arcade games, and a bunch of gadgets in the back. However, when you “interact” with each object, you only get predefined noises or animations. You can’t actually play any of the games.
I can forgive Miller Lite though. It’s a beer brand, not a company that puts its future in the metaverse. On the other hand, Meta not only smelled his publicity but also missed his virtual Foo Fighters concert after the Super Bowl.
Instead of a 3D concert, the Foo Fighters event was presented as a 2D scene you watched from a virtual balcony. You can’t interact with the concert, and Meta seems to be giving preferential treatment to the Facebook Live version of the concert rather than the metaverse event.
The paparazzi chased the group throughout the entire time of the 2D broadcast, removing any sense of immersion, you know, for the metaverse release and server issues on the Meta side slowing down the login process.
As Kent Bay, host of podcasts from VR Voices, said, Meta’s focus on its own software could alienate new users who might have a good experience using third-party software.
“The problem is that Meta has chosen to promote its own proprietary apps, which are half-baked, not ready for prime time, not compelling and not even very aggressive in the software industry. Virtual reality,” Bye told Yahoo Finance.
The problem with Meta, according to Bye, is that it doesn’t really know how to create premium, high-quality content.
“Meta is a platform provider and a private developer. They have not been able to successfully launch proprietary apps on their own,” he explained. “Any successful app they got was obtained from other people.”
If the Metaverse, whether it’s a Meta version or any other version, is going to take off, it’s going to have to start offering more niche experiences to consumers like 2D concerts. I’ve seen other VR parties where I’ve been able to reach out to artists rather than hold them back. And even though those concerts were still taped and I couldn’t interact with the singers, they were still more immersive than watching a video on the big screen.
“There’s nothing overwhelming about bringing the TV screen closer to your eyes,” de Winter said.
If Meta fails to figure out how to make the Metaverse more attractive beyond its current offerings, it risks losing consumers from the jump — and the company will also lose all the money it poured into this new universe.
by Daniel Holly, technical writer at Yahoo Finance. follow him Tweet embed
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