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Two Insiders Debate the Metaverse

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The Metaverse struggles to keep up with the Megahype.

When the concept is blown

Facebook

renamed to

meta platform Ltd.

Announced a new focus for the business to build an immersive virtual reality metaverse called Horizon Worlds. Like other Metaverse products, the idea is to create an online her community where users can interact, hang out, play games, work, shop, and perform other activities in the form of avatars. That’s it.

But now, about a year later, Horizon users are well below expectations, and there is debate in the tech world about the viability of the metaverse.

Two industry insiders shared their insights at The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference. Phil Libin is the co-founder and CEO of two of his startups, All Turtles Corp., an artificial intelligence company, and He Mmhmm ​​Inc., a video communications company. The two were interviewed by Zoe Thomas, host of The Wall Street Journal’s Tech News Briefing podcast.

An edited version of their conversation follows.

WSJ: It was recently reported that Meta’s Metaverse platform has nearly as many users as the population of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. What’s wrong with the meta, and who is the metaverse for?

Mr. Narula: Many lessons have already been learned from the computer games industry. It’s more like a game than the metaverse idea I’m aware of.

WSJ: Isn’t this the metaverse for gamers?

Mr. Narula: Actually, I don’t think so. Over the last few years, our metaverse business has exploded. None of his customers in this field came from computer games. The reason is that video games already work well. Video games are closed systems of great value.

If you enjoy Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, you’ll enjoy it for years to come. The metaverse is the idea that these experiences can begin to tie together, which is less interesting for gaming companies than sports leagues or fashion brands.

WSJ: Phil, you are skeptical of the metaverse. What are your thoughts on the idea that the Metaverse is for fashion brands and events?

Mr. Living: I think I hate the metaverse. It’s pointless, just like betting on a wide range of technologies. Obviously, at some point someone will build something that will succeed. So, long term, we’re always very bullish on almost any technology.of

Facebook

A vision of the Metaverse, it’s so ridiculous. it makes me sad. it accomplishes nothing.

WSJ: Meta abilities aside. How does the metaverse exist?

Mr. Narula: Let’s start with something easier. Avoid using the term “metaverse.”

What kind of experience do people want? Research shows that they want fulfilling experiences. They want experiences that make them feel empowered, autonomous, or relevant. They want to feel like they are making meaningful choices and building meaningful relationships.

When developing a new product, it is better to give people something more fulfilling than they receive through alternatives such as the real world or video games.

If you’re a fan of Manchester United in Southeast Asia, you’ve probably never been to a match. You never heard the roar of the crowd. You’ve never experienced what it feels like to be surrounded by thousands of other fans or meet your favorite player. it would be worth it.

That’s not what you can have today. So I start with experience. what’s your experience? Why are they useful to people? Why is it useful for businesses? The second question is very important, how are these experiences different from existing video games?

WSJ: Phil, would you buy it? Do you think people want to have the same experience that they can have in real life?

Mr. Living: I think we’re decades and decades ahead of some of that stuff. You can basically have the experience you described of going to a soccer match. You can do that by going to soccer matches. By physically going where you want to go and experiencing what you want to experience, it would be better to create a world where more people can have such experiences.

Perhaps they can live somewhere with more outdoor space and access to recreation. And they have time for life. And I think now, more than at any time in history, is the time to invest in the real world. And don’t try to figure out what you can do with a piece of plastic taped to your face.

Mr. Narula: I want to challenge it. Last year we covered his K-pop star named AleXa. She just won the “American Song Contest” earlier this year. And she had never given a concert before. she was very nervous. And for the first time trapped her in her virtual space with thousands of her international K-pop fans.

And then the strangest thing happened. She began interacting with them in ways she never would in the real world. They were all jumping on her in the large crowd. She was giggling. In the real world, guards slam them to the ground and drag them out.

What we have found is that there is no way to replace the real world. But there are experiences that can enhance the fulfillment that people need and crave. Considering the wealthy people of the world, indeed, the Metaverse may not seem very worthwhile if you can already meet celebrities and experience sporting events whenever you want. But if you can get something like this on your phone (forget Meta’s obsession with VR headsets) and give people this satisfying experience, especially sports leagues, fashion brands, It’s a very interesting business for celebrities who are incredibly unmonetized.

WSJ: Brands entering this

Nike,

coca cola,

loreal,

Will they regret investing in the metaverse?

Mr. Living: yes. Especially Nike, people in the Metaverse don’t even have feet.

VR is a dead end. There are certain experiences that make sense in VR. They have less experience and have been with us for 20 years. There are no meaningful new innovations in VR. There is a misconception that what people want is more immersion.

In fact, most of the time people don’t want to be immersed. As such, most of us spend most of our time on the least immersive device possible rather than sitting in front of a big TV. That is why his 3D movies, which have appeared since the 60s, never replaced regular ones.

Immersion that tricks your senses into thinking you’re in another reality isn’t actually a good experience most of the time. As such, there are very few 360° VR videos. Storytelling becomes difficult in this environment. Anything of this sort is bad. We do not hold VR meetings. I’m not going to meet a colleague looking at a cartoon avatar with something on my face. i’m not going to do that.

WSJ: What about ARs?

Mr. Living: Augmented reality is great. Well, it’s still not great. Almost non-existent now. has very high potential. And when you have headsets and you can wear things that aren’t much bigger than glasses and you can actually see all of you with your eyeballs, you don’t want to give up hundreds of millions of years of evolution so I can see your face in real life. Having eyes to permanently block them when you can see into them. Extending or superimposing things as a way of improving rather than replacing the current reality. Sure, there are all sorts of use cases.

Mr. Narula: Immersion is the wrong goal. Immersion is the feeling that the world is real. Take a look at the more successful games of the last few years. “Fortnite”, “Roblox”, “Minecraft”. It looks less polished than the previous games. why is that? Because it’s not about being immersed. A well-defined, well-functioning, investable metaverse promise is not a VR headset. Presence. The idea is that we can interact with the world in a more interesting way.

And that exchange brings a fulfilling experience.

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