October 17, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of October 17, 2022

In this week’s highlights, recent stories on developments at Meta are interesting but ultimately disappointing. Internal reports show that even Meta’s employees refuse to use the company’s Horizon Metaverse, which failed to meet annual targets. Since Meta has become associated with the metaverse itself, these setbacks affect the sector. Some are pushing for a version of the metaverse that does not incorporate virtual reality.

Nonetheless, other companies are progressing rapidly and creating more content, from Roblox to Polygon. With hundreds of millions of users, Minecraft is expanding its education platform for classrooms. Web3 media brands are surging in popularity, taking on larger incumbents. The Warner Music Group announced a partnership with OpenSea, which will connect artists to web3 and NFT services designed to help their brand, thereby making large incumbents obsolete.

All these announcements show that, for all the problems faced by Meta, the sector as a whole remains on the rise. The question then becomes: If Mark Zuckerberg does not capture the Internet of tomorrow, who will succeed where he failed?

  • Nearly a year after Mark Zuckerberg rebranded Facebook as Meta Platforms Inc. in a bet-the-company move on the metaverse, internal documents show the transition grappling with glitchy technology, uninterested users, and a lack of clarity about what it will take to succeed.
  • While Mr. Zuckerberg has said the transition to a more immersive online experience would take years, the company’s flagship metaverse offering for consumers, Horizon Worlds, is falling short of internal performance expectations.
  • Meta initially set a goal of reaching 500,000 monthly active users for Horizon Worlds by the end of this year, but in recent weeks revised that figure to 280,000. The current tally is less than 200,000, the documents show.

The New York Times, The Era of the Paywalled Restaurant is Upon Us (subscription)

  • As long as there have been high-status, celebrity-studded restaurants, people clamored to get into them, working contacts, making phone calls, and greasing palms.
  • But a new generation of tactics has emerged to help would-be diners jump the line, including latter-day concierge services, NFTs granting holders special privileges, members-only credit card perks, and private “clubstaurants.” What they all have in common is that they will cost you.
  • “Restaurants began as places to show off status,” said Andrew P. Haley, an associate professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi. This is merely the continuation of a historical trend.

  • Could it be that the metaverse doesn’t require VR after all? For now, even with headsets, the current technology leaves some people cold—apparently including people paid to work on VR at Meta itself. Recent internal memos written by Shah and leaked to the Verge, admit that Horizon Worlds is plagued with “quality gaps and performance issues.”
  • And Meta is having difficulty getting its engineers to meet in VR, despite orders from above that they must do so. “The simple truth is, if we don’t love it, how can we expect our users to love it?” Shah wrote. Maybe they’ll love the web version more.
  • By contrast, Microsoft already has over 100 million customers in the metaverse through Minecraft, which Microsoft bought in 2014 for $2.5 billion. While VR versions of Minecraft are available, most users access it sans headsets. And they seem pretty happy.

  • With a recession on the horizon, brands are not pulling back on their metaverse-marketing spending — but few of them seem to agree about what exactly it is.
  • Over the past year, different parts of the tech industry have laid claims to the metaverse, most prominently the gaming industry, which believes that the metaverse will arise out of pre-existing virtual game worlds, and the Web3 sector, which argues that the metaverse must be built on top of blockchain infrastructure if it hopes to succeed.
  • Lately, the gaming sector appears to be winning this battle — as far as brand partnerships are concerned, at least. As NFT sales dry up, marketers have continued to pump money into gaming partnerships with esports organizations and proto-metaverse platforms such as Roblox and Fortnite.

  • Formula One is looking to establish itself within the Web3 ecosystem with eight recently filed trademarks for its globally recognized “F1” abbreviation.
  • According to licensed trademark attorney Mike Kondoudis, the race-car league filed eight trademark applications on Oct. 5 covering cryptocurrency, nonfungible tokens (NFTs), crypto marketplaces, retail stores for virtual goods, cryptocurrency trading and mining, and blockchain financial transactions.
  • Beyond software, Formula One also plans to offer retail store services in virtual goods and provide an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

  • Web3 media remains in its infancy, but it’s just reached one important milestone: Becoming cool. That’s thanks to a piece in the fall issue of the Mars Review of Books by the hip-in-lit-circles writer Tao Lin, best known for the 2013 novel “Taipei.” The quarterly literary review, launched in May on the web3 platform Urbit, is one of a smattering of projects taking root on the decentralized web that could one day prove as disruptive to media as digital assets are to finance.
  • Urbit, which has been described as a “digital homestead” platform, allows individual users to own their servers and maintain a single online identity across applications. The Mars Review is native to Urbit, though it also publishes on the Web and in paper.
  • Web3 enthusiasts believe that projects like this will offer more than just a new kind of back end for publishing: Blockchains and related technology, they argue, can make content censorship-resistant and give creators more ownership of their work. Even as a back end, they see transformative potential in new blockchain-based economic models such as micropayments to writers.

  • Experienced on the web or mobile devices, virtual environments are immersive spaces in the metaverse that come alive in virtual reality. “It’s a shared experience that everyone in the world can have,” says Michael Potts, CEO of 3D design agency Polycount.io.
  • For Vogue Singapore’s September issue, Potts was part of the team that created Vogue’s New World, a vivid 360-degree virtual dreamscape in hues of pastel purple. Transporting into the surreal world as fully customizable avatars, users can explore their surroundings, interact with objects in the space and engage in full-fledged conversations in real-time through their microphones and cameras.
  • Potts predicts that the next frontier of retail is on the metaverse. “The most important thing is that it allows brands to meet their customers where they are,” Potts explains. “Instead of you having to have come to us, we’ll come to you. We’ll have our store in your house, we’ll have our incredible showroom in your living room.”

  • Warner Music Group is partnering with OpenSea marketplace, the music entertainment company said in a Thursday press release. The collaboration will provide a platform for select WMG artists to build and extend their fan communities in Web3.
  • “Fundamental to music’s DNA is community – it’s artists and fans coming together to celebrate the music that they love,” Oana Ruxandra, Chief Digital Officer & EVP, Business Development at WMG, says.
  • Additionally, according to Warner Music Group, its artists will access OpenSea’s new drops product early. This will come with improved discoverability and storytelling on customized landing pages. It also includes OpenSea’s industry-leading safety and security features.
  • “For artists and musicians, NFTs represent a new creative medium and a mechanism to build community, engage directly with fans, and express themselves across borders and languages,” says Shiva Rajaraman, OpenSea’s Vice President of Product.

  • Venues have to choose between the demands of large and powerful ticketing providers or cheaper and less secure options for ticketing. The variability in security around ticket authentication creates opportunities for ticket counterfeiters and scammers to do what they do best, extract value from the venues, artists, sports teams, and fans.
  • Without portraying blockchain technology as some ultimate panacea, NFTs are very well-suited for disrupting or enhancing live event ticketing. Emerging companies like token proof and Ethpass are already addressing these problems head-on by providing simple solutions for gated ticketing and verification. For example, tokenproof’s mobile app for iOS and Android allows scanning and verification for NFTs using a simple QR code.
  • NFTs can serve as the access key, the collector’s item, and the identifier. NFT Ticket holders can also be airdropped with new tokens automatically. These new tokens can serve as a memento or as new keys for accessing additional experiences.

  • Cruising through its eleventh year, Minecraft is more popular than ever, with an active player count of nearly 172 million in August 2022 alone. But there’s more to the game than building castles and slashing Creepers.
  • September saw the full release of Minecraft Education Edition, which has been available in beta since 2016. Over those six years, the game has become a powerful platform for interdisciplinary learning on various topics, from climate change to literature to indigenous cultures. It shares all the same features and functionality of “bedrock” Minecraft, with more stringent privacy and safety tools — and a library chock-full of educational resources and experiences.
  • For Head of Minecraft Education Allison Matthews, the potential of a metaverse doesn’t lie in branding opportunities or flogging NFTs. It’s about making the world a better place. And that starts with an education that cultivates empathy.

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