Jun 27, 2023
In the realm of virtual reality and immersive experiences, the concept of the 'metaverse' has been making waves. Adopted by Mark Zuckerberg in his ambitious vision for the future of digital connectivity, the term has sparked excitement and fuelled speculation about a vast interconnected virtual reality space.
The term was first coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash. In the novel, the metaverse is depicted as a virtual reality-based successor to the internet, where users can interact with each other and navigate through various virtual worlds. We are huge fans of Neal Stephenson’s, and even had the privilege of hosting him in Wellington a few years ago. But while his philosophies of virtual world building have certainly influenced our work, we don’t believe there will be a true metaverse any time soon.
However, we believe it's crucial to examine the current state of technology and the complexities involved in constructing such a grandiose concept. We can see the potential pitfalls of hyping up the metaverse and want to encourage a more realistic discussion about the path towards immersive virtual worlds that truly deliver unprecedented opportunities for digital social interactions and shared experiences.
Words like Metaverse have the power to create a hype cycle that can be detrimental to game development companies and virtual world builders. There is a common misconception that any development in virtual reality equates to building the metaverse, which simply isn't the case. It is essential to manage these expectations and educate consumers and customers about the current limitations of technology and the gradual progression towards a more interconnected digital realm.
While dreaming big and envisioning a long-term future is admirable, it is unrealistic to expect that a single company—even Meta—can build a fully interoperable digital world. The metaverse requires a vast ecosystem of technologies, standards, and collaborations between various stakeholders. It necessitates a space platform that supports multiple technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), PC, mobile, and more to enable seamless experiences across devices. Achieving this level of interconnectedness is a monumental task that cannot be solely accomplished by a single entity.
Many experts in the field are already dismissing the term metaverse. This dismissal stems from the fact that the concept itself is largely unbuilt, and there is little agreement on how it will actually work. As an industry, we are still in the nascent stages of exploring the possibilities and refining the technologies that will shape the future of virtual worlds. Unrealistic expectations surrounding the metaverse can lead to disillusionment when immediate results fail to materialise.
At Beyond, we thrive on big, ambitious visions and the potential of technology to advance rapidly. We firmly believe in the impact that advancements in VR, AR, and related technologies will have on our lives. However, we are cautious about using terms that set unrealistic expectations, leading to disappointment, mistrust, or a sense of overhyping. It is crucial to communicate the possibilities and limitations of immersive experiences in a responsible manner, aligning customer expectations with the current state of the industry.
While the grandiose vision of the metaverse may not manifest anytime soon, we are committed to building immersive virtual worlds that deliver extraordinary experiences and foster digital social interactions. Our focus lies in leveraging the current technologies and tools available to create engaging, interactive, and socially-driven virtual experiences. By focusing on incremental advancements and realistic goals, we can shape the future of immersive technology without overpromising or setting unattainable expectations.
The concept of the metaverse has captured the imagination of many, including industry giants like Meta. However, it is crucial to approach this idea with a critical mindset, recognising the complexities involved in constructing a fully interoperable digital world. By managing expectations, embracing responsible communication, and focusing on building immersive virtual worlds within the current technological landscape, we can navigate the hype and deliver exceptional experiences to our consumers and customers. Let us continue to dream big, but let us also tread carefully, ensuring that our aspirations align with the realities of our industry, and accept that Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse will not manifest anytime soon.