A few years ago, Facebook changed its name to Meta. It gave rise to two things: a massive increase in the interest in Metaverse, and it created confusion surrounding Metaverse.
However, even though Facebook’s new name is inspired by it, Facebook and its Horizon World aren’t the Metaverse. In fact, the real Metaverse doesn’t exist yet.
Metaverse doesn’t exist yet:
Many news articles and blog posts write as if Metaverse already exists; however, it doesn’t. At this time, it’s in the early conceptual phase, and there’s no company working in collaboration to make it a reality.
The idea of virtual worlds and augmented reality is nothing new. The word — Metaverse — was coined in 1992, and since 2003 we have Second Life. But virtual worlds are not Metaverse.
There are various virtual worlds (VW) such as VRChat, Horizon Worlds, Microsoft’s Mesh, Minecraft, Fortnite, Decentraland, etc. But currently, these are disconnected from each other.
Furthermore, we can’t transfer our digital assets from one VW to another. Metaverse will become a reality only if these virtual worlds become interconnected and provide interoperability.
When a company connects all its PCs to an internal network, it doesn’t create the internet. Similarly, a single virtual world such as Horizon Worlds is not Metaverse.
Without interoperability, these VWs are nothing but VR apps similar to Second Life.
Metaverse has another crucial criterion. Any company that wants to be part of the Metaverse must allow its users to access it through any platform such as PC, Web browser, phone, Table, AR, VR, console devices. Unfortunately, no company’s virtual world has this type of functionality.
Facebook’s Horizon Worlds:
Facebook’s Horizon World is not the Metaverse. It’s a universe in it. There can be millions of universes in a Metaverse. For example, there are millions of websites, but Facebook.com isn’t the internet.
The Horizon Worlds is nothing but a VR app running on oculus. It’s no different than VRChat, Decentraland, or Second Life.
We are still in the early phase of Metaverse creation. We don’t know its future. No single company can create it, and Facebook knows it. It’s why Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly says that they want to be a pioneer Metaverse company.
There’s a subtle difference. There are internet and internet companies. Similarly, there will be Metaverse and Metaverse companies, and Facebook will be one of them. No one will own the Metaverse.
Will Horizon Worlds Fail?
Not every product a company makes becomes a major hit. For example, Google has launched many products over the years, but a lot of them failed. Google Glass, the Balloon internet project, modular phones, Google+, etc., all failed even though the concept and benefit of these products were huge.
Oculus, Horizon World is Mark’s passion. It’s why he is pushing it. But both the VR and virtual worlds are old technology. It never became mainstream. Only a niche community avidly uses it.
There was a time when 3D movie theater and 3D TV were a buzzword, but eventually, they failed as a product.
For the last 20 years, the virtual world has failed to attract users. So why would it be different this time?
Facebook’s Horizon Worlds doesn’t fix problems:
The fundamental goal of any product is to fix our real-world problems and make our lives easier.
For example, the Uber app is popular because it automates the ride-hailing process. Netflix and other streaming services now allow us to watch TV shows and movies on-demand without ads. Similarly, GPS, iPhones, the internet, Facebook, etc., made our lives more enjoyable that’s why these products are successful.
Facebook, Twitter, Reddit are some of the most popular forums, but Google+ failed. It’s because Google+ served us nothing special.
A successful product must save users time, money and reduce physical activity. Facebook’s Horizon Worlds does none of these.
In various interviews, Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly said that we would hold virtual meetings, shop, attend concerts in the Metaverse one day. But these neither save our time nor make our life easier. Using Zoom, Amazon, UberEats is far easier.
Even though it would not be necessary to use a VR device to access the Metaverse, Facebook is moving forward with its Oculus Quest VR headsets.
The VR experience is excellent. But there’s one problem. VR induced headaches, nausea, and an eyesore in many users. So, VR is physically taxing. A 3D TV with 3D glass also causes these symptoms, and it’s why they never took off.
We don’t need any physical activity when we watch TV, play video games, or use our phones. The core concept of relaxation is to enjoy without physical activity. But VR apps and games demand body movement. Initially, it’s fun. But for most people, it isn’t. After a long workday, everyone wants to relax that Metaverse and VR devices wouldn’t provide.
Microsoft’s Mesh, Decentraland, Minecraft, Horizon Worlds, Second Life, etc., none of these are Metaverse. When Metaverse becomes a reality, these will be part of it. Facebook is nothing but one of the companies trying to be part of the Metaverse.