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What is the metaverse? Why is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual platform in trouble?

The virtual reality idea has been a running joke on the internet since its first reveal. Why are people struggling to get onboard with it?

The virtual reality idea has been a running joke on the internet since its first reveal. Why are people struggling to get onboard with it?

In the social media wars Facebook, under its umbrella company Meta, has been losing. Back in February the company reported a drop in the number of daily users of the app for the first time ever, wiping $200 billion off of its worth, around 25 percent.

“Although the direction is clear our path ahead is not yet clearly defined,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the time, “Last year was about putting a stake in the ground about where we are heading. This year is about execution.”

The stake and execution was further investment into the Metaverse, a virtual world with an all-encompasssing view of the internet and social interactions through virtual reality technology. Zuckerberg has sunk a lot of time into the project and has been the centre of a big marketing push since it was opened with the Quest 2 headset.

It has yet to prove popular. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the majority of users stop returning to the platform after just a month.

Why is the Metaverse struggling?

As mentioned prior there is the initial investment of $400 for the headset. If these came out in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, a time where middle-class savings increased, then perhaps more people would have bought the necessary gear. But now in 2022 a recession is expected in the US and already happening in some countries. The disposable income is not there for the purchase.

These leads to a low player base from the get-go. The servers are unpopulated, worlds empty. The gameplay itself looks devoid of fun with graphics reminiscent of gaming at the turn of the millenium. Check out Jordan Peele trying his best to sound interested in the project.

Is the concept even worthwhile? Once again going back to the pandemic it seemed there would be a necessity for keeping in human contact without real meetings. This shift away from virtual meetings is evidenced in the share price of one of the pandemic’s winners, Zoom. Since restrictions began to be eased at the end of 2020 their share price has shrunk by 86 percent. With covid-19 restrictions all but gone why meet friends in an empty virtual world compared to real life?

Advertising has been littered with borderline lies about what the Metaverse is, where you can do it and what it can offer. The marketing has been full of adverts with disclaimers of “not real VR footage,” or showing actors in the Metaverse while playing in locations that the company itself says are not suitable. You will need a big house or at least a large, open space for the headset to work, something many people simply cannot access.

It has an expensive upfront cost, low user-base, and bland, lifeless content and visuals. At present it’s a recipe for a huge flop. Zuckerberg and Meta will be hoping their great investment will bear fruit, and quickly.