Facebook's Attempt to Control the Metaverse is Called Meta, and It Could Just Work
Have you had your fill of the term "metaverse"?
You can already see 'metaverse' being attached to everything, much like 'cyberspace' was used in the early days of the internet, and 'artificial intelligence has been incorrectly attributed to even the most basic computer functionality over the last five years, especially now that corporations see dollar signs in the next big shift, and potential to capitalize on the knowledge gap that exists between where we are now, and where we, theoretically, will be. Because no one, including businesses, wants to miss the metaverse boat.
Even with all of this talk of new digital worlds, the mechanics of how the metaverse will take shape are still unknown, with platform issues still being worked out. As part of its 'Meta' move, Facebook has stated numerous times that:
The metaverse will not be built by a single corporation. It will be constructed by creators and developers who will create new interoperable experiences and digital objects that will unleash a vastly greater creative economy than the one now confined by today's platforms and policies. But, realistically, somewhere will have to host it, right? Game spaces like Fortnite and Roblox, where users can customize their character avatars, play a variety of games, and engage in other social activities within the app, are examples of how the metaverse will take shape.
This opens up a whole new digital realm of interaction, and it's easy to see how more of these experiences may be included in these digital landscapes to enhance their functionality. But they all begin with a platform — while Fortnite allows you to do a variety of things within the game, you can't take your Fortnite character into Roblox or Minecraft. That's the next level of interoperability, according to Facebook, but to make it happen, a central hosting procedure will be required, as well as coordination between apps and tools to allow platforms to tap into the larger space.
That's why Facebook is so excited about the metaverse concept: it's currently the clear leader in the VR connectivity space, with its formerly Oculus-branded VR worlds taking shape and becoming a more central jumping-off point for meeting up with friends before transitioning into digital experiences. Horizon Worlds, a digital arena where you may connect and engage in the virtual environment, is at the heart of this.
When you add in a major gaming element, such as 'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' (coming to VR soon), an immersive, engaging, and all-encompassing gaming environment, you can see how the metaverse begins to take shape, with your avatars being transferable across different spaces and applications, forming part of your digital identity, and enabling new interactive processes based on these virtual realms. However, in this scenario, Facebook would serve as the core link, striking arrangements with companies like Roblox or Fortnite to allow interoperability. In essence, someone will need to host this space, as well as develop the underlying programming and needs for connecting to the space and enabling broader connection among the many apps.
That's why Facebook is well-positioned to fill that role because each platform and app will need a strong incentive to facilitate the cross-connection of its tools and processes. What would be the point of allowing users to utilize their Facebook avatars in Fortnite's gaming world? Why would Minecraft, which is owned by Microsoft, create a system that can convert your selected avatar into Minecraft block style so you can play its games?
There will have to be a compelling commercial case, and Facebook's metaverse push will enable access to the broadest possible audience via its tools and alternatives, facilitating that connection. Platforms will soon want to collaborate and share cross-code interfaces because it will allow for more users, in-app spending, and other benefits.
As much as Facebook, or more specifically, Meta, would like to downplay the centralized elements and suggest that it won't be the primary metaverse platform of choice, that is exactly the goal - and while Meta goes on to say that the metaverse will be "built by creators and developers creating new experiences and digital items that are interoperable," the truth is that someone will have to throw the party and set up the platform that will allow such connection.
All of the major businesses will be vying for this, but Facebook is ideally positioned to serve as the central connective framework for it all. Facebook's VR worlds, which are already open to developers, are likely to be in the style of a 'Ready Player One' hangout space, with linkages to these other regions within it. No other firm has come close yet, especially given the increasing popularity of Meta's Quest VR systems.
While you may see metaverse-ready remarks on NFTs and businesses (no doubt many of them) touting their metaverse potential, the truth is that they don't have a clear framework with which to construct these tools and processes right now. As part of this new metaverse drive, Zuck and co. will most likely build that framework.
Microsoft could create new digital character models that cater to the new digital identity trend, and NFT characters could potentially be a sign of things to come. But it's too early to call the next step – and, if you're serious about it, you'd be looking to Meta's VR documentation and tools as the most likely place to start.