back to article The metaverse of fantasy worlds is itself still a fantasy

The state of the metaverse, says Forrester, is that there isn't one. Yet. In a report out now, the analyst house concluded hype, and corporate fears over being left out, are the only elements of the metaverse that have actually emerged. At the same time, Forrester also warned businesses to be ready just in case this thing …

  1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    One Metaverse To Rule Them All

    I bet that interoperability is the first thing Zuck thought of - and he'll have a top team of lawyers working on it to make sure that the concept is strangled before it's born so that **his** metaverse the only one. He's not the sharing type.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: One Metaverse To Rule Them All

      Just wait until some dumbasses have fatal accidents (or starve) due to becoming addicted and forgetting the real universe is what really counts. (We'll call them something like "metaheads".) Something akin to the present rise in pedestrian accidents due to people walking around with their eyes glued to cell phones, but on steroids. Then we'll hear all the politicians say "Think of the children." and regulations will be forthcoming. Ain't technology fun?

      1. PriorKnowledge

        .The Internet is where religion goes to die

        It follows that the metaverse would be where politicians go to die. Assuming that the metaverse develops long after other VR/AR technologies are mature, then politicians will have a very hard time influencing anyone long-term.

        UK politicians make many assumptions in order to govern:

        * That all companies have physical addresses to be able to register

        * That living humans (living at physical addresses) run companies

        * That companies trade using legal tender, rather than direct barter

        * That all income and expenditure runs through at least one domestic company


        The metaverse threatens that by making it possible to hire anyone from any country, paying them using currencies not tied to any given nation state, or through corporate partnerships offering direct trade instead. This includes physical labour tasks performed through the use of robotics, where any tasks which are not (yet) doable using machine learning could instead be performed by having a human remote control things instead.

        I can see "robot taxes" and other legal instruments being used as a means to stifle true innovation for as long as politicians possibly can, until the metaverse devours them.

    2. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: One Metaverse To Rule Them All

      "He's not the sharing type.

      Of course he is. You are more than welcome to share all of your personal data with his companies.

      Don't ask for any of his in return though.

  2. NoneSuch Silver badge

    There is no spoon.

    I'm a big time VR fanatic, but I want nothing to do with Facebook / META.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is no spoon.

      Agreed - I dropped my Rift CV1 like a hot rock when they announced a FB account was going to be required and bought a Valve Index instead.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "hype, and corporate fears over being left out, are the only elements of the metaverse that have actually emerged. At the same time, Forrester also warned businesses to be ready just in case this thing takes off"

    We're just quietly sitting here. On this fence.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course the Metaverse is a fantasy - Zuck's fantasy. A fantasy where all the millions of Facebook users have to buy Meta-branded VR goggles to continue sharing cat videos...

    1. Michael Habel

      Been there done that. Its not everything it was cracked up to be, as was much the case with 3DTVs.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missed The Boat

    I just don't get it:

    I guess thats why I am not one of these Cryptocurrency millionaires with money to speculate on virtual real estate.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Second Life

    Isn't this just Second Life again? Is Zuck also coming up with Zuck Dollars too for his own in game cash?

    1. Smeagolberg

      Re: Second Life

      Or Habbo Hotel.

    2. Xalran

      Re: Second Life

      It's either that or the virtual universe from Ready Player One.

    3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Second Life

      Apparently Second Life is still a thing. A thing that has been going since 2003, and if we're being honest, is still rather niche. I guess because it's just not that useful. If I have spare time, I do things in the real world. I don't bother turning my web cam on for Teams meetings, nobody needs to see my ugly mug, and really wouldn't put much effort into designing an avatar. So I don't see what a metaverse brings.

  7. Howard Sway Silver badge

    If your boss is bugging you about this tech, here's how to respond

    Metaverse? Tron, but shitter.

    1. sreynolds

      Re: If your boss is bugging you about this tech, here's how to respond

      I'd report him to the board for an psych evaluation.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: If your boss is bugging you about this tech, here's how to respond

        The board will very likely think he's talking sense.

  8. Tromos

    Two cohorts?

    Make that three. Missed out digital criminals.

  9. Not Yb Bronze badge

    Seriously though... if you're expecting game companies to work together to solve the metaverse problem, there's a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in purchasing. Facebook? That's definitely going to be a walled garden with interoperability with other 3D systems ignored.

    It took decades before CAD software devs even began to be interoperable, and the main reason for that was "One company bought out most of the others and got tired of dealing with complaints".

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      And that's piss poor

      Even today, about the only "interoperable" CAD file format for parts are STEP files, and they are geometry only.

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        Re: And that's piss poor

        Yeah I was just about to say you obviously havent tried to implement a change in CAD systems if you think there even remotely interoperable.

        I'm living through a handover from CATIA V5 to NX right now, and basically, we're effectively remodelling anything that will be needed now or in the future, because the migrated data is f%&king useless.

        So stp files are an acceptable way to share info between firms (and the stripping out of all the details is actually a relatively good thing for holding on to company secrets), but interoperable they most certainly are not...

  10. vtcodger Silver badge

    Who Me?

    This Metaverse thing is an interesting concept. And I suspect it -- if not Zuck's. someone else's -- will be great for porn, thus pretty much guaranteeing its success. I'll be interested in seeing how it plays out.

    Am I personally going to participate in the Metaversian Revolution? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Who Me?

      Well, let's make one thing clear : if the porn industry does not adopt the concept, it is dead in the water.

      Porn is what has made the Internet as useful as it is.

      Porn is the reason why you can purchase stuff on web sites.

      Porn pushed all it could to get that to happen because it was in its interest to have people buying anonymously.

      So, if porn finds this metaverse thing interesting, it will happen, otherwise, it won't because nobody else has the incentive to make it work.

      1. Michael Habel

        Re: Who Me?

        Who says the haven't they even adopted 3D(TV), back in the day. Well If I have to paint you a picture of how well that turned out.....

    2. Michael Habel

      Re: Who Me?

      I take it you haven't actually tried to use a Quest to watch thse Cat Videos befor have you? Much like a VR Demo.... It's kinda cute... For about Five Minutes, then it gets old FAST!

  11. Filippo Silver badge

    I'm surprised that Forrester doesn't list, among the things that are still missing, the most glaring one: solid use cases.

    Right now, when I am in a conference call, more often than not, participants (including me) can't be bothered to switch on the video feed. Why would I want to put on a VR headset? No, really, what would the point be? So I can point at a chart on a virtual whiteboard in a virtual office? Isn't that delivering exactly the same information content as sharing my desktop in Teams (or whatever), only about ten times more fiddly and distracting?

    And that's ignoring the technical and practical issues.

    Exactly why should the "metaverse" succeed where Second Life has failed?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Not to mention ten times the bandwidth.

      We're still in a world where fiber and GB/s connections are not universal.

      1. My-Handle Silver badge

        This is the real killer, IMO. I'm on a 2Mbps connection at home - even a normal video call is difficult. Online gaming is generally impractical.

        And I'm not the only one.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      On calls I don't use a camera and I disable incoming video feeds, which I find incredibly distracting. I suspect this says as much about me as it does about the technology but I find video calls significantly less productive than normal meetings and the temptation to use spare cycles for, er, other purposes is pretty big.

      With normal meetings I guess you have to factor things like travel, etc. in but I still find them more effective if the personal aspect can be taken into consideration, only possible in small meetings. Video calls have been possible since the early 1970s have consistently managed to disappoint. They can be useful as ice breakers at the start of a call but after that audio plus screensharing is generally best.

      There are plenty of opportunities for VR in medicine, engineering, education and games, but they're all going to be self-contained with little need for interoperability beyond the usual needs for standardisation.

      The bet by Silicon Valley is that immersive experience of games will spill out into other fields: you'll take a break from Fornite or Minecraft to hold a video call or remotely fix a valve.

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        My 2c on Video calls vs meetings in person.

        Large Meetings in person are only marginally better than large meetings on video calls. The vast majority of people just end up sitting around either waiting for their turn to speak, or trying not to fall asleep. Some of the little breakaways you can get during breaks are good, but to be honest your time would normally be better used having lots of meetings of 3-5 people then 1 big meeting involving everyone.

        On video calls, I also dont use a camera, but more for the reason, that anytime I'm having a meeting, either I or someone in the meeting is sharing their desktop and we're all discussing that. Why do I need to see people's faces for that? In a firm where not everyone has a laptop, an online meeting can be much better than an in person meeting, because everyone has access to their computers and can share the necessary work. I think we have all had meetings, where someone who doesnt have a laptop, says, "Oh yeah I have all that info, I can send it out later." when that info is exactly what needs to be discussed in the meeting. Annoying and often invalidates the entire point of the meeting.

        So i guess what I'm trying to say is that Video Meetings can be great when done properly, but can also be a complete waste of time. So basically, the same as Physical meetings. Each has their place, and each requires preparation and planning. Something that so many people seem to forget...

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          I think we agree that large meetings, whether in person or online, are generally inefficient for the reasons you list.

  12. Potemkine! Silver badge

    What a real metaverse would look like

    It would look like the web, but worse: a jungle of creepy people believing they can act as arseholes because they think they are anonymous. Harassment, hatred, exploitation, scams, attacks would be the everyday experience.

    No thanks. World is shitty enough IRL.

  13. onefang

    'What has yet to emerge is the most essential part, from Forrester's perspective: the interoperability needed to turn siloed metaverse spaces – spaces provided by individual tech giants – into a seamless experience for users. "The fully federated metaverse will contain standard protocols for the presence, persistence, and transfer of identity and assets," Forrester said.'

    You mean like OpenSim and it's hypergrid protocol that allows you to travel to other OpenSim worlds, transfer identities and assets, and provide presence services persistently? We have been doing that for over a decade.

    OpenSim is an open source clean room implementation of Second Life. The same viewers work on both. There are at least three VR viewers that I know of, I wrote one of them before the first Oculus Rift was released to consumers. So most of the things this "new" metaverse says it will be has been around for at least the 16 years Second Life has been running.

    I even made a parody of The Zuckerverse metaverse that I call metaverse farted, any one on a hypergrid enabled OpenSim world can travel there. Their identity and avatar will be transferred there, then transferred back when they go home. They can pick up and leave any assets they desire. They can make friends with any actual members of that world (OK, there's only one member for now), or any other visitors from other worlds. They can get presence announcements for these new friends. The entire world will persist for as long as I decide to keep it running (I've been running OpenSim based worlds for over a decade). Any assets they take with them will persist for as long as their home world keeps running.

    Only took me three hours to make that parody world. The Zuckerverse set a really low bar to get down to quality wise, I'm 61, I can't limbo like I used to.

  14. lglethal Silver badge

    What has yet to emerge is the most essential part, from Lglethal's perspective:

    An actual use case...

    Until that arrives, it's all just a pipedream...

  15. src

    Most boring?

    Which is more tedious: metaverse or bitcoin?

    1. Pascal

      Re: Most boring?

      Definitely bitcoin, without a shadow of a doubt.

      Simply because nobody in the office keeps explaining to everyone how awesome and futuristic the metaverse is -- since nobody gives a rat's ass about it.

  16. batfink

    Ah yes...

    ...the same arguments that are regularly put forward for 3D TV/movies. It's new! It's exciting! Better start making your 3D content now or you'll be left behind!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Is only me to be glad that the last who designed a working universe...

    ... was not an ads-slinging company making money only trying to convince you to buy things you don't need?

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Is only me to be glad that the last who designed a working universe...

      I'm not so certain your right there. Have you seen the number of Televangelists on TV in America?

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Is only me to be glad that the last who designed a working universe...

      This is the logical next step. Sell you virtual things you don't need. One needs to be a well-dressed avatar, so you'll need virtual wardrobes and make-over services.

      Or exciting sponsorship opportunities. Your avatar will be kitted out in a full set of Deliveroo branded gear. Changing into another outfit will cost $30, plus cost of those clothes. Plain t-shirts start from only $99.95 for a week's rental.

  18. localzuk Silver badge

    So as far as I can tell

    The idea will be a 3D internet. But as its being pushed purely by companies, it'll be a bunch of walled gardens, and no doubt things like moving assets between services will involve a cost. Getting any assets in the first place will involve a cost too - either buying them from said companies, or paying to be allowed to import your own.

    Its all about milking money, not about creating a true collaboration environment.

  19. CommonBloke

    It's amazing

    It's really amazing how peddling Second Life 2.0 or VR Chat by FaceMetaBook straight to the profit seekers is generating so much hype. You never see any company giving a single thought about "who's actually going to be there?"

    Who are the users and when are they coming? Truly amazing that everyone that boarded the hype train forgot to ask this question.

    And then the small detail that every company will want their own siloed metaverse because F you, competition!

    Much like cryptocurrencies, it's all talk and zero actual use. Hell, at least cryptocoins have some use: money laundering and ransomware payment.

    1. Sixtiesplastictrektableware

      Re: It's amazing

      Look, I really hate to do this, but...

      I work in a warehouse with this guy that's doing all that bit-crypto-coin-digging stuff. He's banking part-time job money as he works full-time.

      I cognitively checked out when it got to "here's a copy of my wallet". I don't want to have to grapple with ontological object permanence of stuff or money. However, I fully admit to having little purpose in this century (warehouseman) and no insight towards new/revised cultural phenoms.

      Just... that cybercash thing seems to work, if you can suspend your corporeal notions of value. And yes, I am acutely aware of how idiotic that statement is.

      1. CommonBloke

        Re: It's amazing

        > Just... that cybercash thing seems to work

        Money is already mostly digital. In many places, the majority of transactions happen via credit/debit card or bank app transferences, which makes a value in an account go up while another goes down.

        Cryptocoins, however, didn't solve any real problems so far.

  20. Jonjonz

    All connected, interoperable, never going to happen. The only business plan Zuckzombie and his ilk understand is the walled garden. Online multiplayer platforms and games do everything they can to keep all monetization/value withing that entity. You think Zuckzombie or Activision is going to say yes to third party gold sellers?

  21. Sixtiesplastictrektableware

    Point Avoider

    What happens when all the meatbags go virty and we get space alien invaded? Do we leave poor meatbags to guard the virty meatbags? Seems a shitty job, why wouldn't they side with the space aliens for a better deal?

    Plenty of ways I can imagine this going hinky. Even without space aliens.

  22. J. Cook Silver badge

    While Second Life does allow you import your own assets (clothing, body shapes, etc.) they charge you in their virtual currency. Per upload. (or at least, they used to back in 2004 or so when I did it.) I have no idea if they still do, or if the fee changed.

    The only use case I really came up with for Second Life was that it was a multi-player online sandbox for socializing and role playing. (I mean, you should see some of the avatars people have come up with that still have a humanoid base- You want to be a Bugs Bunny clone? Null sweat, there's at least a dozen different people selling pre-made outfits in a variety of styles. How about a Synth? Yep, there's even a spiffy control pad to customize what your avatar is doing in real time. Want to walk around looking like a giant dong? As long as the region and whoever owns the land you are on allow it, sure.

    If anything, Second Life is what the Metaverse from Snow Crash might have looked like in an early iteration.

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