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Meta and Google work on their strategies (2022)

By Tom Ffiske
VR/AR and metaverse analysis every Wednesday and Sunday // 15 May 2022 

Replaying Elden Ring, this time with a magic build. The game has a particular pull to it.

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Looking at Meta and Google

Since last Wednesday, we have seen two stories that profile different focuses on immersive technologies. The first is Meta scaling back its Reality Labs ahead of heavy financial winds. It only impacts the product pipeline rather than employees (thankfully), and we will know more in the week to come. 

One main question to consider is which pipeline it would impact. We recently saw a timeline that there will be a slew of VR headsets through to 2024 and beyond, while AR glasses will pop up from 2024 to 2028 (and beyond). The timeline may have moved, though it is difficult to say which products and services will be taken to the back-burner.

By contrast, we know what Google wants to focus on – AR glasses. While the company has not touched on the metaverse topic directly, the company takes an approach focused on ambient computing and overlays of the world. The new demo of AR glasses shows their vision, even if it will take shape many years away. Similar to Niantic, Google wants to bring the real and virtual worlds together to provide entertaining and useful information to its users. Considering Google’s core focus on organising the world’s information, it matches their heart closely.

So we have one company that will build towards the metaverse slowly, while the other does not want to conflate it with its AR ambitions. Two different visions and focuses, and we will see how it goes. It is difficult to tell who made the right call, though we will for certain in a few years. 

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A new snippet

A snippet from my book, The Metaverse: A Professional Guide. The section covers my key takeaways when it comes to NFTs. If you agree (or disagree), then feel free to reply to this email and let’s have a chat. 

Here are my suggestions for how NFTs need to adjust to be a better fit for the metaverse:

  • Lower gas fees to set amounts. No asset can have stability when the costs of transactions, though necessary, can fluctuate to severe degrees. For the majority of shoppers who want to buy virtual items, the fees must be measured in pennies.
  • Lower value volatility. The process may naturally happen over time, as the market’s bubble pops and the objects have a tangible use case in a virtual world. A virtual table does not need to vary in value so much, for example. But if it continues to fluctuate so severely, then fewer people will buy an NFT.
  • Combat fraud. No project can ever have public trust alongside high levels of fraud. The process may become self-corrective as objects in the metaverse are viewable, and assets can be purchased when necessary. But the point is that the levels of fraud need to turn sharply downwards to instil more trust.

The above implies that I am cynical about the future of NFTs. Not so. The underpinning value of the technology is sound, as it will be important to keep track of object ownership within the metaverse. If the metaverse avoids having a singular governing body, then it may benefit from a decentralised version of tracking the purchase of items. If it works well and consumers can shop seamlessly, then they can buy what they need where necessary.

The community is thriving, with many people that say ‘gm’ (good morning) and bounce ideas off each other, collaborating and making friends. Like any group of people, there are bad actors that profit from the misdirection of others – but otherwise, the impression I have is that current users are ready to defend NFTs and their potential. 

But as of yet the details need to be ironed out, at least for the metaverse. Complexities on ownership and the facilitation of trade are necessary to address before NFTs can be trusted enough for wider use. But once resolved, I look forward to a future where I may lean back in my NFT armchair while browsing the paper, reading about how the Bored Ape Yacht Club continues to have parties on top of virtual skyscrapers.

Key takeaways: 

  • NFTs are only tangentially related to the metaverse. 
  • The NFT scene is so full of fraud that it is difficult to trust its activities, which leads to general instability. 
  • While the basic technology could translate to the metaverse, it needs further evolution before it can be treated seriously.

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Meditative with the VIVE Flow. Photo credit: Tom Ffiske

Tom Ffiske

Editor, Immersive Wire

Tom Ffiske is the Editor of the Immersive Wire, a weekly newsletter on the immersive industry.