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Business December 16, 2022

Dating in the Metaverse: Here Are the Latest Apps



Dating in the Metaverse: Here Are the Latest Apps

Cupid, the pretty little boy with wings, a bow and an arrow, will be waiting for some in the metaverse as dating companies move into the virtual space in the new year.

In the past decade, dating companies such as Tinder have relied on matching people on their sites. Going forward, there will be need to embrace an immersive approach and match them in the metaverse and have them meet there.

Dating in the metaverse

With over 1,500 dating apps and websites on the market today, the market is seen reaching $9.2 billion by 2025. “People are meeting both pre and post-dates already and we know they have been dating in the metaverse,” Together Labs CEO Darren Tsui says.

“It’s inevitable that dating companies will seek to join these experiences together. We’re seeing a lot of people in our societies using the metaverse as a way of figuring out ‘what happens after the swipe,” Tsui adds.

Tsui reckons there is a market. Generation Z (Gen Z), the Western demographic group succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha, are seen embracing this development for a number of reasons.

Gen Z, kids born from the mid-to-late 1990s and the early 2010s, are prime suspects for metaverse dating.

Informal relationships: situationships

Situationships are seen supporting this kind of dating. A situationship is a romantic or sexual relationship that is not considered to be formal or established.

This growing dynamic is the result of Gen Z’s attitude towards romance as well as their changing lifestyle. Gen Z is more socially aware and has many aspirations. Romance is one of many aspects of life that Gen Z cares about and may not rank as high as previous generations.

“Compounding that with their busy lives and their comfort with socializing digitally, situationships are a pragmatic approach to Gen Z’s circumstances,” Tsui adds.

He is not the only who sees metaverse dating taking off.

“We are already seeing a trend of people meeting and interacting in online games and virtual worlds. Second Life has been around for nearly two decades and is still going strong, with over a million active users,” KJ Dhaliwal writes.

“With online games and communities dedicated to dating, we could begin to see people find love in the metaverse,” he continues.

Dating in the Metaverse: Here Are the Latest Apps

Match Group, the Parent company of Tinder, has in the past considered the metaverse dating space. But of late, the company has been scaling owing to concerns emanating from a lack of a clear and immediate monetization strategy for its VR dating.

Dating in VR?

The company postponed plans to introduce VR dating on an app linked to Tinder in the third quarter of this year until its earnings improve. Although Match Group has put the brakes on the metaverse, others have forged ahead.

Early this year, a VR Dating app called Nevermet was launched with some describing it as “the metaverse version of Tinder.” Then in May, Flirtual, rose to prominence after launching an app that allows users to “flirt in the metaverse and hook up in the real world.”

Dating in the Metaverse: Here Are the Latest Apps

Avatar dating in the metaverse

All this is suggestive of a void in the dating space, the experts say.

“However, even with the lack of a monetization strategy, I believe we are going to see many companies investing in this technology in an attempt to be the premiere platform for dating in the metaverse. Dating trends over the last 10 years have changed considerably, with more people using dating apps and websites to meet potential partners,” KJ Dhaliwal adds.

Meanwhile, demand for better apps is rising. A total 47% of respondents in a survey by Tido expressed willingness to join an advanced, AI-based dating app to find a potential long-term partner.

This may work for Gen Z, tsui adds.

Dating in the Metaverse: Here Are the Latest Apps

According to Pew research, Gen Z doesn’t distinguish between friends made in the physical world vs. online. They are perfectly comfortable meeting someone in a chat room and “going out on a date” by playing Animal Crossing together, Tsui tells MetaNews.

“We see this exact behavior on IMVU. The metaverse has changed the way people interact digitally and this is something we’ve been tracking for the last 18 years based on our deep understanding of the science of friendship.”

Already some people have gone a step beyond dating in the metaverse, they are marrying in the virtual world.

“Hi, I’m Dinesh Kshatriyan and I’m most famous for ‘Asia’s first metaverse wedding'”, I’m the groom.

I’m from Chennai, Tamilnadu, India,” reads the tweet with a picture of a smiling couple and a link to a story.

Money in the metaverse

Moving from dating, Tsui sees NFTs becoming adopted for everyday transactions in the coming year. He sees transactions booming in the 2023 in the metaverse.

“As with gaming 10 years ago, microtransactions are set to explode in the metaverse and NFTs are the mechanism through which this will happen. We see games morphing into metaverses and there’ll be many going forward.”

He said although users “own” digital goods for a game, they don’t own them in practice.

“They can’t take what they own off platform and they would lose everything if the game becomes defunct. NFTs make true ownership possible so users can freely buy, sell, and trade,” Tsui added.

Dating in the Metaverse: Here Are the Latest Apps

Hasn’t crossed the mobile chasm. Yet.

Darren Tsui adds he thinks the mobile phone had a huge role to play in metaverse adoption and see phones driving metaverse growth in the new year. We have not seen the metaverse cross the chasm in reaching the masses with a broad age range yet.

“We believe the biggest needle-mover is creating metasocieties and making metaverses a welcoming place versus world-building only for the sake of creating content or technical gadgets that are expensive and cumbersome to use,” he added.

Mobile has proven to be an efficient medium to socialize and you don’t have to wait for adoption. Mobile devices are powerful enough today to deliver immersive 3D experiences giving users the sense of ‘presence’, the feeling of being at another place with other people.

Although Roblox has a large user base, its appeal is limited to a young demographic (age 9 – 12 as core.) The path to crossing that chasm is through mobile, where there are billions of users spanning all ages.


Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.


Twitter Now Worth Only a Third of Musk’s $44B Purchase Price



Twitter Worth Only a Third of Musk’s $44B Purchase Price

It’s been almost seven months since Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion but the tech entrepreneur has failed to invigorate the company’s fortunes. Financial services corporation Fidelity now estimate the value of the app to stand at just 33% of Musk’s purchase price.

Musk completed his famous takeover of the microblogging site in October, fulfilling his long-term desire to be the boss of Twitter.

The tech billionaire was criticized for overspending on Twitter during the acquisition. Musk paid $44 billion for Twitter, with $33.5 billion in equity. However, Musk has also acknowledged he overpaid and said it was only worth half of what he paid.

“Myself and the other investors are obviously overpaying for Twitter right now. The long term potential for Twitter in my view is an order of magnitude greater than its current value,” said Musk.

Twitter was valued at $20 billion in March by Musk himself in an email that was sent to the company’s employees.

Twitter struggles under Musk

Following Musk’s takeover, many corporations and companies cut ties with the platform. Musk’s erratic decision-making and management style is blamed on driving a host of advertisers away.

Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen, General Mills, Mondelez, Pfizer, and United Airlines are among the major corporations that paused or pulled their advertisements from Twitter due to concerns regarding hate speech and conspiracy theories.

International ad and consulting firm Interpublic, which represents American Express, Coca-Cola, Fitbit, Spotify, and dozens of other major corporations, has also stopped advertising on the platform. That cut caused Twitter to lose $24 billion. Given the recent advertiser exodus it is unsurprising that Fidelity downgraded Twitter’s value – but it remains unclear exactly how they arrived at a final valuation.

In November, Fidelity initially decreased the value of its Twitter stake to 44% of the purchase price. This was followed by subsequent markdowns in December and February.

“In 2021, Twitter generated more than 4.5 billion U.S. dollars in advertising service revenues, up from 3.2 billion U.S. dollars in the previous year,” according to Statista.

Also Read: Six Months of Twitter Under the Rule of Elon Musk

Additionally, the micro-blogging platform produced around $571 million in data licensing revenue, up from $508 million 2020.

Insider Intelligence projected “that Twitter’s 2023 ad revenues would reach $4.74 billion worldwide.” However, since Musk took charge, the market research company has cut its projection by “nearly $2 billion, to just $2.98 billion, as the app grapples with brand safety issues, confusing policies, and broken technology.”

Twitter Blue: a flop card

Twitter Blue, a subscription-based verification checkmark with various features, remains one of the most popular changes in Musk’s brief tenure.

In November, the Tesla chief introduced a feature called “Blue for $8/month,” which brought a drastic change to Twitter’s policy by providing a verification checkmark known as a Blue tick.

This feature also offers additional benefits such as the ability to edit tweets, half-ads, longer tweets, text formatting, bookmark folders, NFT profile pictures, etc.

Interestingly, though, the change has been copied by Facebook and Instagram owner Meta, whose subscription service Meta Verified lets users add a blue checkmark to their accounts.

Musk faced accusations of charging its users to cover his $44 billion, which he invested to become the boss. Despite the criticism for removing legacy checkmarks from popular accounts, Twitter Blue generated $11 million on mobile in its first three months as a new product.

The amount it has generated is slightly lower than expected, as Twitter has 368 million monthly active users worldwide.

However, Twitter is adding more features to the paid verification badge as Musk tries to develop it as a flagship product under the Twitter umbrella.

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Baidu Is Rolling Out a $145M Venture Capital AI Fund



Baidu is Rolling Out a $145M Venture Capital AI Fund

Chinese tech giant Baidu is setting up a venture capital fund of $145 million or 1 billion yuan to back AI-focused startups. Baidu co-founder and CEO Robin Li announced the launch of the fund at a JP Morgan summit in China this week.

The move could signal China’s push towards self-reliance in the cut-throat generative AI sector. The fund will support the development and innovation of AI-based content creation, such as chatbots, video and audio synthesis, and natural language processing.

The fund is targeting early-stage AI applications, an area which Chinese generative AI startups have so far struggled to reach widespread adoption.

Also read: AI Code of Conduct Coming ‘Within Weeks’ Says US and Europe

Tailing the US’s OpenAI

OpenAI recently created an investment fund valued at more than $175 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. the company has been investing in startups, with its OpenAI Startup Fund to back companies “pushing the boundaries of how powerful AI can positively impact the world.”

Baidu is also planning to launch competition for developers to build applications using its Ernie large language model (LLM) or integrate the model into their existing products, in a similar fashion other tech firms are using OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology.

Ernie bot is Baidu’s own AI-powered LLM that can generate natural and coherent texts based on user inputs.

“American developers are building new applications based on ChatGPT or other language models. In China, there will be an increasing number of developers building AI applications using Ernie as their foundation,” said Li.

Baidu unveiled the chatbot in March this year and claimed that it outperformed other LLMs in several benchmarks.

Battle for AI supremacy

The success of ChatGPT has put Chinese tech companies under pressure to fast-track the release of their own LLMs and bring them to market.

According to Reuters there are over 75 Chinese companies that have already released their own LLMs since 2020. Baidu and e-commerce giant Alibaba are among these companies.

A report by a state-run research firm says over 79 LLMs have been launched in the past 3 years.

And the Baidu boss predicts that in the generative AI age, Chinese companies will catch up, and even lead the way in discovering commercial applications for AI.

“I am very bullish on China AI development. Over the past few decades, China has warmly embraced new technologies,” said Li.

“Even though we didn’t invent Android, iOS or Windows, we developed a host of very innovative applications like WeChat, Douyin and Didi. Many of them are popular and useful. The same trend is playing out in the AI age. Technology ushers in a myriad of possibilities and we are good at capturing them to build applications,” explained Li.

LLMs, a vital tech

Since they can produce realistic and varied material across a range of subjects and forms, LLMs are seen as a vital technology for expanding AI applications and services. They do, however, also present ethical and legal difficulties, such as possible abuse, plagiarism, and bias. China released draft regulations on the use of generative AI in April in response to the spike in LLMs, requiring developers to acquire approval and explicitly label such products.

The growth and adoption of AI-based content production in China and elsewhere are anticipated to be accelerated by Baidu’s venture capital fund and competition.

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Metaverse Gaming Market Expected to Reach $119.2 Billion by 2028



Metaverse Gaming Market Expected to Reach $119.2 Billion by 2028

The metaverse gaming market is estimated to encompass $22.7 billion in 2023 and projected to reach $119.2 billion by 2028, according to a recent report from ReportLinker.

The metaverse has been a hot cake in the tech industry in recent years and was boosted by Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to change Facebook’s name to Meta. However, the market has been limping towards AI, which stole the spotlight from virtual reality.

“The global metaverse in gaming market size is estimated at USD 22.7 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach USD 119.2 billion by 2028 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 39.3%,” stated the report.

The growth of the metaverse in the gaming market is expected to be fuelled by several significant factors, including the dynamic and evolving landscape of adjacent technology markets “such as extended reality (XR),” which encompasses “virtual reality (VR),” augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR).

Expectation of rapid growth

In 2021, the gaming industry experienced rapid growth, with billions of people playing video games globally and generating over $193 billion in revenue.

Gaming companies quickly became early adopters in exploring the potential of the metaverse. Looking ahead to 2023, it was projected that the metaverse will continue to reshape the gaming landscape.

A survey from last year shows that about 52% of U.S. gamers believe the metaverse will change the game industry.

“According to the survey, just over half (52%) of gamers believe the metaverse will change the video game industry and a plurality (41%) think that the metaverse will have a positive impact on the industry (vs. 25% who disagree),” reads the survey report of Globant and polling firm YouGov.

Moreover, 40% say the buzz around “metaverse gaming is warranted,” though nearly “one-third (30%) were undecided” on that subject.

Who are the big players?

The metaverse is not just a single platform, virtual experience, or game; it is an entire world recreated to provide an immersive experience. Gaming is one of the many experiences in the metaverse that is powered by AI, VR, and AR.

Whenever it comes to gaming, some of the giant games like Fornite, Unreal, and Roblox come to mind.

Read Also: Meta Seeks to Boost Its Metaverse Gaming Credentials

And those are expected to be significant players in the metaverse due to their existing influence and capabilities in the gaming industry, as a report from 2022 states.

“As gaming platforms like Fortnight gain functionality and evolve into technologically advanced social meeting places, it becomes more likely that a functioning Metaverse, with an independent economy, systems, and processes is in our future,” reads the report.

Fortnite has transformed into a social meeting place, offering interactive events and branded experiences.

Unreal’s powerful engine enables immersive media experiences, while Roblox’s user-generated content and virtual currency have attracted millions of users. These factors position them to thrive in the evolving metaverse landscape.

Europe expecting significant growth

Europe is expected to witness significant growth in the gaming metaverse market, with the second-highest CAGR during the calculation period.

The UK, Germany, and France lead the way in technology investment, while Russia and Spain are also adopting new display technologies.

“The substantial growth of the virtual world immersive interactive gaming industry in Europe is a crucial driver for the gaming metaverse market in this region,” stated the report.

The immersive interactive gaming industry in Europe, along with the demand for AR, VR, and MR technologies in the entertainment sector, serves as a driving force, indicated ReportLinker.

Initiatives such as the European Association for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (EuroVR) and projects like Augmented Heritage and International Augmented Med (I AM) contribute to market growth.

With increasing startups in extended reality, particularly in Sweden, Europe is poised for increased growth in the gaming metaverse markets.

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