In a riveting discussion at The Future of Gaming conference this month, the metaverse—a term that has stirred up the world of gaming and tech—found itself at the center of a heated debate.
On one side of the spectrum, Shay Thompson, a renowned gaming journalist, dismissed the metaverse as a fleeting trend, critiquing its categorization as condescending and highlighting the VR technology’s shortcomings that cause motion sickness.
On the other hand, a panel of gaming experts shed light on the undeniable success and revenue generated by platforms such as Fortnite and Roblox, which are often associated with the metaverse. These contrasting viewpoints underscore the divide within the industry as professionals grapple with defining the metaverse’s role in the future of gaming and tech.
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Shay Thompson expressed a strong opinion against the metaverse, suggesting that its rise to fame was more a product of media fascination than genuine consumer demand. She pointed out that platforms like Second Life have provided metaverse-like experiences long before the term became a buzzword.
Thompson further criticized the need to place popular gaming platforms like Fortnite and Roblox under the metaverse umbrella, calling it condescending. Her experience with VR technology, which left her feeling nauseous, added another layer to her skepticism, emphasizing the need for technological improvements.
Gaming experts and revenue numbers
Contrary to Thompson’s views, a panel of gaming experts highlighted the success of platforms typically associated with the metaverse, drawing attention to the impressive revenue numbers.
Laura Ballesteros from Venatus pointed out that in-game purchases on platforms like Fortnite and Roblox have generated billions in revenue, surpassing well-established brands in the fashion industry. Cecilia Dones from Columbia Business School echoed the optimism but urged brands to familiarize themselves with the current state of gaming before diving into the emerging technologies of augmented reality.
The issue with definitions
The conference revealed a clear need for a consensus on what the metaverse represents. Phil Rowley from Omnicom Media Group emphasized the confusion caused by the varied use of the term, comparing the current state of the metaverse to other hyped technologies that eventually faded away, such as 3D cinema.
Amy Meikle from Wavemaker Play added that the negative connotations attached to the metaverse have started affecting gaming investments, suggesting that a redefinition, or even a complete abandonment of the term, might be necessary.
Persistence beyond the waning hype
Notably, this is only one time the enthusiasm for the metaverse has been deemed to wane. In July, Vishal Shah, Meta’s VP of Metaverse, had already announced that “the metaverse hype is dead.” Fast forward to the recent conference, and he acknowledged the ongoing decline in metaverse excitement, characterizing this phase as the “trough of disillusionment.”
However, rather than seeing this as a setback, Shah considered it a conducive period for his team to forge ahead, free from overblown expectations. Per experts, such sentiments emphasize Meta’s sustained, long-term vision for the metaverse, hinting at its commitment to its progression over the coming years.
Navigating the divide
The Future of Gaming conference showcased a vivid divide in opinions about the metaverse, reflecting a broader debate within the gaming and tech communities.
While Shay Thompson’s skepticism highlights the need for a more user-centric and realistic approach to VR technology, the panel of experts underscored the financial success and potential of metaverse-associated platforms.
As the industry navigates this divide, the call for clearer definitions and a reevaluation of the term “metaverse” becomes crucial, ensuring a balanced and informed view of the concept’s role in the future of gaming and technology.