My Godot what a week! I’m at the World Economic Forum this week talking about metaverses and how we can make them inclusive and accessible for all. That’s what we really, really want isn’t it? Meanwhile, the downturn of metaverse users is real. How do we expunge the demons of our web2 past to make a really solid future? We consolidate. Anyone who thinks they have the best this or the first that is wrong. We need to get together if we’re going to survive. If we stand alone, we’ll fall.
The Metaverse, often seen as the crown jewel of the blockchain world, is currently feeling a chill as the crypto winter persists. The big players, like Decentraland and The Sandbox, have seen their user counts and token values plummet. Decentraland's MANA token, which was once flying high, is now trading at a mere $0.28, down 95% from its all-time high. Similarly, The Sandbox's SAND token is down 80% from its peak.
What in the hell gives? Well, it seems that when crypto's up, Metaverse is up, and when crypto's down, Metaverse follows. But that’s not all, because this is a story about hubris. Sure we can ask the universe for stuff that may actually manifest but what if the universe isn’t listening? What if users simply don’t care for hanging out in lonely, empty malls? Then what? The best that these dudes can do is work together. That would be one helluva platform. They need a moonshot campaign that’s about more than them. The PR writes itself.
💘 Stupid Cupid ❤️
At RDC 2023, Roblox's CEO dropped a Metaverse-sized bombshell: Roblox aims to become the ultimate dating app for users aged 17 and up. Imagine meeting your special someone in a digital wonderland filled with adventures, games, and avatars. It's not just Gen Z; love knows no bounds in the Metaverse! But hold on to your heart-shaped emojis; this isn't your typical swiping left or right. Roblox envisions immersive environments where people can form real-life connections. From virtual picnics to skydiving dates, the possibilities are as limitless as the Metaverse itself. That’s the PR. Now the reality. I’m concerned. A platform that prides itself on all the 13+ peeps (but yeah, you know), and then says it wants to do dating for 17+ zalfas (that’s Gen Z and Gen Alpha to you and me)—that seems a bit, no, a lot off. My head is currently exploding at how the lovely folks at Roblox will be able to put the lid back on Pandora’s Box when all the innocence is swipeable: data, privacy, security, oh god physical safety. How? How will this work? And who is actually watching the Watchmen right now?
🎮Balls of Steal📈
Remember Unity, that once popular game development engine? I’m being mean, I do love Unity and the people in it. Well. Some people in it. Other people in Unity can go to hell. They know who they are. I’ll give it until the end of this week. You see, our friends in Unity have dropped the biggest bollock of all time. This week they introduced a "Runtime Fee" tied to the number of game installations, sparking outrage among game developers. Concerns arose that even successful games could end up paying Unity more than they actually make.
Game studios rallied against these fees, threatening to switch to rival platforms. In response, Unity had to backtrack on some policies and clarify others. But here’s the thing, business is business and as I quoted on someone’s Linkedin page this week “data shows that the majority of new companies coming to market are unprofitable when they IPO.” And by extension “since the 1980s, unprofitable IPOs have risen from around 20% to 80% of the total IPOs each year.” NASDAQ is right, especially in this case, it seems. Unity wants their profits back. They have public shareholders who need answers about why a company that grew so big isn’t doing great. Additionally, Bloomberg now reports that some Unity offices have actually had to close because of death threats from disgruntled, erm, what do I call them? All I can think of as a collective noun is douchebags. This is not the industry I joined 30 years ago and this is not the behaviour of any good developer I know, angry or not. Good people work at Unity and it’s not ok to be a cockwhisk. Get your shit together before you start hurling threats at everyone else. /rant
🚗Automatic Lovers 🌌
Anting Town in Jiading District is gearing up to host the second World Metaverse Conference. Let me stop you right there. Is this a World Metaverse Conference like the World Series of Baseball where only the USA, Korea and Japan participate? This event will not only boost the town's Metaverse ambitions but also empower its thriving auto industry. Anting is home to numerous auto plants and companies, making it a natural fit for Metaverse-auto synergy. The conference will feature forums covering a range of themes, including digital humans, automobiles, games, medical treatment, culture, and education in the Metaverse. But by the looks of it, mostly cars. Just what we need in a platform powered future, eh?
Go to any comic con or Cosplay event and there are always folks giving away free hugs. Yuk. The idea that someone wants to put their sweaty germ filled hands on me or me on them is the stuff of nightmares. Add to that as a 50 year old woman it comes off as a bit, no, a lot creepy and I do not wish to be embroiled in a female version of Nabakov’s Lolita, equality be damned! So spare a thought for Meta. They’re teaming up with 15 universities in the USA to explore the educational potential of the Metaverse. They aim to leverage VR and AR technologies to create immersive learning experiences. From teaching soft skills with VR to exploring human anatomy, these universities are pioneering the future of education. And these headsets and tech are being given away for free—like hugs—what’s the catch? We know what the catch is, the idea that a world of Universal Scene descriptions might soon trump the legless, sorry, leg filled world of Horizon is a real possibility for Meta. Again, they could do a lot worse than to consolidate, but maaaan, think of the pride that needs to be swallowed there. Pfffft! That’s gonna give anyone a hiatus hernia.
Yes, all you people who love reading this column every week, you will be ecstatic to learn that I wrote a book: “From Pixels to Portals: Exploring The Future Of The Metaverse Through The Evolution Of Video Games”—I know what you are thinking—why? Well, I want to consolidate everything I learned from the games industry and how I applied it to other things like digital twins or fashion. I also wanted to talk about the future of storytelling, brands and how we might leverage NFTs to better utility. Well guess what? You can order the book by buying an NFT and I will send you the digital copy in all formats and the hard copy (if you want it) when it goes live in November. I will be launching the book at More than Games as part of Scottish Games Week and I will be talking about my book at the event, then at Gstar in South Korea and at the Dubai Future Forum in, er, Dubai.
That’s enough metaverse for this week. I will be appearing on this week’s The Pulse, only in X Spaces where I’ll be talking about the Luxury Innovation Summit in Geneva. Looking for cool convos? Check out Metacrun.ch Meets… Our series devoted to figuring out what makes tech people tick.
Do Something Less Boring
This week’s AI top tips are about being creative quickly and sacking off all that learning nonsense.
Sack off Ernest Bloody Hemingway and write like Dan Brown.