Everyone is losing their collective minds over the metaverse and reports of its death (which are greatly exaggerated), is it true, or is everyone suffering from a bit of metaverse fatigue? To get to the truth, I’m going to take you on a journey – so if you don’t want to learn anything today, come back another day. But if you’re a thirsty knowledge seeker, read on…
Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce)
This goddess Venus arrived at the shore after her birth, the shore of which we don't maybe really know. But what we can definitely say about The Birth of Venus by Botticelli is that it represents the context of wedding celebrations. That's generally agreed by art historians worldwide. As one of those dicks who believes that the metaverse is all around us, why shouldn’t that also mean Renaissance art? The reason why I think this painting is so poignant to our current machinations within the metaverse is the wedding; the wedding of stuff and of things. The connection between the seasons, The Birth of Venus, and Botticelli himself. All of these things are married together in a beautiful piece of canvas.
Why is that important to the metaverse? It's really simple. This is painted at a time when we're going through a complete load of change in Europe and Italy. Commissioned by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici for his cousin Lorenzo de’ Medici, the one they call “il Magnifico”. Lorenzo, the Magnificent one, “was groomed for power, and assumed a leading role in the state upon the death of his father in 1469, when he was 20. Already drained by his grandfather's building projects and constantly stressed by mismanagement, wars, and political expenses, the assets of the Medici Bank reduced seriously during the course of Lorenzo's lifetime.”
During this time, many countries were aligning themselves with each other, and many countries were at war with one another. 1474–1477 Burgundian Wars, 1475–1479 War of the Castilian Succession, and 1477–1488 Austrian–Hungarian War. Where kingdoms align, provinces and principalities also fall.
The Big Bang Moment
Interestingly, this is exactly what's happening inside the metaverse right now. This idea of divine love (or as we call it worship) that is envisioned by these Neoplatonic interpretations (or as we call them, religious philosophies) is now being played out through technology. So the metaverse itself has, in the last 24 hours, found itself lost at sea.
Everyone’s favourite metaverse, Roblox, “is still not profitable.” Why? There are plenty of users, that’s not up for debate in this article, so why isn’t it profitable? Is it dying? Is it at war? Any product with competition is always at war, whether they want to admit to it or not.
The truth is way more boring than the amount of guys, yes, it was only guys from the VC world chiming in with their opinions. The truth is that it’s probably going through a Big Bang moment.
I predicted this months ago, but, as these warring factions of metaverses and money - and these allies of crypto bros and VCs hunker down for their weird winter of scandalous doom-laden messianic tax losses - UGC is crawling, slowly, like one of Zuckerberg’s legless avatars, out of the primordial soup of Decentraland, The Sandbox, and Roblox, to make something bigger and better than we could have ever imagined. And it is through UGC that Roblox might be having a dip in revenue. If you imagine Roblox being Italy in the 1400s – where it isn’t even a country yet – then you can imagine that some of the UGC gaming platforms inside Roblox are probably the Kingdom of Sicily, Piedmont, or Florence. All governed by their own leaders, all controlling their own people and finances. It’s feudal, it’s final. The banks of the kingdoms and city-states are full, ready to fund a war, ready to feed the monarchs like overfed geese. All these little moving parts, all inside something that's bigger – but that doesn't mean that something that's super big is not going to swallow up other things around it: that's just how the universe works.
The Italy that we know today came to be on 17 March 1861. 384 years after The Birth of Venus. The great general Garibaldi led the inking of the history books following the Congress of Vienna in 1815, “the political and social Italian unification movement, or Risorgimento, emerged to unite Italy, consolidating the different states of the peninsula and liberating it from foreign control.” That’s real life. How do we work to bring the metaverse into a unified place? I have a few ideas.
Some metaverses will die. That’s a fact. Some metaverses will die because they can’t sustain a living. Platforms that provide nothing, (or provide an obvious entourage of idling NPCs – keep pretending they are users, guys). Platforms that are devoid of story, activity, or raison d'être won’t survive, and I won’t shed a tear. My criteria for a good metaverse is retained by the basic stuff of life that every video game has had to live through:
Solid User Experience - is it aimed at me?
What is this experience bringing to the brand/client that they haven't in other tools and collaborative experiences? Highlight these things.
Do they keep the community alive outside of the in-metaverse experience?
Where are the users? Are they measurable? Are these numbers easily communicated?
So which Metaverse is doing really well? Which Metaverse is on life-support? At Metacrun.ch, we’ve started a weekly top ten to try and find clues and seek leads on how the metaverse will evolve. That’s not all, I believe that the metaverse has to change, or it will die, but it isn’t ready for the use case that UGC brings, not at all. Why aren’t you ready, guys? It has no plan for interoperability. And it’s greedy. The VCs want a return for their $50-odd million, in order to mint that cash fast, it’s going to have to attract big names that it can’t deliver upon but that it will promise to the VCs anyway. The ouroboros will continue until the snake has eaten itself whole, and the metaverse will collapse in on itself.
In this week’s newsletter, I wrote about the financial opportunities of the metaverse through the eyes of Mckinsey – depending on who you ask, it varies between $1 trillion and $5 trillion – so there’s plenty of money to go around if it’s greed you’re feeding. But you will fail if you don’t or refuse to understand two key things: UGC is the most profitable business case for any metaverse, so why keep trying to build one when there are so many that have literally nothing going on but prettiness? Or, you could use my argument that a platform without a game development roadmap does not make a metaverse make. Merge with any current metaverse and you can bet that the metaverse CEO, who will most definitely be a guy, will be glad of the business – god knows they have no users and zero content.
With a little care for the users, and some tools to develop action, the metaverse can stay with us, just like Botticelli’s masterpiece of devotion, through the power of people, and the rise and fall of kingdoms until the end of this world.