Metaverse players are “sexually assaulted”, Zuckerberg is too anxious

The users came, and so did the problems, and Zuckerberg’s Metaverse story began to sour.

May 20, 2022, is the tenth anniversary of Facebook’s listing. A decade ago, Zuckerberg had the biggest IPO ever for a U.S. tech company.

Ten years later, Facebook changed its name to Meta, betting on the Metaverse.

Metaverse players are "sexually assaulted", Zuckerberg is too anxious

Image source Meta official website

In October last year, Meta said it would invest about $10 billion over the next year to develop various technologies to build a “Metaverse” where consumers can access a virtual world of work and play through headsets.

Just like betting on mobile devices back then, Zuckerberg’s chosen Metaverse at this time still has no clear business model and profit path. This can not help but cause the outside world to worry about the future development of Meta.

Brian Yacktman, chief investment officer (CIO) of investment firm YCG Investments, said: “My concern with the ‘Metaverse’ is that this investment is more like drilling an oil well, and you may be empty-handed, or you may be It will make a fortune. My question is how big it will be and who will be the winner.”

Whether Zuckerberg’s bet will succeed is still unknown. But the reality is that the unknown has not stopped Zuckerberg from running into the Metaverse.

When the outside world was still in the rudimentary cognition of the Metaverse, Meta had already taken the lead.Launched Metaverse games, invested in related companies, developed VR equipment, and Meta’s first offline store has also come out.

“I hope that in the future we will stop being just a social platform and be seen as a Metaverse company,” Zuckerberg said at Facebook Connect last year.

As Meta ran into the Metaverse, the sequelae also quickly became apparent, and some problems followed. Problems such as players being sexually assaulted and equipment patent infringement occur frequently.

Looking back at the slow performance of social giant Facebook in recent years, especially after being sniped by Tik Tok, Zuckerberg had to make a quick bet on the Metaverse. If you seize the Metaverse and grab the first piece of cake, it will be a bailout for the company’s other businesses and an opportunity to seize the next era.

It’s just that Zuckerberg is a little too anxious now when the Metaverse business model is not yet clear.

1. How to tell the story of the Metaverse when the player is “sexually assaulted”?

When “sexual assault” spreads from the real world to the virtual world, the Metaverse seems to change.

Recently, according to foreign media reports, a 21-year-old woman was “sexually harassed” by a male virtual character while experiencing the Metaverse game “Horizon World” produced by Meta.

The report quoted SumOfUs as saying that a male avatar “almost raped” her avatar, while another avatar male avatar “watched”.

Obviously, this is a terrible Metaverse experience. In this game, the contact of the avatar can cause the controller in the player’s hand to vibrate, and in the event of a similar violation, even in the virtual world, the victim will feel uncomfortable.

This experience is undoubtedly contrary to the original intention of “Horizon World”. According to the official introduction, this is a fun and warm virtual reality world, where up to 20 characters can create their own communities, explore, and have fun.

Metaverse players are "sexually assaulted", Zuckerberg is too anxious

The game “Horizon World”, source Meta official website

In response, an official Meta spokesperson said that the victim unfortunately did not turn on many of the security features of Horizon World. Among them, the “personal boundary” function will form a “protective shield” with a radius of about one meter around the player, making other Virtual characters cannot be touched to prevent harassment. And mentioned, “We don’t recommend turning off safety features for people you don’t know.”

It can be seen from Meta’s response that the player was violated this time because the “personal boundary” security function was not turned on, which seems to have nothing to do with the platform itself.

But in fact, this kind of incident is not the first time.

A female player had the same experience during the Horizon World beta last December. At that time, the tester claimed that a stranger tried to “touch” her avatar in the square. “This (uncomfortable) feeling is stronger than being harassed on the Internet,” she wrote.

One thing in common is that the above-mentioned victims all said that the feeling and impact of sexual assault incidents in the virtual world are no different from those in the real world, and the discomfort is even stronger. That said, this seemingly non-physical assault actually caused emotional harm to the victim.

“Sexual harassment isn’t a joke on the normal internet either. But being in virtual reality adds another layer of feeling that makes it more intense. Not only have I been harassed, but there are other people who support this behavior, which Made me feel isolated in the square.” One victim described her feelings of being violated in the Metaverse.

Earlier, in 2018, a survey of 600 VR gamers who used VR at least twice a month showed that 49% of women and 36% of men reported experiencing “sexual harassment” in virtual worlds.

Among them, what has caused widespread discussion in the outside world is that if the victim’s body is not touched, can it be considered a sexual assault?

In this regard, Jesse Fox, an associate professor at Ohio State University who studies the social impact of virtual reality, pointed out: “People should remember that sexual harassment is never just a physical thing. It can be verbal or virtual.”

Katherine, a researcher at the University of Washington who specializes in online harassment, also said that sexual assault in the virtual world and the real world are not much different, and people will have the same psychological and neurological reactions.

More importantly, the Metaverse itself focuses on the user’s sense of immersion and experience, and the behavior that occurs in this environment is also authentic. In a specific Metaverse, if such events occur frequently, it is bound to cause physical and psychological damage to players.

Metaverse players are "sexually assaulted", Zuckerberg is too anxious

Image source Meta official website

Judging from Meta’s response, the platform has now opened up security features that can help players protect themselves in the game. However, it did not provide relevant supervision or even punishment policies, which undoubtedly buried hidden dangers.

Specifically, when the player performs the above behavior, he will not be subject to any punishment and warning, which may contribute to the occurrence of such incidents. As long as someone thinks that virtual worlds can be free from legal constraints, they can do whatever they want, and this will happen all the time.

At present, the Metaverse platform still needs to explore the rules that balance the user’s experience and authenticity with the supervision and punishment of certain misconduct in the long run.

Now Meta’s Metaverse games, obviously because they are too eager to attract users, have not done this balance. But Zuckerberg didn’t want or want to wait too long, eager to tell a new story.

2. Zuckerberg rushes into the Metaverse

Last October, on the second day of Facebook Connect, Facebook’s old thumbs-up logo was removed and replaced with a new logo and a new name, “Meta.”

At that time, Zuckerberg said that the word “Meta” comes from the Greek word, which means transcendence. But under the tuyere of the Metaverse, the meaning of Meta seems to be closer to the English “Metaverse” of the Metaverse.

Zuckerberg is eager to seize the opportunity of the Metaverse, which makes him the most active technology company founder to catch up with the Metaverse.

Renaming the 18-year-old company Facebook to Meta is just the first step in Zuckerberg’s bet on the Metaverse. After that, Meta’s actions about the Metaverse became more and more frequent.

First of all, as one of the ways to enter the Metaverse, games are the most easily associated with VR, which naturally becomes the focus of Meta’s efforts.

At the Meta Quest Gaming Showcase 2022, Zuckerberg showed more than a dozen games, including shooting games, action-adventure games, etc., among which there are many VR games adapted from the film and television works “Ghostbusters” and “The Walking Dead”.

But if users want to experience the Metaverse, the first problem that needs to be solved is to obtain a way to enter the Metaverse. At this time, the hardware device has become the basis of everything.

Zuckerberg, who realized the importance of hardware very early, spent $3 billion to acquire Oculus, a VR headset maker, when the first wave of VR hype emerged in 2014. When Zuckerberg explained the reason for the acquisition, he mentioned: Missing the design of smartphones and their operating systems, many companies can only become vassals of Google and Apple. In the future, only by having our own hardware platform and system can we control our destiny.

Now, after betting heavily on the Metaverse, Zuckerberg hurriedly announced that he would launch more VR/AR devices, as if he wanted to make Meta the “pronoun” of the Metaverse.

Zuckerberg mentioned in the first quarter earnings call of this year, “Later this year, we will release a higher-end headset, code-named Project Cambria, which will be more focused on the work scene and eventually replace your laptop. computer or work settings.”

For Project Nazare, it will be a long time before it reaches the launch standard. At present, these two devices are still in the research and development stage, and it is unknown when they will meet the market and release them.

Zuckerberg can’t wait that long. He is anxious to deploy the Metaverse and wants to quickly push the existing VR/AR hardware devices to more users.

So at the beginning of this month, Meta’s first Metaverse store in the world officially opened. In the offline store, the two core products of Meta’s hardware department, the VR headset Quest 2 and the video telephony device Portal, were placed in the most prominent positions, as well as the smart glasses Stories co-developed by Meta and Ray-Ban.

Metaverse players are "sexually assaulted", Zuckerberg is too anxious

Meta store, source Meta official website

It is undeniable that the high frequency of launching Metaverse-related products and opening offline stores has cost Meta a lot of money. Meta reports a $10.19 billion investment/impairment loss in Reality Labs in 2021.

As Meta stated on its fiscal Q4 2021 earnings call, “Building the Metaverse is an expensive gamble.”

At the same time, adding software functions such as VR to the original platform is also part of Zuckerberg’s Metaverse.

At last year’s Facebook Connect conference, the company’s Horizon platform added a new VR feature – Horizon Home, users can design their own home in the Metaverse; Facebook also updated the Messenger function on Quest, users can interact with the real world in the virtual world. friends in conversation.

It can be said that Zuckerberg is rushing to lay out for this decade’s Metaverse bet. But being too impatient is also more prone to mistakes, especially if Meta wants to be the first “crab eater”, the chance of mistakes will undoubtedly be greater.

Immersion, a haptic technology developer, has filed a lawsuit against Facebook parent Meta, accusing the latter of infringing its patents on creating an industry-leading virtual reality (VR) headset.

In a complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Waco, Texas, Immersion alleges that the market-leading Meta Quest 2 infringes six patents covering haptic technology. In video game systems and controllers, haptics allow users to experience vibrations that simulate real-life forces, such as blocking a punch in a virtual boxing game.

Metaverse players are "sexually assaulted", Zuckerberg is too anxious

Meta Quest 2, source Meta official website

Patent infringement is only the tip of the iceberg on Zuckerberg’s radical path. The above-mentioned problems such as player infringement and privacy leakage in the game also occur from time to time.

It is no exaggeration to say that in order to tell a new story of the Metaverse, change the name of the company, and insist on keeping software and hardware together even if the cost is huge, Zuckerberg almost did everything he could.

3. Why is Zuckerberg so anxious?

In 2010, David Fincher’s film “The Social Network” was based on Zuckerberg, and to some extent directly showed the glory of Facebook at the time.

It only took six years to gather more than 400 million users and become the youngest billionaire. The genius Zuckerberg and the social giant Facebook once became the miracle of the Internet.

However, in the ever-changing Internet, there are not many companies that stand on the top of the mountain for a long time, especially in the case of a downturn in the general environment. Meta is now facing the test of the market.

Shortly after the name change, Meta, which carries Zuckerberg’s Metaverse ambitions, handed in a less-than-expected financial report.

The fourth quarter of 2021 is the first financial report for Meta to launch the Metaverse concept. According to the financial report, Meta’s revenue in the fourth quarter of last year was 33.7 billion US dollars, net income was 10.3 billion US dollars, and earnings per share were 3.67 US dollars; monthly active users were 2.9 billion, which was lower than expected.

More importantly, Reality Labs, the development arm of Meta’s “Metaverse”, will lose $10.2 billion in 2021, but its revenue will be less than $2.3 billion, a difference of nearly five times.

Reflected in the capital market, after the Meta financial report was released, the market value evaporated by more than 230 billion US dollars, which became the largest single-day decline in the history of US stocks. In other words, Zuckerberg’s Metaverse story did not gain confidence in the capital market.

Behind the poor performance and the loss of users is the opponent that Meta has to mention – Tik Tok. After its launch in 2017, Tik Tok has accumulated 1 billion users worldwide in just 4 years, and has surpassed Facebook in global downloads for 2 consecutive years, ranking first in the world.

The most intuitive impact is that the number of users and revenue growth of Meta are both declining.

In the fourth quarter of last year, Meta’s DAU was 1.93 billion people, the first quarter-on-quarter decline. MAU growth in high regions such as North America and Europe has stalled or even declined.

Metaverse players are "sexually assaulted", Zuckerberg is too anxious

In the first quarter of this year, Meta’s total revenue was $27.908 billion, which was lower than Wall Street analysts’ forecast, and the revenue growth rate was 7%, the lowest growth rate in a decade.

In this regard, Facebook explained that the revenue from digital advertising was lower than expected, and it also reflected the impact of rising inflation during the epidemic, supply chain crisis, economic turmoil, and geopolitical situations on the online advertising industry.

Under the strong impact of Tik Tok, Meta decided to open the short video function Reels to all Facebook users around the world to compete with Tik Tok.

But it’s not easy for Reels, which has just launched, to see results. Zuckerberg not only has to compete with Tik Tok for creators, but also faces the problem of platform commercialization. Zuckerberg said that Reels’ commercials are not a one-off event, requiring customers to spend time making content adjustments and optimizing their creative capabilities.

The only good news is that in the first quarter of 2022, Meta’s DAU was 1.96 billion people, an increase of 4% year-on-year. Although growth has resumed this quarter, the user growth in individual quarters is difficult to change the overall downward trend in Meta user growth.

It can be seen that Meta’s Reels cannot be compared with Tik Tok in terms of number of users or commercialization.

Meta’s weak performance has put founder Zuckerberg at a crossroads. When the traditional business loses momentum, occupying a place in the new outlet Metaverse may be able to bail out the entire company.

Metaverse players are "sexually assaulted", Zuckerberg is too anxious

Image source Meta official website

At the company’s recent annual shareholder meeting, Zuckerberg said that the immersive digital world of the Metaverse will eventually make money from the creator economy as people build businesses to sell virtual goods and services. “We want to make hardware as affordable as possible for everyone and ensure the growth of the digital economy,” Zuckerberg said.

Take the Metaverse project “Horizon World” as an example, which already has a profit plan. By launching a virtual commodity trading tool, some creators can sell virtual props in their respective worlds, and Meta will take a cut of the digital assets sold, with a cut ratio of up to 47.5%.

However, this model has been resisted by many outside voices, and it is still unknown whether Zuckerberg can successfully explore the commercialization path of the Metaverse.

The founding emperor of the ancient Roman Empire, Augustus, is Zuckerberg’s most fascinating character. He defeated political opponents, unified the Roman Empire, and exchanged harsh rule for two hundred years of world peace.

In the past ten years, Zuckerberg has pioneered the social field and made Facebook the largest social company in the world. In the next ten years, making Meta surpass Facebook and create a new peak is the focus of Zuckerberg. This process It means that he will continue to defeat countless competitors and enter the Metaverse world as soon as possible to “occupy land as king”, which is why Zuckerberg is so radical.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
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