Why did Facebook die “Metaverse”?

“Metaverse” is like real life, without resetting, suspending or ending, but “continuing indefinitely”.

On October 26, Beijing time, Facebook released the third quarter of 2021 financial report. The financial report showed that the company’s third-quarter profit exceeded expectations, and its stock price rose more than 1% after the market.

Earlier news said that Facebook will change its name as early as this week to focus on creating the so-called “metaverse”. For the company, the “renaming” is not just a change in the company’s name, but also reflects Facebook’s growing ambitions and focus on a new field: Meta Universe.

People familiar with the matter said that Facebook’s rebranding plan has been brewing for at least two months. Previously, Facebook has announced that as part of its efforts to create a responsible “meta universe”, it will invest 50 million US dollars in global research and project partners. Last week, Facebook announced the recruitment of 10,000 people in Europe to build a “meta universe”.

In this financial report, Facebook also stated that it expects to invest more than US$10 billion in the development of AR, VR and related hardware, as well as Metaverse applications and services this year.

But what exactly is “meta universe”? Why is Facebook so invested? More importantly, does the “meta universe” really exist?

Why is Facebook’s eyes locked on the “meta universe”?

There were reports last Tuesday that Facebook plans to change the company’s name this week to reflect its focus on building a “meta universe” effort. Just like Alphabet is now Google’s parent company, we will see a new parent company, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and other companies operating under the framework of this parent company.

Why did Facebook die "Metaverse"?

Facebook changed its name to focus on building the “metauniverse”, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Mark Zuckerberg) clearly believes that the metaverse will become a reality sooner or later. Facebook already has the Oculus VR gaming platform, and it does not want to fall behind in the “meta universe” competition.

This shows that Facebook is not satisfied with being a purely social media platform. But at the same time, considering the recent exposure of the “whistleblower” incident, Facebook also chose a more appropriate timing this time, which helps to distract the attention of regulators. Currently, Facebook has caused regulatory concerns in many countries, including its home market, the United States. This is why we need to talk about Facebook’s “meta universe” in the larger context.

Where did the concept of “meta universe” come from?

This idea originated from the science fiction novel “Snow Crash” published by Neal Stephenson in 1992, in which the term “meta universe” was used for the first time. This novel is set in a dystopian world in which the government handed over power to private companies, allowing them to handle everything in the modern world, including virtual reality (VR) and digital currency. Stephenson’s book has been enthusiastically praised by some Silicon Valley business leaders.

Why did Facebook die "Metaverse"?

Since then, the concept of “meta universe” has also been reflected in works such as Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player On” (a novel published in 2011 and made into a movie in 2018). Of course, there is also “Matrix” (Matrix).

There is no shortage of articles on the concept of meta-universe and prospects on the Internet. Venture capitalist Matthew Ball also gave a detailed introduction to “Meta Universe” in his personal blog.

What exactly is “Meta Universe”?

Simply put, the “meta universe” can be regarded as a parallel virtual world, in which users can have different identities, properties and roles.

To be a little abstract, the “meta universe” should be the “post-Internet world”; it can be a decentralized computing platform; it is completely a digital economy. In the eyes of most Silicon Valley intellectuals, the “meta universe” exists in the digital field. It also exists in the physical world.

Why did Facebook die "Metaverse"?

According to Bauer’s article, interoperability is the key to the success of the “meta universe”. Virtual reality (VR) will be one of the elements of the “meta universe”, but it is not just as simple as wearing a VR headset to play games. According to Bauer, the “meta universe” is like real life, without resetting, suspending or ending, but “continuing indefinitely.”

“Meta Universe” is not something that only one company can make, and Facebook is not the only company dedicated to “Meta Universe.” For example, “Fortnite” developer Epic Games also has a grand “meta universe” plan, which is based on its “virtual engine” (Unreal engine) to create a “meta universe”. In fact, “Fortress Night” already has many elements in line with this concept, such as live broadcast, its own currency, and so on.

Principle of operation

Bauer believes that digital space, VR games, virtual worlds, and even games like “Fortress Night” are not “meta universe”, although he admits that “Fortress Night” does have a “meta universe” element. For example, “Fortress Night” recently held a “Music Experience” event where upcoming artists can interact with their music scenes in the game. Therefore, this game allows other brands and creators to show their products to players to some extent.

Why did Facebook die "Metaverse"?

The “meta universe” is conceived as a new world order. In this order, your service can be exchanged with other virtual assets or cryptocurrencies. You can be intertwined with the digital world in a more complex way, which does sound a bit dystopian. In some popular novels, most of the examples where the virtual world and the real world are fused together fit this image.

Because everyone and things are part of the meta-universe, interoperability is essential. Bauer stated that the current rules are all for the current Internet services and functions. To ensure the smooth operation of the “meta universe”, the rules have to be rewritten.

Facebook’s “meta universe” project

“Meta universe” is crucial to Facebook’s future, and the reasons are not hard to imagine. The meta universe is a digital world, and we spend most of our time interacting with friends. Virtual assets are more important in the meta-universe world, and the rules will be completely different. As an Internet social media giant, Facebook certainly hopes so. Facebook also has its own Oculus VR gaming platform, which may be its entrance into the “meta universe”.

According to Facebook’s own definition, the “meta universe” will allow users to hang out with people who are not in the same physical space. Facebook said: “You can hang out with friends, work, study, shop, create, etc. This does not necessarily mean spending more time online, but to make your time online more meaningful.”

Why did Facebook die "Metaverse"?

Facebook admits that the “meta universe” will not be achieved overnight, and many products may not be fully realized in the next 10 to 15 years. Facebook also stated that it needs to solve the problem of how the “meta universe” will be built.

Zuckerberg said that Metaverse is expected to have a commercial impact near the end of the 1920s. The investment of Meta Universe will not generate profit at any time in the near future.

Facebook hopes to “responsibly” contribute to the construction of the “meta universe”. In September of this year, Facebook announced the establishment of a $50 million “XR Project and Research Fund.” The two-year project will work with industry civil rights organizations, governments, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions to determine how to develop these technologies responsibly.

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