Raptor Bytes: Is the Metaverse Really Dead?

The latest news and insights from the cutting edge of games tech

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Author: Craig Chapple, Head of Content, Raptor PR

Tuesday 23rd May, 2023

 

The metaverse is dead.

At least that’s according to a recent article on Business Insider. And the case it lays out is hard to disagree with. The sheer hype around what remains a still remarkably undefined term has dissipated after a wave of start-ups have come and gone. Let’s be honest, there have been myriad efforts at sub-par online worlds calling themselves a metaverse that can’t hold a candle to the top virtual worlds of years gone by. Others have used the term just to raise investment.

‘Metaverse’ has largely been quite a fluffy word and its various descriptions are often full of marketing speak that doesn’t really amount to much more than virtual worlds. Business Insider notes a number of big closures and exits, from Microsoft closing AltSpaceVR and laying off 100 staff in its ‘industrial metaverse team’, as well as staff cuts for HoloLens. Even Disney disbanded its own metaverse team.

The final nail in the coffin, the article states, is Meta’s apparent abandonment of the hot trend it set into motion with its high profile rebrand from Facebook, along with billions of dollars of investment. It’s now off to chase AI.

Big tech doesn’t have the patience

But it’s not anything new for a big tech company to move on to something new, which executives believe has greater short-term potential for profit. These firms have a habit of getting excited by the games industry—which any metaverse would intrinsically be a part of—only suddenly end their interest and scorch entire ecosystems and businesses. Facebook even did this during the height of browser games success on its platform as it chased ad spend (and later closed its dedicated Facebook Gaming App).

Meanwhile, Apple doesn’t really care about games despite a wildly profitable business, and the likes of Snap and ByteDance have also invested heavily, only to abandon their big games strategies (or at least downsize them).

Any ‘Metaverse’ will likely be built by the companies that can actually focus their entire business on it—for all of Meta’s big rebrand, it could never ignore its main, existing businesses and anything that can increase shareholder value.

At the moment, the companies that can focus on the metaverse are chiefly Fortnite and Roblox, who have the largest online worlds, full of user generated content and the tools that power it, as well the deepest pockets amongst these companies. Fortnite remains a phenomenon generating billions of dollars each year, while GamesIndustry.biz reports that Roblox just hit a record 66.1 million daily active users (along with record revenue but continued losses). These companies are hardly ‘dead’, as Tim Sweeney sarcastically tweeted. Another start-up could come along with a clear plan to evolve the internet and/or virtual worlds, but it will need heavy investment and leadership willing to stay the course for any hope of making it.

Whether the ‘metaverse’ will actually amount to more than an online game is anyone’s guess (though clearly there are plenty who think it won’t). But it’s safe to say these virtual worlds have evolved to support more players than ever and empower creativity. They have also become more of a destination for players to socialise outside of the core gameplay, such as at virtual concerts, watching a film or other events.

If any of these companies succeed, they’ll become the next big thing in tech. But big tech just doesn’t have the patience.

Key stories:

Legend of Zelda game sells 10 million copies in three days https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-65609932

Nintendo has done it again, with its latest game The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom proving a surefire hit after selling 10 million copies in three days. It’s taken one of its top franchises, innovated with new gameplay mechanics, and created a best seller. Nintendo has always been great at taking industry trends—in this case, user generated content—and turning them into highly accessible and fun gameplay mechanics (or just creating those trends in the first place).

Advertising Drives $2 Out of Every $3 Spent on Mobile 

https://www.data.ai/en/insights/market-data/state-of-app-revenue-2023/

Mobile game ads generated approximately $118 billion in 2022, more than the approximately $110 billion accrued from in-app spending in games, according to data.ai’s State of App Revenue 2023 report. Overall, the mobile app economy is said to be worth $500 billion, with mobile ads taking a 67% chunk ($336 billion). These are of course just estimates, but it’s a fascinating insight into the mobile ads market for games.

Other stories and insights:

European Commission approves Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal

https://www.gamesindustry.biz/european-commission-approves-microsoft-activision-blizzard-deal

Axie Infinity and the App Store 

https://gamestx.substack.com/p/axie-infinity-and-the-app-store

AR pet game Peridot is nothing like Pokémon Go, and more interesting for it 

https://www.eurogamer.net/ar-pet-game-peridot-is-nothing-like-pokemon-go-and-more-interesting-for-it

Ubisoft has licensed a series of Assassin’s Creed NFTs

https://www.videogameschronicle.com/news/ubisoft-has-licensed-a-series-of-assassins-creed-nfts/

Meta Discontinues Events Creation Tool In Horizon Worlds

https://www.beyondgames.biz/36659/meta-discontinues-events-creation-tool-in-horizon-worlds/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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