Zuckerberg’s Metaverse Is off to a Rough Start

October 11, 2022 Topic: Metaverse Region: Americas Blog Brand: Techland Tags: Mark ZuckerbergMetaMetaverseNew York TimesFacebook

Zuckerberg’s Metaverse Is off to a Rough Start

The New York Times has published a report on the company’s struggles in developing its metaverse plans. 

Last year Mark Zuckerberg made a big gamble and staked the future of Facebook on the metaverse, even changing his firm’s name to Meta.

Now, the New York Times has published a report on the company’s struggles in developing its metaverse plans. 

“Meta has spent billions of dollars and assigned thousands of employees to make Mr. Zuckerberg’s dream feasible. But Meta’s metaverse efforts have had a rocky start,” the Times said. It went on to describe the company’s flagship virtual-reality game, Horizon Worlds, as “buggy and unpopular,” with employees of the company not wanting to use it. The Verge reported earlier this month that Vishal Shah, the vice president in charge of Meta’s metaverse division, had expressed disappointment in how few employees of the company were using Horizon Worlds

“Why don’t we love the product we’ve built so much that we use it all the time?” Mr. Shah asked on a company message board, as reported by the Times. “The simple truth is, if we don’t love it, how can we expect our users to love it?”

The Times also cited data showing that of 1,000 company employees surveyed recently just 58 percent said that they understood the company’s metaverse strategy.

“The pressures Meta’s business is facing in 2022 are acute, significant, and not metaverse-related,” Matthew Ball, an investor and metaverse expert who has advised Zuckerberg in the past, told the Times. “And there is a risk that almost everything Mark has outlined about the metaverse is right, except the timing is farther out than he imagined.”

Meta offered a statement of its own. “Being a cynic about new and innovative technology is easy,” Andy Stone, a company spokesman, said. “Actually building it is a lot harder — but that’s what we’re doing because we believe the metaverse is the future of computing.”

The company says that Horizon Worlds currently has 300,000 monthly active users, although that’s much fewer than the 2.9 billion monthly active Facebook users. 

Since Zuckerberg’s announcement last year, there has been skepticism about what Meta is trying to do in the metaverse. Reggie Fils-Aime, the since-retired longtime head of Nintendo of America, ripped the company’s plans in a South by Southwest festival discussion last spring. 

“I don’t think that their current definition [of the metaverse] is going to be successful,” Fils-Aime said, per Gizmodo. “You have to admit that Facebook itself is not an innovative company. They have either acquired really interesting things, like Oculus, like Instagram, or they’ve been a fast follower of other people’s ideas. Inherently, they are not an innovative company other than the very original social platform that was created many years ago.”

In further bad news for the company, a report this week stated that Russia has labeled Meta a “terrorist organization.” 

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.