Tech leaders criticize metaverse; Xbox head calls it a “poorly built video game”

October 27, 2022

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Tech Leaders Discuss the Metaverse’s Future | WSJ Tech Live 2022

Meta is investing a lot in the metaverse, but a lot of individuals in the industry are still skeptical about it and its current state. At the WSJ Tech Live conference, the technology received a special highlight when various leaders were asked to define it. One of them is Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, who described it as “a poorly built video game.”

Spencer didn’t directly mention Meta in his specific statement but expressed disappointment with how it is being used as a boring professional gathering place, which is something being promoted by Zuckerberg’s company. “Video game creators have an amazing ability to build compelling worlds that we want to go spend time in,” Spencer explained. “For me, building a metaverse that looks like a meeting room… I just find that’s not where I want to spend most of my time.”

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel applied the same approach in defining the metaverse concept by relating it to the current experiences available now to users. He described it as “living inside a computer” and that “the last thing I want to do when I get home from work at the end of a long day is live inside a computer.”

Disney CEO Bob Chapek, on the other hand, refused not to say the word and said, “we tend not to use the word because for us, that’s a big, broad term. For us, it’s next-generation storytelling.” the same answer was implied by Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak who said the metaverse is “a word I’ll never use.”

Meanwhile, other leaders directly expressed utter displeasure with the works being done by Meta to the metaverse technology. All Turtles and mmhmm CEO Phil Libin directly described himself as a “hater” of the metaverse and said the “Facebook vision of the metaverse is… so stupid it makes me sad. It accomplishes nothing. The reason is hard to define because it’s that stupid like this should be a red flag.”

Activate CEO Michael J. Wolfe, on the other hand, delivered a different view of the metaverse, which “will lead to a new technology paradigm.” He further explained that games are the “proto metaverse” and even showed a short clip of Call of Duty Modern Warfare” featuring a “digital twin of Amsterdam.” However, while the graphics of the game is truly impressive, this is not the case for the current condition of the metaverse that Zuckerberg’s company is trying to grow.

Back in August, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg received boatloads of criticism and even became the center of memes and jokes after posting a screenshot of his avatar in front of the Eiffel Tower. Many pointed out how literally a $10 billion budget was used in its metaverse division Reality Labs but still ended up delivering a funny-looking image. Zuckerberg defended the post saying it “was pretty basic” and “was taken very quickly to celebrate a launch,” but “graphics in Horizon are capable of much more — even on headsets — and Horizon is improving very quickly.”

In spite of some of the harsh comments of the executives, it really is possible that Meta’s metaverse product could offer more in the future. In the latter part of his statements, Spencer expressed that despite describing the metaverse as an unimpressive video game, it is still premature to generalize it. “I tease a little bit in [saying it’s] a bad video game. I just think we’re early,” he said. “[The metaverse is] going to end up looking a lot more like video games than some of the models that I see for the metaverse today.”

This possibility could just be around the corner, especially with Microsoft and Meta recently starting a new partnership to bring the former’s products like Microsoft 365, Windows 365, and Xbox Cloud Gaming services to Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro. With further collaborations, Meta can receive a huge deal of help from the company that has sufficient resources and knowledge to produce life-like game visuals. But for now, unfortunately, it is really a need to admit that the metaverse’s appearance under Meta’s efforts is depressing. 

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