Here is what Facebook’s Metaverse might look like
Facebook’s contribution to the Metaverse may not be cool skin or NFT art galleries.
The social media giant has an advantage that VR headsets and AR glasses do not have — a reach or value of 2.89 billion accounts.
The real deal about the Metaverse can be its extension into reality. Imagine a place for your Football club’s fan club to meet but is a re-creation of your home ground, a place to browse furniture. What if Facebook could drive traffic to all these places? What if Facebook ads are where someone discovered a world you built in the Metaverse or shared a 3D movie of a concert you conducted and it went viral on Instagram?
You can basically direct someone to the Metaverse from a social stream instead of a gaming portal.
How Facebook can benefit from the concept of an open Metaverse is if they add new functionalities to the Facebook and Instagram apps. For the next decade at least, it can thrive by driving traffic to worlds in the Metaverse. It could be as simple as adding a 3D store when you run a Facebook ad.
While Ariana Grande’s concert in Fortnight’s corner of the Metaverse or the Bored Ape Yacht club might still be a thing, Facebook can add value by getting you there in the first place.
The route to the Metaverse
Let’s say you’re browsing through a shoe ad on Instagram. Even with today’s technology, you can view this shoe on your feet using your phone’s camera. Instagram and Snapchat can support this.
But down the lane in 5 years, what if there is a Call To Action that says “View In 3D”. You could now be wearing AR glasses and the store might materialize in front of you or you might even be able to view a virtual showroom on your phone.
Now let’s say you can teleport to a different store from this store or walk down the virtual street and go to a different store. You have now seamlessly transferred from a mobile app to a 3D space and this 3D space is connected to others. You’ve gone from one virtual space to another.
Your journey to the Metaverse started at Instagram. Instagram made money from running the ad to you.
This could be one way Facebook can bank on the Metaverse. But there is more.
How about your own Avatar powered by Facebook?
Ready Player Me is a platform that lets you create an avatar. While there are a number of platforms that let you do that, what makes Ready Player Me stand out is that these avatars are ‘interoperable’, that is they have the ability to enter a bunch of different ‘worlds’.
The case now is that every time you enter a new world, you have to create a new avatar. An interoperable avatar will reduce the set-up time, thus reducing the gap between the people who are interested and people who participate.
Imagine if Facebook can create an Avatar for everyone by reading every user’s profile pictures. It gives avatars for their 2.89 billion users and none of the users needs to create one from scratch. They only have to edit the pre-made avatars. This reduces the friction in creating an avatar and Facebook automatically has millions of avatars ready for the Metaverse.
If you have noticed, Snapchat and Apple are also trying to do something very similar to this using Bitmoji and Memoji respectively.
Now, these avatars should be interoperable. This is how they incentivize their avatar. Why would anyone want to create an avatar when Facebook already gives them one? Of course, you can if you want to but here, it reduces the time and effort required for the ones who don’t have them.
Now, what about the virtual worlds that will make up the Metaverse?
No brand will turn away from 2.89 billion users. That’s a lot of users with their own avatar, looking to explore.
Now, these avatars can link back to your username and have other details like your credit card number or friend list attached to it.
Pseudo Anonymity is not something a lot of people care about these days, so most people will be fine with that. And remember, most people need this because they’re not here to jump from a virtual game to another. They’re probably just buying shoes or hanging out with their friends in a 3D world because it’s exciting to do that.
Is Facebook making its own Metaverse?
Nope, that’s not what it is. Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will become a Metaverse company in another five years. Here is what he said — “And my hope, if we do this well, I think over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a Metaverse company,”
What everyone understood was that Facebook was going to create its own Metaverse, perhaps a virtual world that annoyed you with ads. But this does not prove of value technically or strategically.
Firstly, nobody can create their own Metaverse. Mark said, “The Metaverse is a vision that spans many companies — the whole industry. You can think about it as the successor to the mobile internet. And it’s certainly not something that anyone company is going to build, but I think a big part of our next chapter is going to hopefully be contributing to building that, in partnership with a lot of other companies and creators and developers.”
Second, it is technically impossible to own the full stack of a Metaverse. It needs to be companies and ideas converging to create one common blanket.
Third, according to Mark, Facebook will shift from being a social media company to a Metaverse one. This does not mean he is bidding adieu to his current business strategy, one that seems to be working well at that. It is only wise for Facebook to extend what they already have and add new features.
Mark himself agrees that this is not all about Virtual Reality. He said, “But the Metaverse isn’t just virtual reality. It’s going to be accessible across all of our different computing platforms; VR and AR, but also PC, and also mobile devices, and game consoles. Speaking of which, a lot of people also think about the Metaverse as primarily something that’s about gaming. And I think entertainment is clearly going to be a big part of it, but I don’t think that this is just gaming. I think that this is a persistent, synchronous environment where we can be together, which I think is probably going to resemble some kind of a hybrid between the social platforms that we see today, but an environment where you’re embodied in it.”
What does this mean to VR?
This strategy does not ignore the work Oculus and Facebook is doing on AR glasses. AR glasses would rather be components of Facebook’s Metaverse Strategy.
Just like how no one will own the Metaverse, no one will own the AR/VR market. Those of us who have the means will own three to four pairs of glasses for different occasions or requirements. Facebook might become a market leader, winning the race among Apple, Niantic, and a few other AR companies.
This is still a niche market and will remain so for at least a decade. This is the time for the Metaverse to be built, grown, and attract a billion or more users. So the Facebook apps will be strategically leading till then.
The Internet’s Data
Facebook is not just a platform on its own. Facebook is everywhere on the internet. Are you able to recollect how many times you’ve signed up to a website/app using your Facebook account? And oh, did we tell you about how 17% of the websites have Facebook pixels? That’s 8.4 million websites! They send back your data to Facebook even if you’re not on Facebook!
So, Facebook collates data apart from their main app. The Metaverse is not going to be any different.
Facebook doesn’t own 8.4 million websites, this is going to be the case for the Metaverse as well.
How will this happen?
Well, we have made these deductions based on the assumption that there will be an open Metaverse concept.
Of course, we don’t know what is Facebook’s actual plans are and this is just one hypothesis. There are several other players competing here, making sure they are relevant in the Metaverse space.