The tech world moves fast, and it seems like only yesterday that the Metaverse was the hottest topic around. Now, in 2023, the buzz has shifted to AI and its incredible advancements. But what happened to the Metaverse? Did it live up to the hype, or was it just another passing fad?
The Metaverse, a collection of interoperable virtual worlds, had everyone talking in 2021 and early 2022. But since then, some big tech companies like Disney and Microsoft have closed down their Metaverse projects, and virtual real estate prices in Decentraland have taken a nosedive. Nonetheless, many enthusiasts still believe that the Metaverse is the future of virtual reality.
The Gartner Hype Cycle predicts that technologies go through a “hype” phase before reaching maturity, and the Metaverse is no exception. It’s still evolving, and we can expect to see it improve as technology advances. With the Metaverse being made up of many brands and worlds, just like the internet, it’s hard to say who will come out on top. Even though some companies are taking a break from the Metaverse for now, they could make a comeback once the technology is more standardized.
Venture capitalist and Metaverse expert Matthew Ball thinks people are starting to realize that the transformation to the Metaverse won’t happen overnight. Some tech companies have even cut jobs and abandoned Metaverse projects, signaling a shift in priorities.
But that doesn’t mean the Metaverse is dead. Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Meta Platforms Inc. are still working on the technology, even if their focus has shifted to AI. Zuckerberg mentioned AI 28 times during a recent earnings call, compared to only seven mentions of the Metaverse. Despite spending billions of dollars on the Metaverse, Meta’s flagship app, Horizon Worlds, has struggled to gain and retain users.
The lack of killer apps and slow user adoption have dampened expectations for now. Nevertheless, the Metaverse is still a long-term focus for some companies, like Meta, but AI promises more immediate returns and a wide array of use cases, making it a more attractive investment for many tech companies. While the Metaverse might still have a long way to go before it becomes fully functional, it’s far from being a mere gimmick.