Readers Rant

Reader Rant: Other Companies Are Delivering on Meta’s Metaverse Vision More Than Meta Itself

Meta Rec Room VRChat

Longtime reader Martin K. has a pretty excellent rant responding to Meta’s vision for the Metaverse from its global exec Nick Clegg. And while I might recommend taking some of it with some dashes of sodium, Martin hits pretty hard:

Maybe the most interesting aspects of that essay are the things that Meta is doing today but Nick Clegg is not talking about. For example, regarding “Economic opportunity — how we can give people more choice, and maintain a thriving digital economy.” The evolving metaverse crypto-scene is full of scams, fraud, rug-pulls, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, bubbles without any real value, etc. What is Meta doing to protect their users? They just introduced NFTs on Instagram this month.

Or regarding “Equity and inclusion — how we can make sure these technologies are designed inclusively and in a way that’s accessible.” Contrast this with all the people who are excluded from using Horizon Worlds today: To use Horizon Worlds, you need a Oculus Rift or Quest 2, but Meta still requires a Facebook account to use a Quest 2. In fact, they don’t sell the Quest 2 in Germany, because bundling products in this way is probably unlawful in Germany. Even Quest 1 users cannot use Horizon Worlds (unless they run the app on a PC). Users outside Canada and the U.S. must not use Horizon Worlds. Users below the age of 18 years must not use Horizon Worlds.

That’s not quite fair, you may think; for instance, Horizon is still in beta, right?

More from Martin:

Is it fair to complain about these limitations of a beta version? Horizon Worlds has been announced in 2019. At the age of 2 years and a bit, competitor Rec Room has been available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality, and PlayStationVR with a special COPPA-compliant “junior” mode for players under(!) the age of 13 years (and more platforms following soon after).

Or regarding “interoperability — the interconnections of standards, systems and applications that enable people to travel seamlessly between one part of the metaverse and another.” One form of interoperability of HTML is that you click a hyperlink and get to a website. In Horizon Worlds, you cannot set up a portal to another world without explicit permission by the owner of that world. It’s like you have to ask a website owner for permission to set a hyperlink to their website.

On Meta Quest, the most successful metaverse competitors for Horizon Worlds are VRChat and Rec Room. But Meta Quest users wouldn’t know about them when looking at Meta’s lists of “Most Popular Apps“, or “Games to Get You Started“. Their own app store does not properly inform their own users about the most popular apps on their own platform. That’s how far interoperability goes for Meta when it comes to interoperability with competitors.

As always: It’s actions, not words, that matter.

In fairness to Meta, Rec Room and VRChat do show up at the top in the Quest store, under Most Popular Games. (See above.) Meta seems to be going for a Netflix-style recommendation system that’s not necessarily nefarious. Then again, to Martin’s point, other companies are delivering on a version of Meta’s vision faster than Meta, while not introducing questionable NFTs. (VRChat recently made a Definite No statement against those.) And if Meta had a ranking chart of most used apps, it’s almost certain that VRChat and Rec Room would be up there in the top, and Meta’s own platform fairly far down below.

Thanks to Adeon for help snooping Meta’s recommendation system.

Have A Great Week From All Of Us At Zoha Islands/Fruit Islands