Metaverse still has its limitations and risk
We do see significant potential from the latest wave of investments to upgrade to a more immersive internet but also see some limitations and risks in the latest cycle which pose obstacles and may limit its success.
A truly immersive internet would benefit from a 360-degree field of VR or with AR glasses versus access through traditional smartphones, tablets and PCs. VR saw a first wave of hype in 2016 with the launch of VR headsets by many companies and many smartphone-based VR platforms, with every major trade show seeing long lines to experience the concept.
The first wave failed to live up to the hype with only 2 mn units shipped. A combination of early hardware limitations included tethering to a PC, causing vertigo and discomfort with extended use, a lack of AAA gaming titles and content, and isolation from others while wearing it.
The VR technology is improving with better processing and sensors, faster refresh rates, higher resolution and high-speed WiFi eliminating the tethering plus content should improve with the new wave of metaverse funding. Nevertheless, VR would still lead to some discomfort from wearing for an extended time and isolating the user from their surroundings.
Mainstream interest in virtual worlds.
The hurdle for virtual worlds is higher as earlier communities faced difficulty keeping up activity 24-7 and it also needs to change user behaviour from still seeking out real-world experiences. The virtual worlds are improving in terms of audio/visual but still fall short on three of the five senses (smell, taste and touch) to be fully immersed in the experience. Some advocates are more aggressively investing in AR technologies which bring elements of the digital world into the real world.
Policing the communities.
Social media platforms have continuously faced issues over which content and authors to allow and censure, and also their ability to use AI and human monitors to take down abusive content. A decentralised metaverse, without the scale of the resources major internet providers have, may also struggle to keep up with monitoring abuse on the platform.
NFT speculation, fakes, and metaverse asset inflation.
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) represent a unique piece of data on the blockchain that claims to offer a certificate of authenticity or proof of ownership though they do not restrict sharing or copying the digital file or prevent the creation of NFTs with identical associated files. NFTs have been associated with transfers of artwork, in-game assets, music and sports cards, and can be a way to pay a creator for their work.
The NFT market, though, is introducing stolen goods, bubbles and the risk of over-saturation as more are created. The metaverse is also drawing headlines for rising real estate prices in some of the digital communities and the high-priced resale of luxury bags carrying no right to carry it into the physical world.