The « empty and sad world » of the metaverse
Things are not going well among employees of Meta, formerly Facebook. Their company, since its name change, goes straight into the very real wall of the metaverse, thought to be the immersive Internet of tomorrow. Despite no less than 15 billion dollars invested, nothing helps: less than 200,000 people visit the platform per month, less than last February. We are far from the 500,000 active users planned for the end of the year. An internal memo, retrieved by the Wall Street Journal, even illustrates the distress of the employees. Horizon Worlds, the name of Facebook’s metaverse, “is an empty and sad world”, summarizes the document.
According to internal statistics, only 9% of “worlds” (virtual reality applications) built by creators have been visited by at least 50 people. Worse, Horizon Worlds visitors generally don’t return to the app after the first month, so the user base has plummeted since spring. If Meta’s social tools (Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in the lead) attract more than 3.5 billion average monthly users, almost half of the world’s population, Horizon Worlds users are as numerous as the inhabitants. from Limoges.
the stock has fallen more than 60% in one year
Also according to the note, Meta employees themselves do not use the product enough. “The simple truth is, if we don’t like it, how can we expect our users to like it? » worries Vishal Shah, the vice-president of the metaverse. Another much more concrete obstacle to the adoption of the metaverse, it is currently only accessible to owners of a Quest virtual reality headset, built and sold by Meta, which is not found at less than 450 euros. Mark Zuckerberg proudly announced a new high-end helmet for architects, engineers and designers in the metaverse; he thought of the less wealthy, and promises that ordinary mortals will soon be able to visit Horizon Worlds from a simple smartphone, in two dimensions, therefore with some limitations. The metaverse also lacks influencers, the main influencers of social networks. If, through brand partnerships and disguised advertising messages, they can make a living on TikTok or Instagram, nothing like it exists in the metaverse yet.
Even if Meta remains a very profitable company – 40 billion dollars in net income in 2021 – the action has fallen by more than 60% in one year: 700 billion dollars in capitalization have thus melted. With his usual empathy, the CEO warned that « soon the company will be a bit smaller », euphemizing his plan for layoffs. Zuckerberg continues to believe in his metaverse. He knows that the value of his company is directly linked to the attention his users give him: their available brain time. With virtual reality, the metaverse is much more immersive, and therefore potentially much more profitable in terms of advertising.