The Metaverse is all the rage as of late. Even if you live under a rock, it might be a $10,000 NFT rock. With countless celebrities and major companies jumping in on the hype, you would think that the Metaverse was an amazing experience. You’d be wrong. The Metaverse that exists today is outright garbage. In fact, even calling it a “Metaverse” is a bit misleading. The majority of “Metaverse” projects are nothing more than glorified online games. Let’s take a look at 3 reasons why the current state of the Metaverse just doesn’t look all that great.
If It’s Not VR, It’s NOT The Metaverse
When you picture the Metaverse in your mind, odds are it’s based on something you’ve read or heard of in the past. Maybe you watched Ready Player One and thought, “Holy shit, that looks amazing! I want to live in a virtual world where I can turn into a Gundam and fight Godzilla!” Or maybe you watched Tron and were obsessed with the vibe of The Grid. No one would blame you, The Grid has one bitchin’ aesthetic. Both of these worlds are fascinating concepts and present a view of the Metaverse that I think we can all agree is something we want (as in, give it to me right now, I’m ready).
So why are all of the current “Metaverses” simple 3D Minecraft clones that look like they come straight out of 2010? Virtual Reality headsets have gotten a lot more powerful in recent years, and you can even get advanced versions of haptic vests and gloves to build out an entire Metaverse rig. So why aren’t developers taking advantage of the tech? The appeal of the Metaverse is that you can escape your real life and experience something more than just a traditional game. In the Metaverse, you don’t play Pac-Man, you ARE Pac-Man. It’s supposed to feel REAL; that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?
So I’m making a stand right here and now. If your game isn’t at minimum based in VR, stop using the term “Metaverse.” Period.
It’s Too Expensive For Regular People
The second major problem facing the current “Metaverse” is the greed at play. For an average player looking to join the Metaverse, it can cost well over $1,000, just to get started. In fact, just to get into the BETA test of some of these games, you need to own plots of land that can cost anywhere from thousands of dollars, to tens of thousands of dollars. Basic items in games are no better. Whether it’s a tank for $500 or an Axie Infinity squad that would set you back $300 at its peak, you can’t even START playing without flushing a whole lot of money down the toilet.
I don’t know about you, but last time I checked, the economy wasn’t exactly booming. People don’t have a spare $300 lying around just to try out your game. If you want people to join the Metaverse, it’s got to be approachable. Even triple-A games that start out at $60 are sometimes flops until they go free-to-play. We saw this happen with Fall Guys who saw a resurgence in their playerbase when they made the transition to free-to-play. Players simply aren’t willing to put forward a large amount of money to find out if they even enjoy the experience. And as we just discussed, for a true Metaverse, you’re going to need to purchase VR equipment as well, further raising the price of admission.
This fact hasn’t gone unnoticed either. Players have been railing against blockchain games, NFTs, and the “Metaverse” at scale and fighting back against the predatory nature of these games. Between the scams, the insane prices, and the general attitude of the community, this doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture of the future.
Bottom line, for the Metaverse to catch on with average players and rise above the stigma that comes with the current scammy nature of the industry, it’s got to be affordable. Right now the rent is just too damn high.
It’s Just Not FUN!
This leads us into our last point, and probably the most important one. The current slate of games being labeled as “The Metaverse” just simply aren’t fun. They range from alpha builds to tech demos or, in some cases, vaporware consisting of a few Fiverr images to trick people into investing. Players can’t escape reality when the only thing the Metaverse lets them do is jump around in an empty room. Even more advanced games like “The Sandbox,” which has major investors and has been in development for years, is nothing more than a less fun version of Minecraft.
People can already play Minecraft and it’s a lot of fun. In fact, Minecraft VR is more of a Metaverse than any of the current Metaverse games I’ve seen. Why? Because not only is it more capable and more fun, but it’s in VR and it doesn’t cost $300 in digital items just to log in. I would rather see 10 projects that are existing games that are already fun being adapted to VR Worlds than one more “land sale” that tries to charge players $3,000 for a piece of land in a tech demo or a screenshot of some grass.
The problem goes back to the greed we mentioned in our previous point. Companies are focusing on profits first and then trying to go back and figure out what they are going to build or how to make it fun. This is undeniably a recipe for disaster, and we have seen it countless times. The primary focus has to be on building a good product that people actually want to play before you even think about how you are going to sell something to players. If not, the Metaverse will continue to carry the stigma that plagues NFTs, and players will continue to not only call it a scam, but outright refuse to play.
TL;DR, if your Metaverse isn’t fun, get that shit out of here. Enough said.
You Call THIS a Metaverse?
So what did we learn? Let’s recap!
If you want to call your game the Metaverse, it needs to AT LEAST meet the following criteria:
- It needs to be VR.
- It needs to be Affordable and/or Free.
- It needs to be FUN.
NONE of the current slate of games being peddled as Metaverses meet this criteria. Every single one is either a cash grab, an outdated game or tech demo straight out of 2010 or, worst of all, a couple of Fiverr images jumbled together to try and make it look like they’re game developers. There is a reason players are fighting back against NFT games and the current state of the industry. It’s because it sucks. Yeah, I said it. The current state of the Metaverse is abysmal, and without major changes, we aren’t gonna make it.
If you’re a developer out there who wants to actually make a difference and help build the future Metaverse, the one we all dream of and WANT to be a part of, I implore you, heed my advice. If you don’t, we may never get to experience the joy of living in the one true Metaverse, and that would be a sad fate indeed.