Last week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg attracted a flurry of attention to his metaverse platform, for all the wrong reasons.
The trouble began when, to celebrate the launch of Meta’s Horizon Worlds in France and Spain, Zuckerberg posted a selfie of his metaverse avatar standing in front of digital renderings of the Eiffel Tower and La Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona.
The internet was quick to make fun of the grainy selfie, pointing out that it resembled decades-old video games as well as the virtual world game called Second Life—which arguably became the first popular “metaverse” back in 2003. Zuckerberg’s selfie was so widely circulated on social media it even got its own entry on the website knowyourmeme.com which posts the stories behind viral memes.
This weekend, Zuckerberg responded to his critics with a new and improved selfie of his avatar that he posted on Facebook and Instagram. In the post, the billionaire admitted that his first selfie was “pretty basic,” but said that it was taken “very quickly to celebrate a launch.”
Instead of a backdrop of illogically proximate monuments, his new “selfie” was taken in front of a gray background. Albeit the second iteration looked more like him and lacked the seemingly dead eyes of his previous selfie.
In the same post, Zuckerberg also included a picture of digitally rendered ancient ruins, presumably from his metaverse platform, and said the graphics in his virtual world are not as basic as his first selfie was.
“The graphics in Horizon are capable of much more — even on headsets — and Horizon is improving very quickly,” he said in the post.
The metaverse, a series of digital worlds where players can hang out with friends, play games, and shop, was one of the biggest buzzwords of 2021. Major hype, fueled in part by Facebook’s rebrand to Meta, fueled a rush for investors and major companies such as Adidas, Samsung, and JP Morgan to buy land in the metaverse.
But the definition of the metaverse remains hazy. While some believe that a true virtual world must incorporate Web3 technologies like crypto and NFTs, others say that any video game with a navigable world, like Microsoft’s Minecraft, is considered a metaverse.
Whatever, the true definition, some banks including Citi and Morgan Stanley, put the future value of the so-called “metaverse” at between $8 trillion and $13 trillion as people begin spending more time in virtual worlds.
Zuckerberg’s Meta also has high aspirations for the future of the metaverse. Last year the company poured $10 billion into its metaverse division Reality Labs. In the second quarter of this year, the company posted a $2.8 billion loss on the division, 15% higher than its loss in the same quarter in 2021.
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