Metaverse Jamming: Meta’s Branding Challenges and Web3’s Wild West Moment

Meta wants to be the leading architect of the metaverse and one of the leaders of the future of web3. But his vision for the future of technology and ownership is at odds with many real Web3 promoters. Here are some of the challenges the company has faced in the past with Facebook and how it plans its next steps.

Meta, formerly Facebook, spent billions of dollars to position itself as a pioneering force in the metaverse. But others view the company as opposed to everything the Web3 movement implies. Now, a dichotomy has emerged between the company’s vision for the future of the metaverse – led by Meta – and the creator -centered vision.

The dichotomy between these two visions can be boiled down to a question: who controls the metaverse?

In theory, the answer is no one – and everyone. Metaverse is based on the blockchain, an immutable digital ledger, specifically designed to be decentralized; in other words, not allowing centralized, top-down control over individuals, companies, government, or any other entity.

At the most basic level, the same is true for the internet. At least that was true when it was first conceived in the second half of the 20th century, when the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) began building a decentralized network of computers in by the United States being able to remain unaffected if the country is attacked by a nuclear weapon. But as the Internet has evolved over the past few decades, it has fallen more into the orbit of capitalist dynamics. Today, in the age of web2, very few companies control an unequal part of the flow of information. For example, Google can’t own the Internet in the literal sense, but that company certainly has a big role to play in controlling how the average person interacts with it.

This is, in essence, the paradigm that web3 – the third stage of the evolution of the Internet – seeks to end. Web3 idealists envision a world where closed, data -hungry organizations that have long controlled and profited from centralized control of the flow of information will be replaced by a decentralized community of coders and creators working together to making information more transparent, reliable and accessible. . The metaverse is often seen as an important part of this vision, a virtual space where people can meaningfully interact across vast geographic distances. Imagine a Zoom call where all participants actually stand in an immersive digital space as personalized virtual avatars, communicating not only verbally but through well-calibrated body language, managing business of smart contracts based on blockchain and exchange of currencies not controlled by any bank or centralized authority. .

Some of the idealists suspect that Meta aims to implement the same control paradigm it enjoyed during the Web2 era into the evolving Web3 world.

The metamorphosis of Facebook

Web3, as a socio-political movement and a technological framework, has grown rapidly. Today, many companies are trying to join the trend. Meta is clearly stronger than Metaverse, as evidenced by the company’s name change last year.

Facebook, the company’s previous comeback, is a major player in the Web2 world. It has become a social media giant, monetizing the world’s rapid growth primarily through the sale of user data and advertising. Needless to say, this business model got the hot water company legal, and its founder and CEO – Mark Zuckerberg – in the U.S. Supreme Court. Many believe the company’s decision to rename itself as Meta is an attempt to distract the public from past violations and give everyone a shiny new thing – the Metaverse – to focus their attention on. attention.

“It’s all in the name,” said Amanda Cassatt, co-founder and CEO of Serotonin, a company that strives to guide Web3 brands. “They seem to be trying to create the false impression that Meta is the same as Metaverse. And in my opinion, they probably did it not only because it’s a big revenue new area and it looks like the future, but also because some of their existing platforms and products have failed.And I suspect they want to distract investors from the fact that, for example, Facebook users have disappeared.

Meta defines its goals very differently. “Our mission from the beginning has always been to help people connect in better, more immersive and more personal ways … the new name really reflects the direction our company is taking and also our commitment. to build the future of social technology, ”Nicola said. Mendelsohn, vice president of the global business group Meta.

The company does not claim to seek to monopolize Metaverse: “Metaverse is not something Meta – or any other company, for that matter – owns,” Mendelsohn said. “Our goal is to simply jump-start the ecosystem and accelerate the development of tools and technology that will help everyone interested in making it work together.”

While Meta does not explicitly refer to a metaverse monopoly, it clearly refers to the name that people immediately think of when they hear the phrase “the metaverse”. Intentionally or not, this has led to some widespread confusion about the metaverse itself: according to a recent study, more than a quarter (27%) of U.S. consumers “misunderstand the term metaverse referring to Meta’s proprietary technology ”.

The scale has a cost

With its enormous wealth and user base, Meta is able to offer creators – those individuals and organizations trying to sell a product or service in the metaverse – a huge advantage: scalability. “They attract a huge global audience of 3 billion people, so they give a creator an instant measure,” said TJ Leonard, chief executive of stock media company Storyblocks. “You get instant scale, from day one, and you don’t have that underneath, idealistic [version of web3]. ”

Scalability is one thing, cost is another. Just a few weeks ago, Meta announced a new “creator fee” to Horizon Worlds of 47.5% – meaning the company will take in almost half of all revenue generated by its platform creators. (Apple now charges 30% for all of its App Store transactions, a fee that Zuckerberg has publicly criticized.)

Meta’s rationale for high creator and platform fees is that building the metaverse is significantly expensive – so anyone who wants to play has to pay. “We believe the fees we pay are competitive and allow us to invest in Horizon Worlds and improve the platform while allowing creators to get the most out of revenue,” a spokesperson said. from Meta to The Drum in an email. On its Meta Quest platform, for example, the company says it uses “revenue earned from our store to directly recoup the cost of our retail Quest devices. Our approach is to expand the virtual market. reality (VR) by shipping inexpensive devices, and those revenues are essential to maintaining a rapid retail price for the headsets.

Meta also shows that the current pricing structure will improve with the metaverse itself. “This is just the beginning – there is still a lot of work to be done and we continue to work hard with our creators and developers so that they can generate meaningful revenue,” the Meta spokesperson wrote. “We have achieved our goal of ensuring that developers have a path to real financial success with our platform. If the web version of Horizon launches, the Horizon platform fee will be only 25%, a rate that much lower than other similar building platforms in the world. »

Even the introduction of new Meta fees seems to alienate many creators – most of whom are struggling to make a living from their work. The advent of NFTs certainly marks a huge new opportunity for digital artists, but the picture is a little more rosy when a major tech company says almost half of all income you get from selling your tokens on its platform. .

Yes, creators can still choose to leave Horizon Worlds if they are not happy with the new Meta Creation Fee. But again, scalability is important. The reality of the current state of Metaverse is that there aren’t many platforms that offer as many audiences as the likes of Meta. The Metaverse is a vast and ever-changing place, and being alone as a struggling artist can be dangerous.

But after Meta announced its new fees, many artists apparently chose to avoid the company – which they thought was deaf to the needs of its community – in favor of more creator -friendly platforms. . . Cassatt sums it up frankly: “The Web3 community was vomiting in its mouth when Meta announced a 47.5% production fee.”

Access and cost are not the only barriers that stand between the metaverse and creators seeking to monetize their work. There is also interoperability – or rather its lack. In the context of Web3, “interoperability” is the ability of avatars and assets to move smoothly between platforms. This is currently a largely theoretical concept, an ideal that many companies supposedly aspire for but remains, at present, more difficult to implement due to the amount of computing power required.

The metaverse is still in its infancy. As it progresses, Meta will face the challenge of proving to the creator community that it is not a web2 Goliath disguised as a web3 David. It’s probably a heavy battle: “No one on Web3 thinks Facebook is cool,” Cassatt said. “And really, all of web3 has seen this curse, and part of the reason we created web3 is to fight against the business model … Don’t confuse Meta with the metaverse.”

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