The Metaverse Won’t Happen Overnight, Says Forrester, The Real World Always Offers More Attractions

Just weeks after Mark Zuckerberg finally figured out how to put legs on metaverse avatars, would-be users are using their real feet to walk away from an expansive, immersive version of the internet to spend more time doing things in the real world as the global coronavirus pandemic ebbs.

As an initial wave of enthusiasm for metaverse projects fades, researcher Forrester predicts that measured innovation based on existing technologies and products will replace announcements promising a fast track to the metaverse.

Meta’s baby steps with its Horizon World are a far cry from the prospect that one day people will be able to do anything from cycling tournaments to practicing surgery in realistic virtual reality. However, even with the option of a virtual world with legs, 65% of online adults in the United States prefer to have in-person social experiences, Forrester found. After Meta announced abysmal earnings last week, Metaverse sentiment appears to be at an all-time low.

As the excitement wanes, Forrester predicts that immersive experiences on existing platforms will slowly resume. This way, the developers will start moving forward, rather than plummeting, towards realizing their vision for the metaverse.

The company’s report cites Microsoft
integrating its brand of virtual reality products called Mesh directly into Teams, its enterprise messaging platform, as an example of how everyday consumers will begin to experience the metaverse. The researchers predict that in 2023, at least three other collaboration technology providers, such as Zoom or Slack, will introduce metaverse-like features. While millions of people will notice these additions to their business apps, only 5% will become active users, Forrester estimates.

A barrier to entry may be the price tags attached to virtual reality headsets, a necessity for anyone looking to join a fully immersive metaverse. A Microsoft HoloLens 2 model sells for $3,500. For the less tech-savvy, the company’s HP Reverb G2 VR headset is available for $599. The MetaQuest Pro headset retails for $1,499.

A casualty of the metaverse’s failing excitement could be non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which have gained a lot of notoriety thanks to brands and celebrities launching countless collections. Forrester found that 72% of online adults in the US have never owned an NFT and have no plans to change that.

In a blockchain-based version of the metaverse, NFTs enable ownership of digital assets that would allow people to own things like virtual real estate. Celebrities have jumped on the trend, with a notable example being Snoop Dogg building a Snoopverse in The Sandbox, a virtual world. The brand universe is made up of 22 virtual lots, 67 premium lots and three estates where owners can build. A super fan paid $450,000 to buy land next to Snoop in the online neighborhood. The Forrester report predicts that NFT projects will shift from celebrity projects to NFTs related to customer loyalty. Starbucks uses NFTs to offer its customers exclusive benefits, for example.

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