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

Meta aims to be the main architect of the metaverse and one of the leaders of the future of web3. But his vision of the future of technology and property is at odds with many true Web3 proponents. Here are some of the challenges the company, formerly known as Facebook, will face and how it plans its next steps.

Meta, formerly Facebook, spends billions of dollars positioning itself as a pioneer in the metaverse. But some see the company as the antithesis of everything the Web3 movement stands for. Nowadays, a dichotomy arises between the company’s vision of the future of the metaverse – led by Meta – and the vision in which the creator is central.

The dichotomy between these two views can be reduced to a single question: who controls the metavers?

In theory, the answer is nobody – and everyone. The Metaverse is based on the blockchain, an immutable digital ledger, which is specifically designed to be decentralized; in other words, not to allow centralized top-down control by individuals, corporations, governments, or any other entity.

At the most basic level, the same is true of the Internet. At least that was true when it was first conceived in the latter half of the 20th century, when the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) set out to build a decentralized network of computers across the United States that would remain intact. could remain if the country were attacked by a nuclear weapon. But as the Internet has evolved over the past few decades, it has increasingly fallen into the orbit of capitalist dynamics. Today, in the age of the Web2, a small handful of companies control a disproportionate share of the flow of information. For example, Google may not own the Internet in the literal sense, but that company certainly plays an outrageous role in determining how the average person interacts with it.

In fact, this is the paradigm that wants to end web3 – the third evolutionary phase of the Internet. Web3 idealists envision a world where the closed, data-hungry organizations that have long controlled and benefited from centralized control over the flow of information will be replaced by a decentralized community of programmers and creators working together to make information more transparent. , more reliable and accessible . The metaverse is generally seen as an important part of this vision, a virtual space where people can communicate meaningfully over large geographical distances. Imagine a Zoom call in which all participants are actually in an immersive digital space as personalized virtual avatars, communicating not only verbally but also through finely calibrated body language, doing business on blockchain-based smart contracts and exchanging currencies that not be controlled by any bank or centralized authority.

Some idealists suspect that Meta wants to implement the same control paradigm it did in the Web2 era in the nascent Web3 world.

The metamorphosis of Facebook

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

Facebook, the previous iteration of the company, was a major player in the Web2 world. It has become a social media giant, monetizing its rapid global growth primarily through the sale of user data and advertising. Needless to say, this business model put the company in legal trouble, and its founder and CEO – Mark Zuckerberg – in the US Supreme Court. Many believe that the company’s decision to rebrand itself as Meta was primarily an attempt to distract the public from its past transgressions and give everyone a shiny new object — the Metaverse — to focus their attention on.

“It’s all in the name,” said Amanda Cassatt, co-founder and CEO of Serotonin, a company committed to leading brands to Web3. “It seems they are trying to create the false impression that Meta is identical to the Metaverse. And in my opinion, they’re probably doing it not just because it’s a lucrative new territory and it looks like the future, but also because some of their existing platforms and products failed. And I suspect they wanted to distract investors from Facebook losing users, for example.

Meta defines her goals very differently. “Our mission from the beginning has always been to help people connect in a better, more immersive and personal way…the new name truly reflects the direction our company is taking, as well as our commitment to shaping the future of social technology. build,” says Nicola. Mendelsohn, vice president of the global business group at Meta.

The company claims not to try to monopolize the Metaverse: “The Metaverse is not something that Meta — or any other company for that matter — will own,” Mendelsohn says. “Our goal is simply to jump-start the ecosystem and accelerate the development of tools and technologies that will help anyone interested build it together.”

While Meta doesn’t explicitly aim for a metaverse monopoly, it clearly strives to be the name people immediately think of when they hear the phrase “the metaverse.” Intentional or not, this has led to some widespread confusion about the metaverse itself: According to a recent survey, more than a quarter (27%) of U.S. consumers “misunderstand the term metaverse to refer to proprietary Meta technology.”

Libra has a price

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

Scalability is one thing, cost another. Just a few weeks ago, Meta announced a new “creator fee” on Horizon Worlds of 47.5% – meaning the company will take nearly half of all the profits creators earn on its platform. (Apple currently charges 30% for all App Store transactions, a fee Zuckerberg has publicly criticized.)

Meta’s rationale for its high creator and platform cost is that building the metaverse is essentially expensive – so anyone who wants to play will have to pay. “We believe that the fees we charge are competitive and allow us to invest in Horizon Worlds and grow the platform while allowing creators to earn the bulk of the revenue,” a Meta spokesperson said. The Drum in an email. For example, in its Meta Quest platform, the company states that it “uses the revenue from our store to directly offset the cost of our retail Quest devices. Our approach is to grow the virtual reality (VR) market by affordable devices, and this revenue is critical to maintaining an accessible retail price for headsets.

Meta also indicates that the current pricing structure will evolve with the metaverse itself. “This is the start – there is still a lot of work to do and we will continue to work closely with our creators and developers to enable them to generate meaningful revenue,” the Meta spokesperson wrote. “We are achieving our goal of ensuring developers have a path to true financial success on our platform. When the web version of Horizon launches, the Horizon platform fee will be just 25%, a rate much lower than other comparable world-building platforms. †

Still, the introduction of the new Meta Fees seems to alienate many creators — many of whom are struggling to make a living from their works. The advent of NFTs has certainly marked a big new opportunity for digital artists, but the picture is much less rosy when a major tech company says it will cost nearly half of all the revenue you make 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 the Metaverse is that there just aren’t that many platforms that provide the massive audience that people like Meta are capable of. The Metaverse is a sprawling and ever-changing place, and going out alone as a struggling performer can be risky.

But after Meta announced its new fees, many artists apparently chose to eschew the company — which they believe is deaf to the needs of its community — in favor of more creator-friendly platforms. Cassatt summed it up succinctly: “The Web3 community collectively vomited in its mouth when Meta announced the 47.5% creation fee.”

Access and cost aren’t the only barriers between the metaverse and creators looking to monetize their work. There is also interoperability – or rather the lack of it. In a Web3 context, “interoperability” is essentially the ability for avatars and assets to move seamlessly between platforms. This is currently a largely theoretical concept, an ideal that many companies ostensibly strive for, but which remains extremely difficult to implement at the moment due to the enormous computational power required.

The metaverse is still in its infancy. As it develops, Meta will rise to the challenge of proving to the creator community that it’s not web2 Goliath disguised as a web3 David. It’s probably going to be an uphill battle: “Nobody on Web3 thinks Facebook is cool,” Cassatt says. “And in fact, all of web3 hates it, and part of the reason we created web3 was to fight against that business model… Don’t confuse Meta with the metaverse.”

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