Largest metaverse platform had just 38 daily users and made a total of $470.
Valued at $13 TRILLION in 2021
There was a time, not so long ago, when every major architect on this planet was “building” in the Metaverse, the brand name for the open-world virtual reality platform and associated projects under the aegis of Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta. Last year, some staggering names such as Zaha Hadid Architects, Grimshaw, Farshid Moussavi, and, of course, the Bjarke Ingels Group pledged to create “virtual cities,” virtual “offices,” and equally vague sounding “social spaces” to be funded with cryptocurrency and supplied with art (NFTs). The eagerness to latch onto whatever the newest trend the increasingly desperate and failure-prone tech industry dished out was so palpable that even real-life developers like hotel chain CitizenM and brands like Jose Cuervo got involved and threw what one presumes is a whole lot of actual money at the enterprise. The rush to move into virtual real estate was a full-on frenzy.
In some respects, who could blame these companies and firms? Since the virtual reality service’s launch in 2021, the so-called “successor to the mobile internet” became the recipient of a kind of soaring hype few things are ever blessed with. According to Insider, McKinsey claimed that the Metaverse would bring businesses $5 trillion in value. Citi valued it at no less than $13 trillion.
There was only one problem: The whole thing was bullshit. Far from being worth trillions of dollars, the Metaverse turned out to be worth absolutely bupkus. It’s not even that the platform lagged behind expectations or was slow to become popular. There wasn’t anyone visiting the Metaverse at all.
The sheer scale of the hype inflation came to light in May. In the same article, Insider revealed that Decentraland, arguably the largest and most relevant Metaverse platform, had only 38 active daily users. The Guardian reported that one of the features designed to reward users in Meta’s flagship product Horizon Worlds produced no more than $470 in revenue globally. Thirty-eight active users. Four hundred and seventy dollars. You’re not reading those numbers wrong. To say that the Metaverse is dead is an understatement. It was never alive.
In retrospect, that’s not surprising. If you are wondering what the point of the Metaverse is—business meetings? parties? living out a kind of late-’90s Second Life fantasy but without legs?—you are not alone. In fact, no one, even Zuckerberg himself, was ever really clear what the whole enterprise was for except being the future of the Internet and a kind of vague hanging out. And yet, that use case dilemma didn’t stop our profession from dragging their tongues on the floor in search of a quick press release or blurb to show that they were, after all, on the cutting edge of all things.