Vitalik Buterin: “we don’t really know the definition of the metaverse yet”

Vitalik Buterin says Meta’s gung-ho approach to the metaverse will “misfire” because it is far too early to know what people will want.
Image source: CNBC

Quick take: 

  • Vitalik Buterin thinks Meta’s current metaverse strategy is likely to be unsuccessful.
  • The Ethereum founder says “it is far too early to know what people will want.”
  • Buterin’s views are based on the fact there isn’t a distinct definition of the metaverse yet.

Vitalik Buterin has criticised Meta’s big bet on the metaverse. The Ethereum founder said without a distinct definition of the metaverse, “it is far too early to know what people will want.”

The cryptocurrency proponent thinks Meta’s gung-ho approach to the metaverse will “misfire”.

The cryptocurrency proponent posted in a Twitter thread, receiving both support and backlash from his 4.1 million community of followers.

Although Buterin correctly points out that we don’t know the definition of the metaverse yet, it is generally described as a 3D virtual space of interconnected worlds where people can participate in immersive socio-economic activities like play-to-earn gaming and live concerts.

Some of the world’s largest companies led by Meta have invested heavily in a bid to take a lead in the race. But Buterin believes that it is unlikely that whatever is out there will be part of the metaverse when it eventually happens.

And one Twitter user, who admits to having been an avid gamer appears to agree: “As an ex-intense gamer I’ve been struggling for quite some time to formulate how I think about the “metaverse” all the ideas on concepts make sense, communities are moving to virtual worlds etc. but I still do not believe it will happen in the ways VCs are currently funding,” Dean Eigenmann posted.

But another user seemed to have a different opinion claiming that those that have already established themselves in the space will have a better chance for success.

“Hmm. I think the barrier to entry being a bleeding edge— a bit of evolving research hardware has created a rare case of a necessary condition favouring large incumbents. The idea wouldn’t even be under discussion without Quest 2 [Meta’s VR headset],” Venkatesh Rao replied.

But Buterin was quick to counter. Defending his statement, he wrote: “My critique is deeper than “Metaverse Wikipedia will beat Metaverse Encyclopedia Britannica”. It’s that we don’t really know the definition of “the metaverse” yet, it’s far too early to know what people actually want. So anything Facebook creates now will misfire.”

Buterin’s argument that it is far too early to know what people want also received a counter-reply from King BlackBored, who borrowed from the words of Steve Jobs posting:

Strong words there, but you’d have to say BlackBored has a point. Innovators identify consumer needs and solutions before consumers realise the importance of the product or service being offered.

The metaverse is still in a nascent stage, which means there is a lot of learning to do as the industry progresses. But then again, early adopters are likely to learn more about it than those who stay on the sidelines and watch.

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