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Despite what Zuckerberg thinks, the metaverse doesn’t need VR

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Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse dream is give investors nightmares. His $10 billion annual bet on an “embodied Internet” preceded a plunge in Meta’s value, a first-ever quarterly revenue decline and grim forecasts for growth. Horizon Worlds, his first foray into space, has only added to the concerns. The social platform is regularly mocked for slow recording, persistent bugsand ridiculous avatars. Despite mounting criticism, Zuckerberg remains optimistic about turning Facebook into a “metaverse company.” But for Herman Narula, the CEO of UK unicorn UnlikelyMeta’s view overlooks a fundamental problem.

“The problem is VR,” Narula said last week at Stanford University. “The hardware bet is so precious, so interfaces with the metaverse’s core value proposition, and [it’s] so hard to see how they are recovering that investment.”

Narula has his own metaverse plans. His company has spent a decade building immersive virtual worlds, from wargaming US military simulations until an interactive party for 1,450 K-pop fans. He has also written a book, virtual society, which outlines a theoretical framework for the metaverse. According to Narula, this includes a network of digital experiences that people can traverse — without putting on a headset. Instead, they can be entered using just a phone or PC.

Improbable develops virtual world infrastructure for games and simulations, such as an experimental version of Midwinter's Scavengers with Morpheus, which can accommodate up to 10,000 players simultaneously, and The Otherside, a gamified metaverse where users can run their NFTs.  Credit: Unlikely