Phil Spencer, the CEO of Xbox, is chiming in on a new problem once again, and he appears to grasp it better than most other breathless tech executives. It used to be his stance on NFTs; now he’s talking about the metaverse and pointing out a major flaw that everyone else in the industry seems to be overlooking.
Phil Spencer, the CEO of Xbox, understands the Metaverse problem better than Mark Zuckerberg.
In a new interview with Protocol, Spencer talks about the main issue the metaverse idea currently faces:
Spencer is right that most metaverse pitches seem company-focused, rather than player-focused:
“We’re spending a lot of time as leaders coming together talking about the learnings that we’ve had and how the technical underpinnings might come together. But more fundamental to me is why Microsoft? Like, why is this metaverse that a lot of people are focusing on, why is it better for players? Why is it better for creators?” Spencer said. “I think it’s easy for a lot of tech companies to describe why the metaverse might be better for their company. But we’ve just learned that if we put the player at the center, to use my gaming vocabulary again, and try to build an ecosystem that works around their needs and creator needs, that the platform dynamic will take off.”
You can make money selling virtual land in your virtual blockchain space!
You can sell real life products to consumers via virtual stores in the metaverse!
You can sell digital products and NFTs to consumers via virtual stores in the metaverse! Your business can have more engrossing meetings in metaverse VR spaces!
You can make loads of money in a game creation metaverse where players are making the games for you! The pitches for players, meanwhile, are less convincing. There are nebulous ideas, the concept that once a decentralized metaverse exists, you can port around digital items you buy across games, something that seems absurdly far away from the actual reality of how video game development works. You can “play to earn” in the metaverse, where your toiling away isn’t just for digital items, it’s for digital items…with value! But this is not terribly convincing to gamers who have watched gold farming and auction houses exist in very un-fun ways for decades.
The “metaverse” ideas that seem to land are outside all of these concepts. The best things resembling the metaverse are open creation platforms like Minecraft or Roblox (albeit Roblox has its own issues with its young game-making workforce). Or it’s Fortnite putting on live concerts with real celebrities you can attend dressed up as superheroes. But little of this has to do with Facebook’s grand VR vision, or crypto’s blockchain-focused future metaverse iterations, neither of which seem terribly concerned with making things fun for the user or player. It’s about revenue generation, it’s about trying to seize control of the next phase of the internet early.