The Metaverse was a concept that captured the imagination of many - a 3D virtual world, accessible by anyone with access to the Internet. But what happened to it? Where did it go? In this article, we will delve into the history of the Metaverse and examine why it fell out of favor despite its initial surge in popularity.
- In 1992, the concept of the Metaverse was originally developed by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash. He envisioned an interconnected set of digital social networks. He shared places in which individuals could create avatars to interact with one another, much as they do today in MMO games such as World of Warcraft.
- In the early 2000s, startups began popping up to bring Stephenson's vision to life. Companies such as Second Life spun tales of living and interacting online in fully immersive 3D worlds that had something for everyone from business owners to gamers. These platforms experienced initial success but quickly ran into technical issues due to their complexity and limited scalability.
Additionally, early builds of these metaverse tools often had significant issues that did not attract enough users for developers to consider building on. This further eroded trust among users and investors who saw these platform failures firsthand. Even tech giants like Apple and Google had failed before Facebook's attempts into the metaverse.
- A major setback occurred when Apple released its own augmented reality toolkit shortly after Google officially shut down its Tango platform — both Augmented Reality-driven immersive experiences seeking similar goals as the Metaverse projects. As developers opted for more advanced (and arguably more secure) paths toward delivering gaming experiences, enthusiasm around developing the Metaverse waned significantly leading players away from 3D environments altogether.
Besides that, there were many notable attempts that have been considered to be failing:-
Second Life: While Second Life still exists and has a small but dedicated user base, it never became the mainstream metaverse that some had predicted it would be. The platform was launched in 2003 and peaked in popularity in the mid-2000s before declining in the face of competition from other social platforms and changing cultural trends.
Google Lively: Google Lively was a virtual world platform launched by Google in 2008. It allowed users to create avatars and interact with each other in virtual rooms. However, the project was shut down in 2008 after just a few months of operation due to low user numbers.
Blue Mars: Blue Mars was a virtual world platform launched in 2009. It was designed to be a more realistic and immersive metaverse than Second Life, but it failed to gain traction and shut down in 2011.
There.com: There.com was a virtual world platform launched in 2003. It allowed users to create avatars and interact with each other in a 3D world. However, it struggled to attract users and shut down in 2010.
Kaneva: Kaneva was a social platform that included a virtual world component. It was launched in 2004 and went through several iterations over the years. However, it failed to attract a large user base and shut down in 2021.
To make matters worse, many attorneys found that existing laws were not sufficient enough to govern activities between users within digital environments; this put yet another hurdle up in front of developers trying to make Stephenson's dream a reality.
- Cost concerns combined with factors such as overreaching privacy policies; lack of diverse offerings to engage audiences once an experience had been built;
- Marketing difficulties associated with complex virtual world-building tools – made working on these platforms particularly unappealing for companies outside a few select verticals like fashion or automotive retailing which require highly specialized creative development.
- Due to technical limitations, legal/regulatory concerns, cost issues, privacy/security challenges, marketing hurdles, and market forces –the dream of bringing about a truly unified Metaverse has yet eluded us all so far.
However, with generative AI tools like ChatGPT, and StableDiffusion to make realistic content relatively easier, there could be a chance that Facebook Meta might be the start of something wonderful for metaverse fans.
In the next article, you will learn about how to build a metaverse project using today's most popular technology tools, from developing software platforms to creating interactive environments tailored for different types of activities. Even if you're relatively new to coding and software engineering, you'll be able to use these techniques to start building your own metaverse projects.
Are you interested in tapping into the potential of the emerging Metaverse? We also have a guide to help entrepreneurs identify and evaluate important business ideas for your metaverse journey as well as multiple case studies to learn from. Regardless if you’re a startup or an established company, you can gain valuable insights into how others have found success in the realm of virtual reality.