I appreciate a nice dose of escapism. Seemingly trivial pursuits leave us in wonder - an immersive book, a walk in the park with your dog, listening to music, meditation - it leaves us feeling happy and relaxed and sets our priorities back on course.
As an adult, my current relaxation reads like the list above, but in my teens, not so much. When you don’t feel the complex stress of maturity, your escapism doesn’t need to be all that healthy. I started playing a little thing called The Sims. The game allowed you to enter another world - where you could do everything you wanted, but also needed to do the essentials to survive - and hours passed when I teleported to this counterfeit life. It was glorious - and addictive.
Fast-forward to today - and we have the Metaverse that brings the simulation to real life. Instead of connecting with fake people speaking Simlish, we connect with real people on a digital platform.
But the Metaverse is no more
The platform that promised immersive and interactive experiences has run its course. While it was meant to change the way we work, it was all hype, with little demand.
Expert opinions online are mixed - some blame the sluggish economy, others perilous Covid, and the return of remote workers to hybrid or full-time work environments certainly didn’t help. But there must be more. So we dove into the complexities that influenced Metaverse’s failure from a marketing perspective, ignoring the financials and focusing on human fundamentals.
Join us as we break it down.
#1 It’s not for everyone
Let’s look at the users.
According to data from The Harris Poll, 83.5% of Metaverse users were under the age of 18. And 62% of U.S. adults did not know the purpose of the Metaverse.
Gen Z accounted for more than 60% of Metaverse gamers. While the troop of digital natives says they felt more like themselves when assuming their avatar form, this is also a generation that does not know a world without the internet. So they’ll try every platform, I guess?
The Metaverse was relying on Gen Z to tout them as the next best thing. But these trailblazers are pushing us back to authenticity and more traditional working environments. What they want changes as they mature, and because this demographic will be the most populous according to Deloitte - what they want is what they get.
Not exactly what the Metaverse was hoping for.
#2 The Metaverse came with inherent problems
The Metaverse had too many safety unknowns.
Mental health concerns regarding using the Metaverse were rife, with experts dubbing the virtual reality enigma more dangerous than social media. The premise? It could create more loneliness, going against its promise to connect us.
While the issues plaguing the platform weren't isolated to just the Metaverse, if something happened there it was more palpable than anything happening in other digital spaces because of its immersive nature. The damage was more tangible.
Between a disturbing case of virtual rape and ongoing concerns about how to monitor our children’s safety, concerns mounted. It seems like when some people can hide behind a screen, behavior unmonitored, they turn into monsters.
And the Metaverse was the perfect unregulated platform.
#3 It’s harvesting season at Apple
Apple has released Apple Vision Pro - a MIXED reality headset - no promise of virtual or augmented reality here.
With this enhanced reality, Apple allows us to comfortably slip into the sublime process of digital existence with a spatial computer. While the headset looks like a pair of goggles you take out before skiing on the slopes, it packs a punch.
The powerful device offers immersive video watching, interactive gaming, and next-level FaceTime calls.
What does Mark Zuckerberg think about it?
With his virtual reality (no originality there, ey?) headset, Quest3, coming in November this year - he doesn’t seem excited.
"I think that their announcement really showcases the difference in the values and the vision that our companies bring to this in a way that I think is really important,"
"By contrast, every demo that they showed was a person sitting on a couch by themself," he remarked of Apple's WWDC keynote.
"I mean, that could be the vision of the future of computing, but like, it's not the one that I want."
What we think
The Metaverse was too much, too soon.
It’s a cautionary tale. While the concept initially held promise, it ultimately faced challenges and inherent problems. Concerns over mental health, safety, and the inability to deliver on its promise of real connection tarnished its appeal.
The Metaverse struggled to gain and keep traction. Technological advancements (AI, anyone?) dissolved their efforts, and Apple's gentle transition into the digital realm allows us to keep enhancing our experiences without detaching from the tangible world.
And it's a comfortable shift. Humans like comfortable.
Our emerging adults have shifting preferences. The growing recognition of the damaging effects of excessive digital immersion pushes us to return to the world. To create meaningful connections, we must prioritize authenticity and the overall well-being of everyone while we collaborate to build a virtual future we all approve of.
As education marketers, we learn valuable lessons about our innate need for balance. Companies must give thought to the integration of technology into our daily lives.