Metaverse will not happen overnight, Forrester finds


People wearing face masks walk by an advertisement for Pico’s VR Headsets at a subway station on October 19, 2022 in Beijing, China. | Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Just weeks after Mark Zuckerberg finally figured out how to put legs on metaverse avatars, potential users are using their real feet to walk away from an expanded, immersive version of the internet to spend more time doing things in the real world as the global coronavirus pandemic ebbs.

As an initial wave of excitement over metaverse projects dies down, researcher Forrester predicts measured innovation based on existing technologies and products will replace announcements promising a fast track to the metaverse.

Meta’s baby steps with its Horizon World is a far cry from the prospect that one day people will be able to do anything from biking tournaments to surgical practice in a life-like virtual reality. However, even with the option of a virtual world with legs, 65% of online adults in the United States prefer to have social experiences in person, Forrester found. After Meta reported abysmal earnings last week, metaverse sentiment seems to be at an all-time low.

As the excitement dies down, Forrester predicts that immersive experiences on existing platforms will slowly pick up. In this way, developers will begin to step, rather than freefall, toward realizing their vision of the metaverse.

The company’s report cited MicrosoftMSFT integrating its brand of virtual reality products called Mesh directly into Teams, its business-messaging platform, as an example of how everyday consumers will begin to experience the metaverse. The researchers predict that in 2023 at least three more collaboration-technology providers, like Zoom or Slack, will introduce metaverse-style features. While millions of people will notice these additions popping up on their work applications, only 5% will become active users, Forrester believes.

One barrier to entry may be the price tags attached to virtual-reality headsets, a necessity for anyone looking to join a fully immersive metaverse. A Microsoft HoloLens 2 model retails for $3,500. For the less tech-savvy, the company’s HP Reverb G2 VR headset is available for $599. The MetaQuest Pro headset retails for $1,499.

A casualty of failing metaverse excitement could be non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which have achieved a high profile thanks to seeing brands and celebrities launching countless collections. Forrester found that 72% of online adults in the United States have never owned an NFT and do not plan to change that.

In a blockchain-based version of the metaverse, NFTs allow for ownership of digital assets that would allow people to own things like virtual real estate. Celebrities have hopped on the trend, one notable example being Snoop Dogg building a Snoopverse in The Sandbox, a virtual world. The branded universe is made up of 22 virtual land plots, 67 premium plots, and three estates where owners can build. One superfan paid $450,000 to purchase a land plot next to Snoop in the online neighborhood. The Forrester report predicts NFT projects will shift from celebrity projects to NFTs linked to customer loyalty. Starbucks using NFTs to offer customers exclusive perks, for example.