Quote of the Day – This is Not Why VR has Stalled

That being said, it is worth pointing out that the world of VR currently lacks several elements of the metaverse that experts believe are key to the growth of this nascent market. For example, most VR-centric games today come without a blockchain framework; feature a poorly designed economic setup; lack tangible incentives; or have shoddy gameplay mechanics. As a result, they have small, limited user bases, a problem that has been compounded by problems of poor graphics, lack of upgradability, and low scalability.

-Adam Bem, Why the lack of metaverse integration in today’s VR ecosystem needs to be addressed

Every once in a while I think that maybe VentureBeat has decided that it doesn’t serve the best long term interests of their brand to basically run paid advertisements for Web3, blockchain, crypto, NFT scams.

Not really about Blaugust, but why not throw in a reminder about it all the same?

I mean, after their Metaverse 2 conference earlier this year, it seemed like the hosts, in summing up, ended up somewhat skeptical of the whole crypto angle while speakers like Raph Koster brought a sense of reality to a topic that tends to live somewhere between wishful thinking and full on pipe dreams.

But that is just me forgetting that VentureBeat isn’t really interested in journalism as much as cashing in on trends and making a quick buck today without a thought for tomorrow.  They have consistently and repeatedly treated all of the crypto garbage with unquestioning seriousness, never asking anybody ever a difficult question.  That isn’t any sort journalism, that is just paid advertising.

Anyway, that leads us to the quote at the top of this post, which is truly a gem.

I would certainly agree that VR has not taken off as some… like VentureBeat… thought it would more than half a decade back.  There are lots of problems, including price, expense to develop games, motion sickness, and the whole need to strap a monitor to your face that blots out the real world.

We heard just last week that Meta’s Reality Labs division, which includes Oculus and their whole metaverse plan, is losing around a billion dollars a month for the company.  It is a testament to how much Meta milks out of Facebook and Instagram targeted advertising that they can afford to lose about as much cash on Zuckerberg’s Facebook Horizon VR wet dream every month as World of Warcraft was bringing in annually during its peak.

That isn’t even enough money to get John Carmack to buy into Meta’s legless metaverse vision.

And into this mix comes Adam Bem, COO and co-founder of Victoria VR, who tells us that the reason that VR metaverse isn’t taking off is because it lacks parasitic, rent-seeking crypto integration.

Because, when you get down to it, that is the essence of blockchain and crypto.  Even if you could get past all the scams, theft, and other shady behavior, even if you could see blockchain working as intended on its best day ever, you would see its real goal is just to be a tax on digital transactions, adding no value whatsoever.

There is absolutely nothing that proponents of blockchain and crypto claim for the technology that can’t already be done better, faster, cheaper, more securely, and with less environmental destruction.  100% true.

As such, it would probably not surprise you to learn that Victoria VR, Adam Bem’s company, is putting itself forward as a developer who is going to create a blockchain, pay to earn, VR based metaverse.

You know, the thing that John Carmack is skeptical of even with a billion dollar a month burn rate.  Oh, wait, Carmack left out the blockchain!  No wonder he hasn’t succeeded!

You should take a minute to go look at the Victora VR web site, because it is the most anodyne, check all the possible boxes, no concrete details provided piece of work I have seen in a while.  The whitepaper they have available on their site is entirely about monetization, because that is the most important aspect of video game design.  Even when they superficially dip their toes into things like quests for a page and a half, it is simply about how that will introduce players to more ways to spend money.

It is monetization all the way down.

I have to imagine that this what making an MMO looks like to people who have never made an MMO.  Or a video game of any kind.  It is all generic, hand waving, high level terms and no proof that their team has the technical ability to bring anything like what they are promising into reality, virtual or otherwise.

As somebody who has followed online gaming since the 80s, and 3D virtual worlds since the late 90s… likely before Adam Bem was even born… you get a sense of who has the ability to pull something like this off and who is just blowing smoke… and Victoria VR clearly cannot pull off anything of the sort.

6 thoughts on “Quote of the Day – This is Not Why VR has Stalled

  1. kelly64

    A good assessment, at least based on my perception of what this ‘metaverse’ stuff seems to be all about.

    The thing that always worries me is that I’ve observed a few instances of people with monetization as their only motivator becoming distressingly successful. Blockchain or “immutable sequential ledgers” have value conceptually, but it is just a tool- not a complete solution of any kind. I work in technology and and I see how the ‘sizzle’ often, more often than not it seems, becomes more important than the actual ‘steak’.

    I have some hope that Meta and companies like them will burn and sink on their metaverse monetization schemes. But I look at how heavily monetized gaming is e.g.: Diablo Immortal and its ilk, and how ‘successful’ such gaming is from a purely capitalist perspective, and I despair.

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  2. Bhagpuss

    I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance of any crypto gang making a game that anyone who actually likes games is ever goign to care about, so on that basis you might think it would be safe to just leave them to get on with it, like those dwarves in the cave at the end of The Last Battle. What does concern me is the possibility that the more canny among them may work out that it would be easier and more lucrative to hijack someone else’s genuinely playable game and crap it up with crypto and/or NFTs. There seem to be some dangerously naive (And greedy) people altogether too near the top of the gaming food-chain for comfort and we all know how ludicrously competitive and unimaginitave those types can be. I know the Domino Effect got a bad rep in the late ’70s but it’s still out there…

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  3. AK

    I don’t know why all these tech and crypto guys keep insisting that blockchain integration and all this crypto and NFT bullshit is what people really want. I don’t know a single actual person who cares about any of that. All these guys seem to speak a language that only they understand about trading illusory “assets” that only they care about. Not sure how any of it relates to game design or the actual enjoyment of the product they’re creating. I get absolutely zero pleasure out of seeing or hearing about NFTs — in fact negative pleasure if disgust counts against it.

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  4. Angry Onions

    VR and blockhain/NFTs share a common trait: they’re a solution for no problem anyone ever had.

    Back in the time, VR was to bring realism and immersion to virtual shared worlds. But then MMOs happened and 3D cards happened and social networks happened and VR ended up, in its second incarnation, with worse graphics and a population of people experienced/tired of all the pretend socialization tools turned to a hunting ground for publicity/propaganda, were the prey it’s you and the hunters are perfect capitalists and behave as if psychopathy was going out of fashion.

    Nobody needs nor wants to be data mined and sold by the cohort through a VR environment riddled with issues.

    And not forgetting my favourite pet peeve with VR in its current form: it’s incompatible with any but the mildest forms of eyesight issues.

    Only a bunch of arrogant delusional 20-somethings could develop a technology phisically incompatible with being of middle age and suffering far-sightedness…

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Indeed, one expects high level execs to jump on dumb stuff because analysts are suddenly into it… and clowns like Lord British. It is the serious devs who should know better. It is one of those things where even a neutral stance, the suggestion that the jury is out and that this might be more than rent-seeking is always the disturbing bit for me.

    @Angry Onions – I always forget about the vision issue, there being enough other problems to fill out a quick list of bullet points. Yeah, it isn’t like middle-aged people have more disposable income or anything.

    @PCRedbeard – Oh you can find them on Twitter telling people that there was no crash, that the price adjustment if the perfect opportunity to jump in while prices are low, because the prices will soar again soon enough. And they’ll foment enough greed to make the prices come back some… so they can cash out.

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