The metaverse backlash has begun. Metaverse hype probably hit its apogee in early 2022. That was when Meta (nee Facebook) ran a Super Bowl ad featuring a stuffed animal dog being cast aside and then reborn in the metaverse.
Curiously, Google’s Ngram Viewer, which charts the frequency of search terms, notes the popularity of the term “metaverse” peaking in 2010 and then dropping off since then.
In mid-March, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced it was laying off 13% of its workforce.
And some have questioned Facebook’s bold move into the metaverse.
“I think many big tech companies get so full of themselves that take their eye off the ball (the customers) and think whatever they do is going to be the next big thing,” says Drew Kerr, brand communications consultant at Four Corners Communications.
“Perhaps these are premature notions on the part of these companies, but it costs them in the billions of dollars and fired employees. It was a very sobering moment last year when Mark Zuckerberg admitted that the company was getting ‘past its skis’ with the metaverse and went totally in reverse.”
At the time, mid-2022, the metaverse backlash was taking shape. As Marc Petit, Epic Games’ vice president and general manager of Unreal Engine, told Yahoo Finance, “People have kind of lost interest in the metaverse, because characters look like cartoons with no legs,” he said. “I mean, who wants to be that? This is not attractive.”
Kerr compares Meta’s plight to that of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, which enjoyed sales and valuations based on such hype and now, “you're lucky to find one plant-based item on a restaurant menu."