I’m constantly on the look out for stories for the RyanSchultz.com blog, bookmarking anything and everything that I or my readers might find of interest—news and announcements about social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse (including the blockchain-based platforms).
At the moment, I’m so backlogged with my bookmarks, that today I’ve just decided to share many of them with you, in an effort to get caught up! Each would likely be the seed for a proper blogpost all on its own, but here each one will just get a sentence or two, a brief annotation only. Hope you don’t mind!
XR Today: Sensorium, Humanity 2.0 Launch Vatican City Art Metaverse (Ultra high-end social VR platform Sensoirum Galaxy partners with the Humanity 2.0 Foundation to build a virtual gallery for Vatican City). “The company’s Sensorium Galaxy platform is currently in beta testing, with a launch date set for later in the year to expand its availability across devices, including VR headsets, PCs, and mobile devices.”
Now that I’ve shared some of my most interesting finds with you, I hope that this list will tide you over until I can whip up some fresh new content for you! Expect more blogposts soon. (If people find these news roundups useful, I might continue to write them, as well as my regular blogposts.)
Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? You’re invited to be a part of the first ever cross-worlds discussion group, with over 600 people participating from every social VR platform and virtual world! We discuss, debate and argue about the ever-evolving metaverse and all the companies building it. You’re welcome to come join us! More details here.
There will be a major scandal or controversy around one of the blockchain/NFT-oriented Metaverse platforms.
With NFTs beset by scams and NFT/blockchain-oriented metaverse platforms seeing low user numbers but extremely high investment and speculation, this is only a matter of time.
It’s only January 12th, 2022, but I have already written about a number of questionable NFT projects which at best are crazy schemes, and at worst are outright scams! MetaWorld springs to mind as the perfect example of the latter (ALLEGEDLY, I hasten to add, although IN MY OPINION, I don’t believe there is any actual MetaWorld platform, aside from a prototype which was created years ago by someone who has since left the company to work for Somnium Space).
Despite all the negative press from the Engadget exposé and my series of blogposts about MetaWorld, Dedric continues undeterred. Someone joked to me via Discord DMs that Dedric Reid is the Elizabeth Holmes of the metaverse, and I laughed out loud because it’s such an apt, concise description! Harsh, savage, but accurate.
But on to other topics; I am tired of talking about Dedric Reid and MetaWorld (and frankly, whoever falls for his ALLEGED scam at this point is simply not doing their proper due diligence, IN MY OPINION). There’s a lot of actual progress being made by many legitimate metaverse companies building social VR/AR platforms and virtual worlds!
Meta is facing such a never-ending litany of complaints, scandals, and even legal actions that this is, once again, a very easy prediction to make for 2022.
Next prediction: there’s going to be a lot of activity this year in the fuzzy overlap area between games and virtual worlds, what I like to call the “metaverse-adjacent” space. Both games (e.g. Fortnite, Minecraft) and game platforms (e.g. Roblox, Core) will continue to add new features in an effort to become more like social VR/AR apps and virtual worlds. And, given their immense popularity, especially among children, tweens, and teens, many people will get their first taste of the metaverse via these games and game platforms, in much the same way as an entire generation got their start in the metaverse via Second Life.
Second Life will continue to be successful and profitable—but it will face increasing competition from newer platforms such as VRChat, and it will no longer be the most popular virtual world.
My first prediction is a no-brainer. In my predictions for 2019, I wrote that Second Life would “continue to coast along, baffling the mainstream news media and the general public with its vitality and longevity”, and that still holds true.
And, indeed, 2021 was the first year in which VRChat began to consistently surpass Second Life in user concurrency figures (Rec Room did too, I believe). VRChat has been breaking new user concurrency records, leading up to and including New Year’s Eve 2021, as Johnny Rodriguez tweeted:
Last night, 88,700 people put on a VR headset and decided to join the VRChat New Years event to countdown [to] the new year. For reference, this is Husker’s Memorial Stadium [at the University of Nebraska], which fits around 86,000 people when completely full. VR is here to stay.
Turning back to Second Life, the coronavirus pandemic caused a temporary surge in usage (and the current Omicron wave might well prompt people to dust off their avatars and give it another try, too). I still estimate that SL has somewhere between 500,000 and 900,000 active users per month (that is, people who sign in at least once in the past thirty days). I really wish that Linden Lab would regularly release statistics like this, but if they are declining (slowly or quickly), I can also understand why the company would be reluctant to do so.
I was part of Sansar since I was invited into the closed beta in 2016/2017, and I was there for the whole crazy ride. Sansar is now on life support (the company that bought it from Linden Lab, called Wookey, furloughed all of its staff recently, and I believe that they could shut down at any moment without warning). Being there from beginning to end, I still marvel at how Linden Lab thought they could build a new virtual world/social VR platform and just put it out there, and expect it to sell itself in this competitive marketplace for metaverse platforms. “Build it and they will come” might have worked for SL in 2003 but it sure ain’t gonna work nowadays. You have to PROMOTE yourself to get noticed.
Also, Linden Lab could have done a lot of things to try and entice SL users to a) visit Sansar and b) make them want to stay, build worlds, create content, and form a new community. Instead, what happened is that Second Life folks (rightly or wrongly) saw Sansar as something which distracted LL from its work on SL, and as a result most SL folks hated Sansar and refused to have anything to do with it, hastening its downfall in my opinion. It also didn’t help that Linden Lab made a bet that many people would be owning high-end VR headsets tethered to high-end PCs with good graphics cards, and instead the Oculus Quest wireless headset took off.
I still shake my head and wonder “what if?”. Say a prayer for Sansar, it needs it.
Right now, Sansar’s best hope for survival in 2022 is for another company who wants to enter the metaverse marketplace to buy the platform from Wookey, much the same as Microsoft stepped in at the eleventh hour to snap up AltspaceVR.
Another prediction: we are going to see an increase in the number of companies providing services to metaverse platforms. Wagner James Au mentions the Linden Lab subsidiary Tilia, which provides financial services, in his blogpost which I linked to up top; I predict that they will land a few more clients this year. Another example of a company doing well in this niche is Ready Player Me, the avatar system currently in use in VRChat and over 1,000 other apps and games on VR, mobile, desktop, and web. Expect this nascent business-to-business sector to explode this year!
Well, that’s it for me, for now. I might update this blogpost with other predictions for 2022 as they come to me.
And I ask you, my faithful readers: what predictions are you making for the next twelve months? Feel free to leave a comment, or use the feedback form on my blog if you’d prefer to contact me directly. You’re also welcome to join the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, a cross-worlds community where over 600 people, with experience in various metaverse platforms, welcome you! Just click the button on the left-side panel of my blog as shown (image right). If you are connecting via a smartphone or tablet instead of your computer desktop, just click the three-bars menu button in the upper-right hand corner, then scroll down until you see the Discord widget displayed.
In the wake of Facebook’s new positioning as a Metaverse company, execs at a multitude of tech and media outfits have put it front and center of their strategy, or are at least saying they have a Metaverse strategy. Leading the pack are game engine companies like my employer Unity and graphics chip powerhouses such as NVIDIA. These companies are laying the groundwork by delivering miraculous real-time 3D tech on a regular basis, and they are built on solid business models delivering significant commercial value. They will indeed be foundational for the Metaverse. But these days you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an ad agency or tech startup that has the word Metaverse in a strategy deck, too. Sensing a Next Big Thing, people don’t want to have to play catch-up like they did with the Internet or mobile. Mind you, the term Metaverse isn’t new, nor is the vision, despite various attempts at rewriting history. But now that His Eminence has given voice to it, the Metaverse exists by fiat. So let it be written; so let it be done. And everyone is pouring in.
At a time when the word “metaverse” is being flung around everywhere by everybody (including by quite a few johnny-come-latelies who really have no idea what they are talking about), it’s important to listen to people who who were around before this sudden hype cycle. Among those people is venture capitalist Matthew Ball, whose well-known article The Metaverse: What It Is, Where to Find it, Who Will Build It, and Fortnite, provides some thoughtful insight and perspective on the topic.
Sine Wave Entertainment is honored to welcome Metaverse visionary Matthew Ball for a virtual fireside chat within Breakroom, our metaverse platform for real-life events. Author of the influential “Metaverse Primer“, lead creator of the Ball Metaverse Index, his insights and investments have shaped the business world’s understanding of what he calls a “successor state to the mobile internet”.
Join us for a wide-ranging conversation with Matthew, co-hosted by two leading journalists of the Metaverse era [Gene Park of the Washington Post and Wagner James Au of New World Notes].
Topics to be discussed include:
• What are the key Metaverse trends to watch for in the next 5-10 years? • Will it wind up being dominated by the Internet giants? • Is there more to the Metaverse beyond entertainment? • Where do blockchain and VR fit into the technology’s future?• How will the Metaverse remake culture and business?
You can register for the event here, through EventBrite (it’s free). It takes place on Thursday, October 21se, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time/GMT or noon Pacific Standard Time/PST. When you register, you will receive an email message with a special link you have to click on to load the web-based Breakroom app in your web browser.
It promises to be a fascinating discussion, and one you won’t want to miss!
This blogpost is sponsored by Sinespace, and was written in my role as an embedded reporter for this virtual world (more details here).
To my surprise, there’s very little in the way of blogging about VRChat; my Google searches consistently pulled up only two blogs which discuss VRChat regularly, my own blog, and Wagner James Au’s venerable blog New World Notes, which has branched out from its original coverage of Second Life to write about other virtual worlds (here’s a link to all of my VRChat posts, and a link to all of Wagner’s).
As for Discords, there are any number of popular Discord communities:
As I have written about before, it can be difficult to find good directories of VRChat maps (i.e. worlds) to explore (other than the Worlds listing in the VRChat client itself).
There is a Japanese-language website called The World of VRChat, a website directory for VRChat worlds (if you turn on Google auto-translate in your Chrome web browser, it works well enough). I don’t know how up-to-date it is kept, however, and I have been unable to find any other website directories like this one.
Also, VRChat user CatRazor has created a very useful Discord server called VRChat Maps, where users can post their favourite maps to various channels. Check it out!
If you know of any other VRChat map/world directories which exist outside the VRChat client, please drop a comment, thank you!
Here’s a couple of examples of YouTube videos from iListen and iamLucid, to give you an idea of the content you can expect in these interview videos:
Other VRChat videos tend to be edited or unedited recordings of shenanigans happening on the social VR platform. Your mileage may vary; some of funnier or others, but overall it comes down to your personal sense of humour. Here’s the results of a keyword search for “VRChat” on YouTube; dive in! If you’re looking for the most popular VRChat videos, start here (but be warned; some of these are not for the faint of heart!).
Do you know of any resources which should be listed here? If you know of a Discord server, a YouTube channel, or a Twitch channel, or some other social media that should be included in this blogpost? Then please feel free to leave a comment, thanks!