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Watch out Fortnite and Roblox: Facebook is building a metaverse all of its own – Music Business Worldwide

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MBW’s Stat Of The Week is a series in which we highlight a single data point that deserves the attention of the global music industry. Stat Of the Week is supported by Cinq Music Group, a technology-driven record label, distribution, and rights management company.
Silicon Valley has long been obsessed with virtual worlds.
Over the past 18 months however, with the pandemic forcing global society into a phase of unprecedented remote work, communication and recreation, tech firms competing for audiences have been battling fiercely for ownership of the notion of a so-called ‘metaverse’.
The person who coined the term, Snow Crash author Neal Stephenson, may have only just been “making s**t up” when he wrote the metaverse concept into his influential 1992 science fiction novel, but in the current social media age, virtual reality has become big business, and increasingly so in music.
In fact, we’d be hard-pressed to find a month since the start of 2020 where a headline grabbing virtual reality-related news story didn’t make it on to MBW’s own digital pages.
Two of the biggest players in this space in 2021 are video game companies Epic Games, maker of Fortnite and Roblox Corporation, maker of kids gaming phenomenon, Roblox.
Back in March, having just closed a $520m Series H investment round that included Warner Music Group, Roblox went public on the New York Stock Exchange hitting a $45 billion company valuation.
In April, Epic revealed a $1 Billion funding round to support what it called its “Long-Term Vision for the Metaverse”, $200 million of which was contributed by Sony Group Corporation, parent of Sony Music Group. Sony had already pumped $250 million into Epic Games in July 2020.
Both Fortnite and Roblox attract vast audiences – with 350 million registered players as of May 2020 for Fornite and 43 million Daily Active Users as of May 2021 for Roblox – who can play games, watch concerts and communicate with other players virtually in each company’s own version of the ‘metaverse’.
As Snow Crash’s Stephenson told Vanity Fair back in 2017 however, “there’s only one Metaverse”, and new players brimming with investment are regularly entering the fold to stake their claim as the definitive developer of this virtual world.
In no particular order, these players include the likes of the Sensorium Galaxy, the-yet-to be publicly launched $100 million-backed social metaspace founded in 2018 by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, the Atari Metaverse, the new $7.5 million-backed ‘social metaverse’  Stageverse, and the Warner Music Group-backed Wave.
Now, Facebook, which generated revenues of over $85 billion in 2020 – and already owner of VR game Horizon Worlds, and owner one of the world’s most popular VR tech brands, Oculus – has also thrown its hat into the ring.
Facebook revealed over the weekend that it plans to hire for a vast and “high-skilled” workforce within the European Union (EU) over the next five years to build its own version of the metaverse.
Today’s news follows FB’s announcement last month that it plans on pumping $50 million into this project, which it anticipates will take 10-15 years to be realized.
In a blog post published on Sunday (October 17), by Javier Olivan, VP Central Products, and Nick Clegg, a former Deputy Prime Minister of the UK and Facebook’s current VP Global Affairs, the tech giant claims to be at “the start of a journey to help build the next computing platform”.
Facebook defines ‘metaverse’ as a “new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality”, and the company wants you to use this VR world to “hang out with friends, work, play, learn, shop, create and more”. Kind of like the internet, but in virtual reality.
“At its heart is the idea that by creating a greater sense of ‘virtual presence, interacting online can become much closer to the experience of interacting in person,” write Clegg and Olivan.
“Hopefully in the future, asking if a company is building a metaverse will sound as ridiculous as asking a company how their internet is going. So I think just in terms of giving a sense of sort of where this should go.”
Mark Zuckerberg, speaking to the Verge in July
Speaking to theVerge back in July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that goal is for Facebook to transition from a social media company to a ‘metaverse company.
He further explained the scope of the ambitions for the project: “I don’t think in the future, people are going to call the work that individual companies do a metaverse, he said.
“Hopefully, if we’re successful collectively in building a system that’s more interoperable, and where you can teleport between things, it should all be the metaverse, each company should not have its own metaverse.
He added: “Hopefully in the future, asking if a company is building a metaverse will sound as ridiculous as asking a company how their internet is going. So I think just in terms of giving a sense of sort of where this should go.”
Facebook reiterated in its latest announcement that “no one company will own and operate the metaverse” and insists that “like the internet, its key feature will be its openness and interoperability”.
In order to bring its metaverse vision to life, Facebook plans to collaborate “across companies, developers, creators and policymakers”. Some of those partners include the Organization of American States,  Africa No FilterElectric South, Imisi3D and the Women In Immersive Tech.
 “As we begin the journey of bringing the metaverse to life, the need for highly specialized engineers is one of Facebook’s most pressing priorities.”
Nick Clegg and Javier Olivan, Facebook
Added Clegg and Olivan: “As we begin the journey of bringing the metaverse to life, the need for highly specialized engineers is one of Facebook’s most pressing priorities.
“We look forward to working with governments across the EU to find the right people and the right markets to take this forward, as part of an upcoming recruitment drive across the region.
“And as Facebook continues to grow in Europe, we hope to invest more in its talent and continue to innovate in Europe, for Europe and the world.”
Facebook’s ambitious plan has attracted criticism from various quarters, with political observers calling it a “distraction” from various problems at the company, including calls for the US government to regulate FB following recent whistleblower allegations. The Washington Post calls Facebook’s metaverse plan a “political strategy in Washington”.
Meanwhile, the firm’s plan to create the definitive metaverse has also been met with raised eyebrows from VR and AR industry.
The likes of Roblox and Epic Games, who have arguably already developed vast virtual worlds where people can “hang out with friends, work, play, learn, shop, create and more”, will likely be watching Facebook’s progress closely.

Cinq Music Group’s repertoire has won Grammy awards, dozens of Gold and Platinum RIAA certifications, and numerous No.1 chart positions on a variety of Billboard charts. Its repertoire includes heavyweights such as Bad Bunny, Janet Jackson, Daddy Yankee, T.I., Sean Kingston, Anuel, and hundreds more.Music Business Worldwide
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Utherverse CEO Brian Shuster Granted Seven New Patents for … – Business Wire

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Internet pioneer now boasts more than 100 tech and internet-enabling patents
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Brian Shuster, founder and CEO of Utherverse, one of the largest metaverse platforms in the world, has been granted seven new patents for technologies designed to enhance the metaverse experience. The new technologies will begin to be deployed in the metaverse’s next generation platform, due to launch by mid-2023.

The new patents add to Utherverse’s already formidable mountain of intellectual property, addressing a variety of problems and vulnerabilities within metaverse platforms, ranging from the physics of movement and immersive displays to physical interaction between users and animation control.
“For more than two decades we have been working to enhance users’ experiences on the internet,” said Shuster. “These new patents span the three key metaverse pillars of software, hardware and remote touch; solve some inherent and significant problems with the operation of metaverse platforms; and greatly improve the ability of users to exist and thrive in hyper-realistic virtual worlds. They will provide developers with the capability to continually innovate.”
Shuster is now an inventor of more than 100 patents for internet enabling technologies. The abstracts of the seven new patents read in part:
Utherverse is a metaverse platform that enables developers to build interconnected virtual worlds, provides hyper-realistic immersive experiences for consumers and opportunities for companies to market and monetize their products and services. Utherverse generates revenue from custom metaverse building services, sales of NFTs and a variety of business verticals including advertising/marketing, shopping/retail, conferences/conventions, education, dating, lifestyle, entertainment events/performances, VIP experiences and virtual offices. The Utherverse platform was launched in 2005 by internet visionary Brian Shuster. A beta version of the next generation Utherverse platform is expected to launch by mid-2023. To date, the platform has served 50 million+ users with 32 billion+ virtual commerce transactions. Utherverse has developed the technology and received more than 40 patents critical toward operating large-scale metaverses. The company is based in British Columbia, Canada. More information can be found online at Utherverse.io; Twitter/Instagram: @Utherverse; Facebook: /UtherverseDigital; LinkedIn: /utherverse-digital-inc/; Telegram: /UtherverseAnnouncements; Discord: /Utherverse.io.
Steve Honig
The Honig Company, LLC
818-986-4300
press@honigllc.com
Steve Honig
The Honig Company, LLC
818-986-4300
press@honigllc.com

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Meta is desperately trying to make the metaverse happen – MIT Technology Review

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Will web access and avatar legs be enough?
The star of Tuesday’s Meta Connect, the so-called “state of the union” for the company formerly known as Facebook, was Meta Quest Pro. Meta’s newest virtual-reality headset clocks in at a whopping $1,499.99. That’s a significant price jump from its previous iteration, Meta Quest 2, which could be yours for $399.99—not exactly cheap, but still in triple-digit territory.
That price hike, coupled with Meta’s insistence throughout the virtual event that the company envisioned the metaverse as a “next-generation social platform” accessible to everyone, sort of feels like a blatant contradiction. Even if you are among the lucky few who can shell out a grand and a half for a virtual-reality headset, would you really want to?
That’s the question Meta seems to be grappling with. While the headset price jumped, nearly all the company’s other big moves are aimed at a common and simple baseline: making the metaverse something people actually want to use. 
Meta’s metaverse hasn’t exactly had a smooth year. Less than a year ago, founder Mark Zuckerberg rebranded what was then Facebook in an effort to show that the company was pivoting to what he believed was the future of our digital lives. Since then, Meta has been saddled with hiccups and gaffes, including a much-ballyhooed avatar of Zuckerberg that got memed to oblivion, a report suggesting that the company’s employees were less than enthused about the metaverse, and allegations of virtual sexual assault.
A woman was sexually harassed on Meta’s VR social media platform. She’s not the first—and won’t be the last.
So its current strategy seems to be to release a string of updates to see what might get people interested—a “throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks” approach, if you will. 
Besides the Meta Quest Pro, the company also announced at the event that it was going to open up Horizon Worlds, the social media platform within Meta’s metaverse, to mobile and desktop users, so people without a headset will be able to access the virtual world.
That’s a notable step: it’s a tacit admission that VR headsets aren’t taking off as quickly as the company would like. Without a critical mass of people who understand what the metaverse feels like or even is, Meta can’t hope to have its products adopted. Opening its virtual worlds to the formats consumers are comfortable with (their text messages, their browsers, the company’s beleaguered Instagram platform) gives people who aren’t open to shelling out $399.99—much less $1,499.99—a way to experience the new world.
What’s also made the metaverse a hard sell is the disorienting experience of being a floating, legless torso, and Meta announced that it won’t be that way anymore. Previously, Andrew Bosworth, Meta’s CTO, said in an Instagram AMA that full-body avatars were difficult to implement, particularly because VR tracking usually comes from someone’s real-life eyes and hands. “Tracking your own legs accurately is super hard and basically not workable just from a physics standpoint with existing headsets,” he said in February.
But Zuckerberg (or, rather, his leggy avatar) announced at the event that the company was going to use artificial intelligence to map out legs in the metaverse, allowing avatars the ability not only to walk and run but also to wear digital clothing for their legs (a marketplace that Zuckerberg has said he is eager to participate in; Roblox, a gaming platform I’ve written about before, currently has a comfortable share of the market). This would be a huge step to improving how users think about movement in the metaverse and how they decide to represent themselves there.
But even with legs, and even with the ability to roam the metaverse without a headset strapped to your face, the key question remains: Is Meta’s metaverse something people will actually buy into? It’s worth noting that even employees at Meta are skeptical about the company’s vision, with one going so far as to say the amount spent on these projects to date made him “sick to [his] stomach.”
A free, shareable version of the metaverse accessible via weblink will open the previously closed world up to people who may not have hundreds of dollars to burn, and it’s a huge move toward democratizing the space. It might lead people to buy Meta’s claim that talking to a cartoon version of your boss is totally cool—and, more broadly, that the metaverse really is the next digital plane on which we’ll conduct our lives. 
But it might also do the opposite: people might hop on the link and find that even in its now full-bodied state, the metaverse, er, doesn’t have legs.
An avatar of the singer, who died in 1997, performed with live rappers on Meta’s Horizon Worlds.
In his own words, the Chinese painter shares how he became a one-person newsroom during a week of intense protests against China's zero-covid policy.
Reflecting on my desire for Chinese-style e-commerce platforms.
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OREO Launches Its Own VR Metaverse Experience – VRScout

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The OREOVERSE is available now via Horzion Worlds.
This week OREO unveiled a new limited-edition flavor, the Most OREO OREO, which features real OREO grind mixed in the creme. In celebration of the new product, the company has created its own metaverse experience accessible on Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro headsets.
According to the company, the OREOVERSE features a variety of “cookie-themed” games that have you building delicious treats in VR for a chance at $50,000. As part of the campaign, TV personality Martha Stewart and her gardener Ryan McCallister will stream themselves exploring the OREOVERSE next week on the OREO brand’s social channels.
“We’re so excited to enter the metaverse! OREO is the cookie that begs to be played with and we love to create new opportunities for our fans to connect with each other and share that playful spirit,” said Julia Rosenbloom, Senior Brand Manager, OREO, in an official release. “The Most OREO OREO cookie gives fans a whole new way to playfully engage with us. By scanning the pack, they will ‘dunk into’ the new OREOVERSE world.”
“I am excited to make my metaverse debut in partnership with one of my favorite cookie brands, OREO, and having Ryan there with me will make it all the more fun,” added Martha Stewart. “The two of us have had our fair share of adventures over the last 10 years and have been able to navigate just about anything together, especially in the garden!”
The OREOVERSE is accessible now on Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro headsets via Horizon Worlds, Meta’s own social VR metaverse. Marth Stewart’s OREOVERSE excursion will begin on Monday, January 30th at 10:00 am ET on Facebook and Instagram. For more information visit here.
Image Credit: OREO
Kyle is a writer for VRScout also working in new media production. He’s also a part-time bounty hunter.
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