What the creator of Second Life thinks of the Metaverse hype

Image: high fidelity

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Second Life creator Philip Rosedale wishes Meta well on his Metaverse mission and generally sees little chance of success.

In fact, you’d think Philipp Rosedale’s heart would happily break high jump records and start with a big “I told you so!” After all, he already proclaimed in 2007 that the high flight of Second Life was about to come down, the 3D web with a future metaverse.

“The 3D web is going to take off fast and everyone will have an avatar,” Rosedale said at the time. It could also be a recent quote from Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg. At the time, things turned out differently than Rosedale had expected. And today?

Rosedale is now a Metaverse Defiant

In interviews, Rosedale comments on the current Metaverse hype – and basically sees no chance of success. “People don’t want to walk around all day with VR glasses as a cartoon avatar,” Rosedale says.

It was “extraordinarily difficult to convince normal people at work” of this idea, especially because of the avatars’ lack of facial expressions. “It’s very stressful for people to do that, and most of them don’t want to,” Rosedale says.

He suspects that Metaverse’s audience is mostly made up of people who have fewer opportunities to live or socialize in real life.

“If you live comfortably in New York and you’re young and healthy, you’ll probably choose to live there. When I offer you the life of an avatar, you rarely use it,” Rosedale explains. “On the other hand, if you live in the countryside with few social contacts, if you have a disability or if you live in an authoritarian environment where you cannot express yourself freely, then your avatar can become your main identity.”

Avatars stand in a circle in a digital world and talk to each other.

Philip Rosedale wanted to found the Metaverse with Second Life and High Fidelity – and failed. Now he wishes Meta good luck in the next try and makes 3D audio himself for online meetings. | Image: high fidelity

Rosedale attributes the current high interest in the idea to the corona pandemic and the fact that life has moved more online as a result, as well as Meta’s attempt to reinvent itself.

Commenting on Meta’s chances of a potential breakthrough with the Metaverse project, Rosedale says, “I hope they don’t.” It is still unclear why people should visit the Metaverse and spend a lot of time there. He had already misjudged this aspect with Second Life.


Rosedale’s second attempt at the Metaverse also failed

Nevertheless, Rosedale leaves current Metaverse enthusiasts with a small glimmer of hope: at some point, the Metaverse is probably possible, but the road is long with considerable challenges, especially with comfortable communication technology.

“I think what we have learned [mit Second Life] – and with a certain sadness, given the work that I have done, I agree – it is that it [das Metaverse] is not for everyone and may never be for everyone,” says Rosedale.

You should know that Second Life was not Rosedale’s only attempt on the Metaverse: with its start-up High Fidelity, Rosedale attempted a return to Metaverse with VR glasses a few years ago.

“One day we’ll be going to school in virtual reality, attending events, just having a good time together, or building new worlds together,” Rosedale said in mid-2018 after a successful funding round.

A few months later, High Fidelity was finished. Instead of several million users, Rosedale was only able to gain a few tens of thousands for its Metaverse vision.

For Rosedale, the VR glasses as such were the cause of this failure, he left no doubt about it: the “mouse coffin in front of the face” would survive at best in the niche of the game or for applications of business. Sales figures for the devices were well below expectations.

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