The metaverse has been receiving a bit of a bad rap over the last couple of years, largely because of 'that' Meta announcement which we are still waiting to come to fruition, and then headlines like Disney eliminating its metaverse division. Even as we type this the word, metaverse still gets flagged by spell check. Is there no belief in the virtual world people have been working so hard to create?
Herman Narula, CEO of metaverse tech company Improbable, certainly was amused by all these rumblings when we caught up with him before his appearance for a fireside chat at next week's (24 May) Tech.eu Summit. And of course, he quoted Tim Sweeney's tweet to us, deservedly so.
The metaverse is dead! Let's organize an online wake so that we 600,000,000 monthly active users in Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, PUBG Mobile, Sandbox, and VRChat can mourn its passing together in real-time 3D.https://t.co/tRpFHsdZLw
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) May 9, 2023
'It reminds me of the whole 'the internet is dead' thing," says Narula. "Googling it now is actually funny - there are some wonderful articles after the dot com crash on how the internet was a fad - it's funny how we go through those cycles," he says.
"Hell, in the early 90s AI was dead and gone, and never going to happen in our lifetime," he adds.
Improbable is a British metaverse technology company that partners with video game developers, entertainment companies, and defence and academic institutions to enable virtual worlds.
Narula published a book last year Virtual Society: The Metaverse and the New Frontiers of Human Experience. So, what prompted him to write the book?
"It was important for me to write it because the concept of the metaverse has really been abused horribly over the last few years. You know, I think Facebook really damaged not only people's perception of it, but actually made people misunderstand something that's going to be very important for their future, really, whether they like it or not, and that's something that needs to be fixed," he says.
"My book really is about how the idea of a world of ideas and experiences which we can enjoy and explore isn't really to do with modern technology. It's a fundamental aspect of our society. Whether you think about the world of sport, religion, or the world of fashion, and a world of ideas in which people have experiences and video games. These are an intimate part of people's lives - and the metaverse is just the next evolution of that, it's a context in which people can have evermore fulfilling experiences," he explains.
Narula will be attending the Tech.eu Summit where we will hear more about his insights into the metaverse, its role in learning, marketplaces, and sports.
"We are going to see sports transform. An industry that makes roughly a euro a year per fan, at the best top-end clubs, will be able to make the kind of money video games make, and to engage fans on a fundamental basis - we can do more than just be at the grounds to watch a game, we can now bring thousands of fans together, celebrate players, create rivalries and bring fun and enjoyment to everyone," says Narula.
Want to hear more? Join us in Brussels on 24th May at the Tech.eu Summit to continue the metaverse conversation.
While you are counting down the days to the Summit, if you're craving more background on Improbable, here's a great interview with Robin Wauters and Herman Narula outlining the company's history, particularly during the rise of the term The Metaverse.