In a recent interview with Financial Times (republished on Ars Technica), the Microsoft CEO says the Metaverse is basically creating games, alongside discussing their future with gaming.
Nadella stated that gaming is “at the core” of Microsoft’s business and are “much more integrated” to their identity than many would assume. Despite Windows taking up nearly a third of the market share and over 80% of Fortune 500 companies using their Azure cloud computing services, Microsoft’s CEO believed that their less impressive presence in the video game industry is equally important than their enterprise-related projects— if not more so.
Considering the fact that one of Nadella’s first decisions as CEO was to acquire Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5 billion, and the recent purchase of Activision Blizzard for $68 billion, his statements on the importance of gaming to the company’s future appear genuine.
Nadella’s position at the head of an influential software company lends legitimacy to his statements on the metaverse, which he is extremely interested in building with video games as a primary focus. The Microsoft CEO then went on to discuss the new platform, essentially saying Metaverse is basically creating games.
“What is the metaverse? Metaverse is essentially about creating games. It is about being able to put people, places, things [in] a physics engine and then having all the people, places, things in the physics engine relate to each other,” he said.
Satya Nadella also stated that “being great at game building gives us permission to build this new platform,” and that the company’s approach will “democratize the game building… and bring it to anybody who wants to build any space.” This presents a contrast to the newly rebranded Meta, which has several unpopular restrictions for users and developers.
It’s true that Facebook’s commitment to developing metaverse-related hardware and software has generated some impressive results; for example, over 50% of Steam VR players use Oculus headsets. However, the company still lost over a quarter of their market value in a single day and blamed rising metaverse costs as one of their issues.
Nadella went on to describe his ideas for potential Metaverse applications and their ability to enhance the way users can interact with online content. He mentioned the Together mode in Microsoft Teams, which he saw as a way to provide “a comfortable way for somebody to participate in a meeting” in a metaverse setting.
This presents an interesting contrast to Ken Kutaragi’s recent statements on the metaverse. Although Kutaragi identified irreconcilable differences between digital and physical worlds, Nadella sees a solution through gaming because it “teaches you what [new users’] expectations are of a computer-mediated interface.”
Much like the other aspects of Web3, the metaverse has been harshly criticized by users. For many ordinary gamers and internet users, watching gigantic companies publicly salivate over possible profits with thinly-disguised utopian rhetoric has only worsened their outlook on the internet’s future, and with the future of video games. However, Microsoft has generated some goodwill among gamers in recent years thanks to Game Pass and xCloud streaming.
It’s possible that the company responsible for Windows and Office could be the right capitalist overlords for the job of building the metaverse— especially if they give users the building blocks as well. At least they would do a better job than Wal-Mart.
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