May Health Be The Killer App For The Metaverse? Or Is It Gaming? Or Each?
Fitness applications that use VR headsets are contributing to the growth of VR.
In my Forbes column, which I wrote in mid-November, I suggested that the “Metaverse” was in the works.
This is very true. However, since Mark Zuckerberg stated that his company would be promoting the Metaverse and even renamed his company to reflect this new focus, much has been written about the Metaverse in general and many companies have shifted their focus to some level of Metaverse activity to expand their timetables.
I have stated in the past that I am very skeptical of anyone who wants a second life in a VR headset. The idea of spending hours at the end in a VR world seems untenable. On the other hand, it is very plausible to do certain things for a certain period of time. In fact, a segment of the Metaverse as Zuckerberg envisioned it has already been shown to be healthy.
Gaming has become a huge hit with Oculus Quest 2 and other VR headsets that support gaming. According to a report from Fortune Business Insights:
“The global virtual reality in gaming market is projected to grow from $ 7.92 billion in 2021 to $ 53.44 billion in 2028, with a CAGR of 31.4% over the forecast period.”
Another segment with a high level of interest in VR is fitness. Companies like Fit XR and Supernatural have strong demand and customers willing to pay monthly subscription fees.
As I research the demand for VR headsets this holiday season, I find that people who buy an Oculus Quest headset are not buying it for the main concept that Zuckerberg outlined in his Metaverse vision. The fact that people meet virtually, watch videos together and even hold meetings is of little interest to current VR headset buyers.
Gaming was the driving force behind these VR headsets last Christmas. This season we are seeing increased interest in VR exercises which are driving demand for these products. Together they turn out to be the killer apps for VR that arouse the greatest interest.
That’s not to say that Zuckerberg’s vision of creating virtual meeting rooms and meeting places will never succeed. Connecting people is central to Facebook’s original mission, and he wants to bring their customers into the Metaverse and recreate the Facebook experience in a VR world.
But even he sees the value of exercise for his Metaverse vision and recently bought Within, creator of the Supernatural VR fitness app.
The other aspect of Zuckerberg’s metaverse vision is the fact that people are represented as avatars. But even if the avatar gets a virtual replica of you personally, it is still an avatar. I think it would be more realistic if my actual person could be transported into this virtual world that allows me to inhabit the Metaverse as myself.
I now realize that technology is not there to beam me into the metaverse at will, and given the physics around that concept, it will never be something we will do in the future.
While the Metaverse is still a work in progress, I think 2022 will be a big year for gaming and fitness in VR. I’ll be watching Meta evolve as they try to create their version of a connected metaverse, but I won’t be surprised if both gaming and training are driving the growth of VR headsets in the new year.