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Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that user-generated content tools will help bridge 2D gaming experiences on Facebook to Meta’s long-term vision for the metaverse.
The metaverse is the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. Last October, Zuckerberg renamed Facebook as Meta and pivoted to a metaverse strategy, driven by the company’s investments in virtual reality.
In the summer of 2021, Meta bought Unity 2 Games, a United Kingdom company that made a user-generated content tool dubbed Crayta. Beefed up by Meta, Crayta will launch today as a cloud-streamed experience.
Zuckerberg is also announcing that Facebook Gaming is expanding the availability of its catalog of cloud games to more countries across Western Europe, an important step as this same infrastructure will be instrumental in delivering metaverse experiences across Meta’s platforms in the future.
With the addition of Crayta, Facebook Gaming is continuing its mission of making games more accessible and democratizing game development, the company said.
First launched on Google Stadia in 2020 and then on the Epic Games Store on PC in 2021, Crayta provides thousands of user-created games and virtual worlds for people to play and engage with. It also offers an easy to use toolkit that enables anyone to collaboratively create their own games and build their own experiences from the ground up.
For the announcement, Zuckerberg joined Crayta creators in-game to rebuild Meta’s headquarters campus courtyard, Hacker Square, complete with mini games and amusement park attractions. While building, Zuckerberg and the creators discussed the future of the creator ecosystem, the emerging category of gaming creators as world builders, long term vision for the metaverse, Facebook Gaming’s cloud infrastructure and its implications for delivering metaverse experiences, and more.
“One of the things that I really love about this is the idea of being able to design a space or design a game from inside of the space or game,” Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg worked with Crayta creators DryCoast & Kay reimagining Meta’s Hacker Square in-game alongside Russ Dooley from the development team at Crayta.
Regarding cloud infrastructure, Zuckerberg said, “Historically if you wanted to have something like this run in this high quality of a 3D environment, that would be really hard to render in a browser or on phones, but being able to do it with cloud infrastructure and then send it down across the network after having already rendered it in the cloud is a pretty big advance.”
Zuckerberg said he has been a gamer since he was a kid.
“When I started building things when I was a kid, it was first I got a computer, started playing games, then started writing games and developing and then from there started coding other things. I’m really excited about giving people more tools to build games,” Zuckerberg said.
You see, you too can be a multi-billionaire, if you just play games. Tell your parents that.
On the potential for the metaverse to be 2D and 3D, Zuckerberg said, “A lot of times today, people think about the metaverse as 3D experiences you can have in virtual and augmented reality, but I think what Crayta shows is that you can both build and enjoy these kind of experiences really easily on all kinds of 2D environments including just within the Facebook App on phones and on computers.”
He added, “Excited to launch our Crayta social world and game-building environment on Facebook Gaming. With our cloud-streaming tech, it’s really fast to build on both mobile and desktop even if you don’t have a powerful system. I recently jumped into Crayta with some talented creators to talk about the future of gaming while building Meta’s iconic Hacker Square.”
There are of course folks who are skeptical of Meta, which has been losing around $3 billion a quarter in its Reality Labs metaverse division. But if you put the totality of the company’s finances in context to those losses, Zuckerberg has a long time to experiment with the metaverse.
“For some, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s near-fanatical obsession with the Metaverse represents a headache-inducing headwind. Last year he argued ‘I believe the metaverse is the next chapter for the internet.’ But context is important – it’s one thing for Zuckerberg to change the company’s mantra; it’s another to change its source of revenue,” said Charles Archer, financial writer at IG. “The CEO might be throwing away this money, but it could just as easily be a sound investment from an incredibly successful entrepreneur. Moreover, Meta generated nearly $118 billion in revenue and $29.4 billion in profit in 2021. It can comfortably afford to spend $1 billion a month on the Metaverse. If the concept never takes off, it can simply close Reality Labs at any point and retain the extra cash. And with an attractive price-to-earnings ratio of just 15, Meta shares remain the world’s social media superpower.”