The “Father of the Playstation” pulled no punches when asked about his thoughts on the Metaverse in an interview with Bloomberg, echoing what a lot of the naysayers have been expressing since it became the buzzword du jour in the tech world. Bloomberg interviewed gaming industry legend Ken Kutaragi, former CEO and Chairman of Sony’s gaming division, asking his thoughts about this virtual future we will all be experiencing someday, and he didn’t mince words. “Headsets would isolate you from the real world, and I can’t agree with that,” he said, referring to the fact that we will need some kind of head-mounted display (HMD) to enter this fantasy realm. “Headsets are simply annoying,” he concluded.
For those who have been living under a rock, the Metaverse is a concept that has been around for quite some time, but it has gained a lot of traction in just the past few months due to Facebook changing its name to Meta, and releasing an unintentionally comical video showing what it thinks it will look like. Though the video spawned a million memes and a hefty amount of online salt, not everyone is laughing, as it seems like every major tech company is jumping onboard the Metaverse bandwagon now. Last week’s buyout of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft for almost $70 billion was reported to be Mateverse-related, and even non-tech companies like Boeing are already talking about how it wants to build planes in the Metaverse, somehow.
For the uninitiated, the Metaverse as currently understood by most requires you to don a Virtual Reality (VR) headset of some kind, and enter a virtual world where your avatar can do all the things you currently do in the real world, either at home, at work, our in the actual world. For example, you could join a meeting with your co-workers and see all their avatars just as they would see yours, and the meeting room could be on top of a volcano, for instance. It’s basically like a Zoom meeting on acid. Regardless of the merits of this type of limitless access to new experiences, Kutaragi isn’t impressed. “Being in the real world is very important, but the metaverse is about making quasi-real in the virtual world, and I can’t see the point of doing it,” he told Bloomberg. Going even further with his criticism, he asked, “You would rather be a polished avatar instead of your real self? That’s essentially no different from anonymous messageboard sites.”
Though Kutaragi might not be on the same page as some of his peers when it comes to the Metaverse’s future, there do seem to be some who tacitly agree with him. As an example, it was reported recently that Apple’s upcoming headset, which will likely offer both Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality, will be designed in a way that will not be “Metaverse friendly.” Instead Apple is reportedly interested in its customers only wearing it for brief periods of time in order to consume content, as opposed to donning it and collapsing into a bean bag chair for an entire work day. Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman stated, “I’ve been told pretty directly that the idea of a completely virtual world where users can escape to — like they can in Meta Platforms/Facebook’s vision of the future — is off limits from Apple,” said Gurman.
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