I’m sorry, but at this point, if you don’t at least know the basics of what the Metaverse is—or what it will be, or what Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Sweeney and other tech moguls are betting billions of dollars hoping it will be—you probably shouldn’t be in the What I’m Hearing community. If not, though, how’s this for a mouthful: “A massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds that can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users with an individual sense of presence, and with continuity of data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications, and payments.”
Got it? That’s from Matthew Ball’s new book, The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything, and it’s just a fancy way of summarizing the next iteration of the internet: an immersive, video-game-like virtual world where everyone will congregate to do normal life stuff: run errands, argue about Donald Trump, and be entertained. That last part carries big implications for Hollywood, of course, some of which I discussed with Matthew last October. Since then, there’s been a ton of movement on the topic: Disney has begun involving top content executives in its Metaverse plans, I’m told, and just today, the company announced a group of Metaverse-related startups will participate in its accelerator program. Netflix, at the same time, has been investing heavily in gaming, which some believe is a precursor to whatever Netflix’s Metaverse play might be.
It was enough to make me want to talk to Matthew again. So on the occasion of his new book (out July 19, pre-order it here), I got the investor and former head of strategy for Amazon Studios back on a Zoom to discuss Disney’s failures in gaming, how an immersive Star Wars will feel, and Netflix’s tough road ahead. Highlights from our conversation have been edited for clarity and length.