Microsoft CEO Nadella Details His Vision of Metaverse-for-All

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella thinks the metaverse will be transformative. “Just like the first wave of the Internet allowed everybody to build a website, I think the next wave of the Internet will be a more open world where people can build their own metaverse worlds, whether they’re organizations or game developers or anyone else,” Nadella told analysts on an earnings call last week. The remarks follow Nadella’s January 18 statement that Microsoft’s $69 billion bid for Activision Blizzard “will provide building blocks for the metaverse.” Microsoft expects the deal to close in fiscal 2023, which begins July 1.

In a November interview on Bloomberg TV, Nadella said three of Microsoft’s gaming franchises — “Halo,” “Flight Simulator” and “Minecraft” — are already in the metaverse, which is still being defined. Noting those games are “2D today, the question is can you take that to a full 3D world, and we definitely plan to do so,” the executive said.

Fast Company makes the point that “even though Meta/Facebook is trying to convince the world that social networking is the most natural on-ramp to the metaverse, it could just as easily be gaming instead.”

Citing two games that have world-building components — Epic’s “Fortnite” and Roblox Corporation’s “Roblox” — Fast Company observes “we’ve seen how easily gaming experiences can flow into purely social ones when people stop playing the game and just hang out,” and notes that “if the metaverse bends that way, Microsoft would be in a strong position.”

Activision Blizzard would bring Microsoft popular franchises including “Call of Duty,” “Diablo,” “Overwatch,” “Candy Crush” and “World of Warcraft.” (With the exception of “Candy Crush,” which is mobile-first, and “WOW,” an MMO game for PC and Mac, those games are already available for Microsoft’s Xbox platform.)

The deal is subject to regulatory approval, and Engadget reports “in the U.S. the proposed acquisition will be reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission instead of the Justice Department.”

Fast Company concludes “the metaverse will very likely be a place where we work, too,” a plus for Microsoft, a company involved in gaming and productivity.

“A 3D virtual business meeting within Microsoft Teams might feel far less strange than one within Meta’s Horizon Workrooms, especially if some of the resources and data you might need for that meeting already reside in Microsoft apps,” Fast Company says, citing as another advantage the company’s head start in mixed-reality HoloLens eyewear.

Nadella told analysts that Microsoft’s Teams videoconferencing app will begin incorporating mixed-reality meetings via Mesh for Teams. Rolling out later this year, these immersive meetings “will start first on 2D screens whether it’s PCs or phones, and then lead up to immersive experiences if you wear your AR or VR goggles,” Nadella said.

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