Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Feb. 6, 2022]

Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Feb. 6, 2022]

7 months ago

CoinMarketCap takes a look at some of the latest happenings in the metaverse — from virtual Lunar New Year celebrations held by McDonald's, to Apple potentially entering the metaverse space.

Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week? [Feb. 6, 2022]

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As the race to build metaverse products and experiences deepens, companies may have to do more to protect their users. A woman has shared her experience about being sexually harrassed on the metaverse by three men. Meanwhile, Meta’s metaverse efforts have left the social media giant in losses.

Here’s a rundown of some top metaverse news over the past week.

Mother Sexually Harassed on the Metaverse

In December, news broke that one of the early testers of Meta’s Horizon Worlds app was sexually harassed on the metaverse. Well, it appears that was just the beginning of a new wave of sexual offenses in the virtual world.

A mother is now suffering anxiety after she was attacked by three different men on Meta’s online world. Nina Jane Patel claimed she was groped, chased around, and shouted at in just 60 seconds after entering the metaverse.

According to Patel, she created an avatar that she felt represented her personality – a young middle-aged woman, blonde, and dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved top. However, 60 seconds after entering the lobby, her character was ‘groped aggressively.’ She was pursued and groped, with her attackers throwing streams of sexual innuendos. They also took screenshots of the attack which lasted for several minutes.

“I entered the Horizon Venues metaverse [...] within 60 seconds, three male avatars – who all had male voices – came towards me and touched me inappropriately. Before I knew what was happening, they were taking screenshots of them touching my avatar, both my upper and lower body. While doing that, they said things like, ‘Don’t pretend you don’t love it.’ I tried to move away but they followed me. I didn’t know who these people were or have the time to stay and investigate.”
As reported by Daily Mail, the attack happened in full view of other persons who were logged into the metaverse.

Patel’s experience has raised a lot of concerns about the future of the metaverse in relation to being a safe haven for pedophiles and sexual offenders. A senior lawyer with a London law firm Brett Wilson said that the attack was not really an offense. However, ministers may have to consider rolling out laws to protect those entering the metaverse. Nick Brett said:

“Where a woman has been sexually assaulted virtually, that itself possibly ought to be illegal but isn’t at present.”

Commenting further on her experience, the 43-year-old mum said her “friends and colleagues [had] experienced racism, sexism and other forms of assault on the Metaverse. I’ve heard many damaging experiences from women where their avatars have been sexually and verbally abused.”

In all fairness, Venues, which is available to those 18 and above, has a ‘safe zone’ feature. When turned on, a bubble appears over the avatar of a user and prevents others from interacting with them. Nina, however, claims that this feature is inadequate.

Interestingly, Nina is going on to build her own educational metaverse called Kabuni. Her platform is targeted at children aged eight to sixteen and will have stricter parental controls.

McDonald’s Holds Lunar New Year Celebrations on the Metaverse

Earlier this week, McDonald teamed with Humberto Leon, the co-founder of the fashion brand Opening Ceremony, to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year on the metaverse.

Billed as the “Year of the Tiger,” the initiative was the fast-food company’s first cross-media collaboration. The "McDonald's Hall of Zodiacs: 2022 Lunar New Year with Humberto Leon" displayed zodiac sculptures from Leon, inspired by Chinese cork-carved dioramas and 3D wood puzzles.

Visitors have the opportunity to explore the zodiac collections by entering AltspaceVR and Spatial virtual reality platforms from February 1 to February 15. Horoscope readings are also available for participants based on their zodiac signs.

Fans can relax at the McDonald’s lounge, which houses a TV spot where they can learn about Leon’s diverse identity and reflections for the Lunar New Year. The lounge features a lantern display and visitors can light and release their own lanterns into the sky.

To make the experience even more immersive and elaborate, there are red envelopes (hongbao). These are traditionally filled with money and used to symbolize prosperity. Participants can share the virtual red envelopes with others.

Commenting on the collaboration, Leon said:

“Lunar New Year is not only a time to celebrate with family and friends, but also gives us Asian Americans the perfect opportunity to share our cultural heritage with people throughout the various communities we call home. Partnering with McDonald's means a lot to me because it's a brand that has always been committed to embracing and celebrating the universality of all cultures, helping me see myself in the brand and in the world. Kicking off Lunar New Year with McDonald's in a way that underscores the creativity and innovation of the Asian American community, makes me proud to offer a true expression of my identity and the influences that have shaped it, to which I know many will relate.”

Meta Expands Memoji-like Avatars to Instagram

In a bid to expand its metaverse push, Meta (formerly Facebook) announced on Monday that it was “expanding Avatars so that they better reflect the billions of unique people on this planet.” Furthermore, the company is adding new facial shapes and assistive devices for people with disabilities.

Moving forward 3D Avatars will be available on Instagram Stories, as well as DMs. The feature is currently available in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

“VR and Quest are key parts of our metaverse vision, but we see the metaverse as an interconnected digital world, one that bridges VR and AR, in addition to more familiar platforms like your phone and computer. Rolling out avatars across our platforms is an early step towards making this a reality.”

Entain Mulls Over $133 Million Metaverse Investment

International sports betting and gambling company Entain is gearing up to make its entry into the metaverse space. The company is set to launch Ennovate, an innovation center to develop metaverse games and other interactive entertainment products.

Entain is looking to invest $133 million into establishing its global innovation lab. Specifically, the company wants to fund start-ups in the sector and develop applications for non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
In a recent interview with CNBC, Entain’s CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen named the partners that are involved in the initiative, including the American telecommunications conglomerate Verizon, British telecom entity BT and decentralized video delivery network Theta Labs.

As per the interview, Ennovate is expected to be fully operational by March. Jette noted that her company was interested in leading the way in the sector with “new, exciting products and experience for customers.” She boasted that the company’s “cutting-edge technology” allows it to spearhead innovations in sport, entertainment, and gaming experiences for the metaverse.

Meta Lost $10 Billion on Metaverse Efforts in 2021

On Wednesday, Meta reported its fourth quarter and full year 2021 results, revealing a loss of more than $10 billion from its Reality Labs division. Apparently, the company’s metaverse push may not have been all sunshine and rainbows.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, Meta began reporting financial results based on two segments — Reality Labs, which includes its AR and VR-related content, software and hardware; and its family of apps, which covers Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and other services.

According to the report, the Reality Labs division generated a revenue of $2.2 billion in 2021 while recording a $10 billion income loss. Overall, Meta’s net income for last year was $39 billion.

Meta is quite optimistic about the future despite the heavy losses. It expects its first-quarter 2022 total revenue to be within $27 to $29 billion. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in the report:

“I’m encouraged by the progress we made this past year in a number of important growth areas like Reels, commerce, and virtual reality, and we’ll continue investing in these and other key priorities in 2022 as we work towards building the metaverse.”
Meanwhile, the price of Meta shares tumbled by over 20% after the results were announced, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Apple Stocks Surge Following Metaverse Tease

While Meta’s stock price is currently suffering the brunt of the company’s Q4 metaverse losses, Apple is riding the wave of its recent metaverse goals. The company’s stock prices have climbed after it unveiled key details of its metaverse plans.
In its first fiscal quarter earnings calls, Apple Inc. revealed that its App Store had reached roughly 14,000 AR apps. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said that his company saw “a lot of potential in this space and are investing accordingly.” He added:
“That’s where the magic really happens. There’s quite a bit of investment going into things that are not on the market at this point.”

Following the announcement, Apple stocks climbed by nearly 5 percent. There was also a 24 percent climb in service revenues, or $19 billion.

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