Niantic Says the Metaverse is a Dystopian Nightmare

Niantic wrote a blog post on its website titled: “The Metaverse is a Dystopian Nightmare. Let’s Build a Better Reality”. Niantic starts by pointing out some of the sci-fi books in which the metaverse is harmful to people. Some examples include William Gibson’s work, in which characters spend time wired into a digital universe where they explore, socialize, and fight. Niantic also pointed to Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, where “virtually everyone has abandoned reality for an elaborate VR massively multiplayer video game.”

This is unexpected take from a company that makes games that require players to log in to a virtual world as they walk around outside gathering items, collecting things, and fighting battles.

I think the main purpose of Niantic’s blog post was to highlight their Lightship Platform. Here is an explanation from Niantic’s blog post:

“Building the metaverse lies at the intersection of two major technical undertakings: synchronizing the state of hundreds of millions of users around the world (along with the virtual objects they interact with), and tying those users and objects precisely to the physical world. The first exists today in the Niantic Lightship platform, which underpins Pokémon GO and all of our products and supports hundreds of millions of users around the world.

“It means that those millions of users can create, change, and interact with digital objects in the physical world and that experience is consistent and shared by everyone. In the world of software, we call that a ‘shared state” – we are all seeing the same thing, the same enhancements to the world. If you change something it’s reflected in what I see, and vice versa, for the millions of participants using the system.”

Niantic is also appears to be interested in creating AR smart glasses. The company states that it has partnered with Qualcomm to invest in a reference design for outdoor-capable AR glasses that can orient themselves using Niantic’s map and render information and virtual worlds on top of the physical world. Niantic seems to suggest that this partnership would allow many partners to create and distribute compatible glasses.

Niantic believes that the metaverse is a dystopian nightmare. That said, it hopes that many players will choose to experience the version of the metaverse the they are creating.