Some of us on the team have made our opinions on the metaverse clear (opens in new tab), but that doesn't stop the mighty Zuck going ahead with his machinations. Plans to launch the metaverse, and convince today's youth to sign up (opens in new tab), are finally taking shape... in the form of *checks notes* a brick and mortar store?
The Meta Store (opens in new tab) is a physical space, situated beneath a Reality Labs office in Burlingame, California. Great positioning from a logistical standpoint, but why not use up some of that metaphysical real estate y'all are pushing so hard?
In order to encourage the offline masses' adoption of the far-fetched concepts of 'customisable avatars' and '3D spaces' onto the more disconnected generations, it seems Meta felt it best to ease them in with physical tester experiences, before putting them on a catheter and selling them an alternate life in VR. These are hard to grasp concepts after all.
In all honesty, though, you can't expect everyone to go out and purchase one of Meta's proposed four new VR headsets (opens in new tab) the second they come out, not without having tried the metaverse on for size. That's money that could be spent on Moonpies and Christmas socks for the grandkids.
Inside the store, prospective Metaheads can experience the Oculus Quest 2 (opens in new tab) (sorry, Meta Quest 2...), Ray-Ban Stories, and Portal. No that's not Portal as in the award winning Valve game, but the 'Meta Portal.' You can get familiar with it by, wait for it, placing a call "to a retail associate to fully explore its capabilities." Golly, what a ride.
Meta Portal experiences include Smart Camera (opens in new tab) which allows the camera to follow you around as you move, and can widen to make sure everyone's in shot; and Story Time (opens in new tab), which uses AR to put you or your kids inside your very own video call fairytale.
Best VR headset (opens in new tab): which kit should you choose?
Best graphics card (opens in new tab): you need serious GPU power for VR
Best gaming laptop (opens in new tab): don't get tied to your desktop in VR
Amazing what technology can do nowadays, huh?
Martin Gilliard, Head of Meta Store, explains that "Having the store here in Burlingame gives us more opportunity to experiment and keep the customer experience core to our development. What we learn here will help define our future retail strategy."
So not only is Meta easing people into the experience, it's encouraging them to become free quality assurance to improve the upcoming products. Smart move on Meta's part. Spend money on a physical space, save money on testers.