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How Meaningful Will Time Spent Be in Virtual Worlds?

By Demitri Kalogeropoulos and Asit Sharma – Jan 5, 2022 at 6:51PM

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It's an important question for investors to ponder.

Investors are still trying to judge the financial implications of the metaverse as companies -- including Meta Platforms' (META -1.06%) Facebook -- jockey for early-mover advantages in the digital space. But will consumers show up?

In this video from The Virtual Opportunities Show, recorded on Dec. 21, Fool contributors Asit Sharma and Demitri Kalogeropoulos discuss the prospect of digital spaces consuming more of our time in the years ahead. 

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Asit Sharma: Here's the statement; "The virtual world will ultimately consume more of our time and be more meaningful to us than the physical world." Let me read it again because I know you and I have it right in front of us. Let me read it again for our viewers: "The virtual world will ultimately consume more of our time and be more meaningful to us than the physical world."

Demitri Kalogeropoulos: Yeah. First hearing that, I think my gut response was "no way" kind of thing. "That's impossible. It couldn't possibly be true." But when I sat and wanted to take a sober look at that idea -- and we're talking about not necessarily not in the next six months. We don't even know what this so-called metaverse is going to look like that Facebook is talking about being the next round of the internet that most of us will be using in something like three to five years.

We don't even know what that looks like right now, but I think the amount-of-time situation is a little bit of an easier answer for me. I think that's probably true. I'm not saying necessarily with the virtual goggles where the world is completely blocked out and you're in just the virtual world. I think this augmented reality (AR), sort of the AR space, probably we'll be experiencing that more than just outside of it. I think that I could see a future with that. I know Apple's working on an AR product right now, and that's got to be pretty groundbreaking, I'm sure when that comes out. But you look at these glasses, Facebook's got those new Ray-Ban Stories glasses. You see the videos of those and they are interesting. They're sunglasses and they allow you to project. They allow you to take videos of what you're looking at without taking you out of the moments.

I guess you can call that hybrid living in virtual and real reality. Then as far as more meaningful, I want to say like again, I want my gut reaction was "No way." It's like the real world is what's important and what matters. But then again, just the opportunities I think you're going to have in the virtual world. I understand why these companies are getting so excited about education is just one example or experiences, virtual experiences. Video games are getting much better at that. People are spending many hours in their video games. I know Activision has said mid this year, something like people are spending four times as much time in their Call of Duty franchise than they were a year before, even during the height of the pandemic. I think those digital worlds are going to get even more and more immersive, and more sort of engaging. I don't think maybe in the next few years but maybe 10 years down the road, I wouldn't be surprised.

Asit Sharma: I like to think what it will be 10 or 20 years from now because that's the time for another generation of people to cycle through. I certainly remember the joys of not having any kind of digital communication. The brain space compared to what I have today, we're probably of the last generation to even though that's like, Demitri. When we were younger there was, you didn't carry a cellphone everywhere. For me, even I resisted for a long time getting a cellphone and wanted to be in the physical world before there was even this digital component. I thought cellular to me when I was younger was like, I called it the equivalent of AR world today. Like why would you want to participate in that? But I see a generation go through and I see younger people who have grown up digitally native and they get, for all the downsides, they get a tremendous amount out of this. For example, you travel somewhere and make a friend.

You can be pretty connected with that friend the way that we couldn't be unless two people took the trouble to write letters or have phone calls. So there is an aspect that I've already seen of embracing the latest technology. It's not all bad. And I shouldn't be all cynical about it. If we advanced 10 to 15 years and let's say that it's pretty everyday for you to integrate your modes of communication with your visual spectrum. So let's say that the glasses are the governing thing that you may  wear and you don't have a phone anymore because maybe you can just control the glasses by talking to them. And we can do that today really. I mean, we've already have smart speakers. I don't, but many of my friends do. "Alexa, call Demitri." I'm not even wearing anything. But just take that one step further to the virtual realm and the ability to step into the augmented reality worlds or the metaverse and move seamlessly between the two. I think that's coming over time.

It's not something that I think can be stopped because I think that younger people, when they're introduced to it as a way of life, they will be just like I was in my little physical analog world with analog records as a kid and no technology that we have today. That's what I knew, and I was perfectly happy to embrace that. So I think the question of the time that we'll spend is maybe we're all at consensus there and I don't know as far as will be more meaningful. I wrestle with that myself. My first thought is it won't, and already people tire of too much virtual experience.

Right now, headsets are very clunky and they're very aggravating to have for a little more time. And if any of you have had the opportunity to spend time in a metaverse world or a VR world or an AR world, you know that you can get sort of quickly tired of it. Your brain gets a little tired of that environment. You want to step out of it. And I think that there will always be something very beautiful about one-to-one human interaction or human-to-nature interaction that involves no technology. So I see that maybe my thought is it could be a pendulum where we go into overdrive, some of us, and embrace these worlds and then recoil a bit and rediscover the beauty of not having to use technology to be together, and to experience life together.

Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Asit Sharma has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Demitri Kalogeropoulos owns Activision Blizzard, Apple, and Meta Platforms, Inc. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Activision Blizzard, Apple, and Meta Platforms, Inc. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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