You’d think, given the various questions and controversies around Meta’s metaverse avatars, that it’d probably want to reduce the focus on them for the time being, just till things start to take more shape.
But that’s evidently not the approach that Meta’s taking, as it’s rolled out a new set of Liverpool FC fan outfits for Meta avatars, providing another option to customize your digital doppelganger across its apps.
As per Meta:
“Today, Liverpool FC debuted a collection of virtual apparel that you can purchase in the Meta Avatars Store on Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and later this year in virtual reality. The collection includes both a Liverpool FC home and away kit, as well as a pair of LFC label fashion wear looks.”
Note that these new outfits are not being made available in VR as yet. That could be because Meta’s VR avatars have been a focus of major criticism for the company’s metaverse push, following this post from Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg:
Meta, which has invested billions into VR development, has since been heavily questioned about why its VR environment looks so bad, and why Zuckerberg was seemingly unaware of this fact when he posted this image.
Following this, Zuckerberg clarified that its avatar and VR developments are actually far more advanced than it may seem, and promised to show more at its Connect Conference.
And Meta did indeed show off its improved avatars at Connect, which also included, for the first time, legs on its VR depictions.
Legs are obviously very hard for Meta to simulate, because its VR headsets don’t include leg sensors of any kind, so it has no way of tracking leg movement. But Meta’s working on a new process, called QuestSim, that will use AI to estimate what your legs are doing as you engage in the VR environment, by taking cues taken from the movements that it can track, in your arms and head, to guess where your legs are placed at any given time.
And it looks pretty accurate in practice, going on Zuckerberg’s demo at Connect.
That’s pretty good, right? Meta’s leg estimation process seems pretty spot-on, which could be a major upgrade for metaverse interaction.
Except, it’s not actually that good – or at least, it may not be, because this video was not created using QuestSim, it was created using motion capture, which is a far more advanced, and expensive, process for capturing body movement.
As Meta told UploadVR:
“To enable this preview of what’s to come, the segment featured animations created from motion capture.”
Motion capture is currently not part of Meta’s commercial VR offerings, and it seems ridiculous that it would revert to using this as a means to present what it purported to be its leg simulation process that’s coming to all VR users. Because it’s not, and we have no idea how good QuestSim might actually be for the same.
But Meta needs to showcase the best version of its metaverse vision, in order to win people over to the project, and keep investors impressed. It seems crazy to think that the addition of digital legs is going to become a key point of contention in the company’s next earnings update, but it likely is, with some market analysts now raising questions as to the validity of Meta’s claims, given that it would revert to claiming that enhanced depictions like this are representative of coming consumer updates.
So again, it seems like it’s not the best time for Meta to be showcasing its latest avatar additions. But it is anyway, with its Liverpool FC kits adding to already available fashion collections from Balenciaga, Prada and Thom Browne in its avatar fashion store.
Eventually, Meta sees these digital goods offerings as being a new revenue stream for the company, and for business promotion, with virtual merchandise opening up entirely new connection options for various providers.
And they will likely become a thing, as they have already in Fortnite, Roblox and others.
But Meta’s still got some avatar challenges to work on before it can truly take the next stage.
But, you know, football kits. Cool right?