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Microsoft CEO admits the Metaverse is actually just games

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Why it matters: Ever since tech companies like Facebook (when it renamed itself Meta) started describing the metaverse as a virtual 3D world where people will meet using avatars, people immediately started comparing it to video games. The CEO of Microsoft this week seems to have leaned into the association, suggesting Microsoft’s history in gaming will help its metaverse ambitions.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently held an interview with Financial Times (reprinted by Ars Technica), wherein he laid out the potential for the metaverse and its similarities with games. He went so far as to say the two are essentially the same thing.

“You and I will be sitting on a conference room table soon with either our avatars or our holograms or even 2D surfaces with surround audio,” Nadella said, reflecting on 20 years of the Xbox and the varied game franchises Microsoft produces, like Forza and Flight Simulator. “Guess what? The place where we have been doing that forever … is gaming.”

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Meta’s Horizons Workrooms beta provides a good example of what the metaverse may look like. Image credit: Meta

Nadella then suggested Microsoft’s plans involve making game-building tools more widely available to those who want to build in the metaverse. One example he put forward might be a digital simulation of a factory. Nadella also thinks younger generations, already accustomed to using avatars in games, will more easily acclimate to using avatars for other purposes.

In the rest of the lengthy interview, Nadella touched on other subjects like what the future could bring for remote work and an internet one can navigate with a single consistent identity.

According to recent reports, Microsoft’s metaverse ambitions might be in trouble. The company canceled a newer version of the HoloLens, a mixed-reality deal with Samsung crumbled, and some employees in that division left to join Meta.

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