Parts of Mark Zuckerberg's Metaverse being built in Aotearoa - but can he pull this virtual reality dream off?

In the hunt for the next big thing, Mark Zuckerberg has staked the future of Facebook on building a 'metaverse'. 

It's a bold dream, so where is it? Well, parts of it are being built right here in Aotearoa. 

In 2021, Zuckerberg made a multi-billion dollar bet. Gorilla Tech chief executive Paul Spain said if Zuckerberg messes it up, it could "potentially destroy your company".  

The 'Metaverse' is basically our whole online life but experienced in virtual reality (VR), an expensive dream to turn into reality. 

So far, Meta has invested over $56 billion in developing Metaverse technology, a move that has spooked investors, with Meta's share price dropping by 60 percent in the past 12 months - a trillion-dollar plunge in value.

"Meta is trying to emulate the success that Apple had with the iPhone. They are betting that they can build a trillion-dollar empire off the back of the Metaverse. We just don't know if that's true yet," said Spain. 

So what bang has Zuckerberg bought for all those bucks?

For those with $3000 to spend on Meta's latest VR headset, you'll get something like a virtual avatar based on your real body. It will mimic your hand movements, facial expressions and gestures. 

It allows you to work, socialise and game, all in virtual spaces, but these spaces are all separate and moved through at the click of a button.

The promise of a fully interconnected virtual world is, so far, out of reach, but not as far as you might think. 

Full virtual worlds are already being built in our own backyard. Mighty Eyes director Sam Ramlu said, "VR is what is going to get you into space".

"So VR and VR gaming is kind of the next step into what we think the metaverse might be in a few years' time."

Mighty Eyes is an Auckland-based studio building award-winning VR games for the early Metaverse. Ramlu said with more investment, New Zealand could have its own Silicon Valley.

"We've proven to be leaders, I'd love for people to be talking about Aotearoa as a place where games and the future of creative tech is being formed and created and then developed."

While VR gaming is moving in leaps and bounds, Zuckerberg's most recent innovation? Online avatars with legs.

Whether his Metaverse has legs, however, remains to be seen.