What is the Metaverse?
It’s not the Matrix, that’s certain. Maybe it’s more like the Oasis. But, pop culture aside, what really, truly IS the actual Metaverse? More to the point, what does the Metaverse have the potential to become? And what role will it play in human society going forward? Chances are, if you’re reading the Stambol blog, you already have ideas about how to answer these questions. But just for fun (and the Metaverse is all about fun!) let’s break it down in detail.
The Metaverse in a Nutshell
We’re still in the early days of building the virtual space many are already calling the Metaverse. It’s realistic to expect that the name may change. To some, the term is interchangeable with the AR Cloud or a Spatial Internet.
What we do know is that the Metaverse is going to be a digital version of our real world, layered with every surreal possibility ever imagined.
The Metaverse will, in short, be a virtual world where you can do anything, with anyone.
Will it be driven by haptic peripherals or brain implants? Yes. All things are still possible and probable at the moment.
Will it be proprietary or open source? We can only hope for the latter.
The Metaverse can and must be more than an entertainment realm to grow into its full potential. It needs to be a space for connection and commerce, solving problems and unleashing possibilities.
What We Do in The Metaverse
Like the Internet before it, the Metaverse is made of invisible cloth, woven with code, dancing across the circuits and wires that cover our planet. It’s not simply a mirror of the real world. In fact, much about the Metaverse is surreal, designed to make the impossible possible. So, with that in mind, we want you to stretch your mental muscles to visualize everything you can do there.
VR gaming spaces are natural fit for the Metaverse, and already make up a large portion of what developers will build upon. From quest-based, multi-player games to interactive fitness-inspired activities, the engagement potential of games will be a huge draw.
As virtual games continue proliferating through the massive world of traditional video games, more content and players will make their way to the Metaverse. The social aspect of gaming with friends will intensify. As will the psychological rewards of completing a quest or defeating a boss.
Online spaces can easily be much more than games and game hubs. And so, they are becoming more. Virtual hangout spaces – popularized during pandemic lockdowns – have the capacity to last in the long run because they meet a very basic need for people to connect.
Many gamers will tell you that half of the reason they enjoy games and return to the same online game time and again is because of the friends they’ve made. If users care more about gaming with the right people than they do about the game they’re playing, an opportunity exists to serve these users in more ways than just delivering content.
NFTs or non-fungible tokens are a new form of digital art and collectibles that has taken the world by storm. We know we’ll be seeing Metaverse galleries where collectors display their treasures and artists offer works for sale.
While some creatives consider this phenomenon to be a fad, many are looking at NFTs as an indicator of things to come. If the Creator Economy is legitimately taking off, we expect to see a lot of that activity – NFTs and more – happening within the Metaverse.
Of course, the amount you’ll be asked to work inside the Metaverse will be relative to your job. Just like working from home doesn’t accommodate all professions, not everyone will be able to do their job inside a virtual space. But any technology or movement that prompts society to redefine what constitutes work, as well as where and how it can be done, is worth watching closely.
If you’ve been missing malls during the pandemic, picture a future in which a trip to the mall feels real, but you never leave home. Try-before-you-buy and NFTs could merge into an industry of renting designer digital gear alongside the creation of bespoke accessories for your virtual self.
We think it’s very likely that users will splurge on shoes, a coat, or a ring that might seem a bit outlandish to wear in the real world, but works perfectly in a surreal digital environment. Think about the elaborate accessories and skins Fortnite users go nuts over and replicate that phenomenon throughout the Metaverse.
The days of needing to move across a province or even a country to attend school are coming to a close. The pandemic has affected post-secondary institutions – and notions of what it means to be an adult student – in ways that we think are irreversible.
Who will teach us? How? And for what purposes? This will all be reshuffled in educational digital spaces that have the potential to laser-focus academic discussions and professional training.
Movie theatres are already popping up in the Metaverse, like so many other forms of entertainment that had to be adapted during the pandemic. Will performance theatre follow? We hope so.
The novelty of going to a theatre will probably always be with us. Since the dawn of theatre in the ancient world, attending a live show (and now also movies) could easily operate in both worlds. What really delights us is the possibility of combinations.
Shared immersive spaces will ultimately offer us nothing less than the chance to live our dreams. To walk on the Moon or Mars, through Rivendell or across Asgard.
We will be using the Metaverse to relax and have adventures. We will be capturing users who are seeking entertainment and escape, but are not interested in gaming or television. Can you envision being sent back to ancient Egypt for a tour of Giza’s temples and monuments in their heyday? Or getting to ride a Pegasus through a world of Greek mythology? Those ideas are just the tip of the iceberg.
Management of the Metaverse
One of the most important questions about our growing virtual world is, will anyone own it? Players like Facebook and Amazon are bound to make attempts at controlling or directing the Metaverse even if they aren’t technically able to own it.
If you watch the video above, you’ll hear John Coogan talk about how Facebook is leaning in hard on Metaverse development. In a nutshell, Marc Zuckerberg believes the future of the internet and our digital lives is immersive and that VR is the bridge that will get us there.
If you believe what Zuckerberg believes, it becomes easy to understand why it’s worth investing in the Metaverse despite the fact that users aren’t yet lined up around the block.
Building the Metaverse
Regardless of the lag the tech industry has seen in terms of VR and AR adoption for home users, right now is an extremely exciting time to be a part of building the Metaverse. It’s not just about getting Zuck-style rich and famous. It’s about the chance to shape something that could revolutionize the way human beings live, interact with each other, and interact with the planet.
The few years ahead are a collective point in history when smaller players have the opportunity to thread form and function into something huge. If you think a Facebook or Amazon-controlled Metaverse sounds dystopian, the time to get involved is right now.
Living in the Metaverse
We’ve also previously discussed morality in immersive experiences, and we see that being an issue in the coming Metaverse as a whole. Touching on the last point above about experiences, it doesn’t take much imagination to conceive of what some minds will want to do or see when the sky is the limit and real-world consequences are removed. Who will rein in that content and how? It’s an issue we can only tackle over time.
The Role of Digital Currency
Now it’s time to talk about cryptocurrency again. Digital money has ridden a proverbial roller coaster these last few years, causing eyebrows to lift and pearls to be clutched. But whether you feel crypto is the investment that could change your life, or a house of cards that is sure to fall, or something in between, we want you to get comfortable with the idea of having some amount of crypto in your asset portfolio.
Either personally or professionally, we expect a large number of people to need to buy and use crypto in the coming decades. Transactions in the Metaverse will of course all take place virtually. But some businesses or individual sellers will only accept crypto. The same way many online sellers only accept PayPal.
Locating the Metaverse
We’re going to compare the Metaverse to the Internet one more time to renew your interpretation of this space as a concept rather than a physical location. You may know someone who conceives of the Metaverse as another dimension, a place you can walk through a portal to enter. While it’s a fun visualization, a true and robust understanding of the Metaverse needs to embrace the multi-host, multi-hub nature of the beast.
Yes, there will be huge server farms powering large chunks of online territory. We will also have physical storefronts or cafes to serve users who don’t have suitable VR-friendly spaces or Zoom rooms in their own homes.
The reality is that the Metaverse is an idea, one that provides a concrete topic, a meeting ground for techs and regular users.
Marketing Opportunities VS. Content Delivery
Are you starting to think about how your business can enter the Metaverse? The first topic to consider is the type of engagement you’ll be trying to achieve. Are you looking for a place to promote something from the real world? Or will your product be a part of the Metaverse itself?
There is absolutely room to do both things in the Metaverse. It can be a part of your marketing plan, serving as a new channel through which to reach potential customers. Or you can provide digital products and services, many of which still haven’t been invented yet.
For example, the user visiting Rivendell will need a skin – and possibly a tour guide, real or AI-based. While there, maybe that user would consider purchasing something for their home or wardrobe to remember their adventure. Just one small facet of the prism that is the Metaverse.
Your Guides to The Metaverse
We love giving our imaginations a workout picturing what the future will hold, based on what we know, and what we wish for. Stambol disruptors love change too, which is why we always embrace new technology and new ways of doing things. It’s this forward-thinking attitude which makes us ideal transformation partners.
Ask us how the Metaverse can and will influence your industry. Most importantly, learn how your business can use virtual spaces to do more than just keep pace with your competitors. We can help you use technology to leap ahead – and stay there.
Feature Image Credit: Ekaterina Glazkova / Adobe Stock