The Metaverse does not only consist of game worlds | Admixture | Open microphone

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When we talk about the metaverse, we generally use gaming as a point of reference. That’s because the Metaverse is, or will be, a series of interconnected digital worlds – and of course many of the most famous digital worlds can be found in the gaming arena. Hence, we tend to refer to Roblox, Fortnite, and Minecraft when looking for a metaverse example.

These amazing self-contained universes are just the starting point. In essence, the Metaverse is the successor to the mobile internet age that has evolved and prevailed since the iPhone 3G in 2008. It will encompass not just gameplay, but all forms of entertainment, fashion, health and fitness – even work. And most importantly, it will be interoperable so that we can move content, and practically ourselves, seamlessly between digital environments.

Gaming metaverse

Gaming platforms like Roblox are some of the best examples of the metaverse to date as they are microcosms or mini metaverse. They are an ecosystem of thousands of 3D worlds between which you can move your character or avatar, many of which are user generated. You use different hardware and software as entry points (and for computing power) and have a crossplay between them. Payment and communication infrastructure, advertising and in-app purchases are integrated.

Why aren’t they true metaverse? Because they are still proprietary platforms. In media: tech space we often speak of “walled gardens” – today’s gaming environments are like countries with hard borders. A Roblox avatar cannot switch to the Fortnite universe and vice versa. Much less used in other areas of life.

health and fitness

A TD Ameritrade poll last year found that 59% of Americans did not plan to renew their gym membership after Covid. Whether this actually happens, the pandemic has massively accelerated the fitness trend towards the Metaverse.

Peloton was a clear winner with total sales of $ 1.8 billion in 2020; to double his income for 2019. But even Peloton is now trying to develop its own fitness video game to match Playpulse and Zwift, which have popular and collaborative digital fitness platforms. Groups of friends can create avatars and race through digital environments like the very lifelike New York City. Zwift even put together an honestly mind-blowing digital Tour de France in 2020, with webcam feeds from 90 riders combined with a digital tour route with an avatar for each rider that was broadcast live on mainstream French television.

The workplace

Yes, the Metaverse will not only change our game, our contacts and our sweating. It will fundamentally change the way we work. Mark Zuckerberg recently postulated a world in which we all wear VR headsets all day long (I won’t be one of them, thank you Mark anyway). While this particular scenario may seem like an undesirable leap, XR technologies like AR and VR have the potential to improve our communication with colleagues and revolutionize our workflow. The zoom fatigue becomes much less likely if you can be transported to a meeting with colleagues (or their realistic avatars) in the Andean foothills. Dealers can instantly access dozens of information sources without the need for multiple hardware and screen sources.

Events

There are already numerous amazing examples of Metaverse concerts. In April 2020, I had a front row seat with my former team at Spotify, which helped promote and run the now infamous Travis Scott x Fortnite event. During its three-day run, the event drew 12.3 million participants and literally changed the way the game was executed. This model is widespread, and Lil Nas X’s Roblox concert received 33 million views six months later. Ariana Grande also added herself to the Fortnite gig list for her Rift Tour event this month.

During the pandemic, we got used to watching previous personal events as live streams. But there is often little to no real immersion in a simple event broadcast. Billie Eilishs Where are we going? Livestream with XR technology complete with giant spider was a good example of the direction of travel.

Most of us are more used to streaming sporting events than in person, but even this model needs improvement to meet the needs of consumers who are increasingly used to diving in metaverse style. Sky Sports launched its 3D TV offer back in 2010. The idea was brilliant, but the tech just wasn’t up to date. Oculus recently announced its partnership with the NBA, which will allow subscribers to watch games as if they were on the field next to Jay-Z. The acid test for the technology will be how quickly it can recreate these experiences without additional bulky hardware.

Art & Fashion (and NFTs)

Some of the most significant forays into the metaverse have been made by artists and fashion brands, especially where they have experimented with blockchain technology to confirm that the digital artwork or item is unique (creating a non-fungible token, or “NFT”) . Louis Vuitton is even about to launch a mobile game to celebrate its 200th anniversary, with various unnamed NFTs.

But even I, a longtime sneaker collector, wasn’t ready to take the plunge when RTFKT Studios released a collection of 600 pairs of NFT sneakers that grossed a cool $ 3.1 million. Despite the fact that they could be “tried on” in Snap and actually come with a pair of physical sneakers, the real value of such digital assets to me lies in their usefulness, not just their scarcity.

Which is ironic in a way, because we don’t apply the same logic to other art forms. It’s nice to look at, maybe even let us feel emotions, hopefully serves as a store of value. But we can’t use it. Because of this, artists are perfect to be early Metaverse adopters. Damien Hirst, for example, recently published a collection of 10,000 NFT artworks, the physical counterparts of which are believed to have a total value of $ 20 million.

Starting with gamified platforms and experiences, I think predicting a Metaverse apparel marketplace that will become a huge business in itself is not a huge leap forward. Is it even worth going to see Ariana Grande if your avatar can’t look good doing it? Would you rather cycle through a virtual New York City on a normal bike with a safety vest or be dressed in off-white on a Bianchi with a carbon frame? This is where the importance of NFTs to me comes into play. If we are willingly buying digital cosmetics that millions of others can own for $ 15, it stands to reason that we are going to buy limited releases or, take a deep breath, really one-of-a-kind items that we have in our corner of the world Metaverse can bend.

Interoperability

When is the metaverse not the metaverse? When it’s a series of disconnected, standalone digital experiences (or mini-metaverse). Here we are now. Not yet an interoperable digital-physical hybrid universe, but thousands of individual experiences, each of which usually requires a separate account, avatar, payment or hardware as the entry price.

The true metaverse we’re working towards has far fewer points of friction, with realistic avatars that seamlessly transcend any experience thanks to powerful connections, servers, and built-in payments, etc. The functionality will allow us to buy, wear and sell NFT cosmetics not only in a digital property, but in the vastness of the metaverse.

The role of advertising in the metaverse

I have barely scratched the surface of what the Metaverse has in store for us as players, workers, athletes and consumers, let alone talked about the role of advertising in it.

From my point of view the key to make advertising in the metaverse successful and meaningful; it has to be immersive. Not the link to the early days of the Internet (the million dollar homepage) or the “interruption economy” associated with mobile gaming (full-page banners and interstitials), but the use or improvement of the digital environment. The way ahead is exciting. Today we can place ads right in game environments and bring real brands to virtual billboards. The next stop on the journey will be virtual product placement, where fashion, consumer, technology and service brands can appear as skins or in the hands of a gamer’s avatar. Additionally, we’ll see a proliferation of non-gaming environments opening up to brands as well, meaning the promise that the Metaverse is far more than game worlds is becoming a virtual reality.

By Alex Faust, VP EMEA, Admix

(Main Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ready Player Me)

(Image credit: Zwift press kit)

(Photo credit: Louis Vuitton press kit)


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