What is the Metaverse, and What Opportunities Will it Offer to Companies?
What seemed remote just two decades ago is now a reality: the metaverse has become one of the biggest bets for investors in the coming years. Perhaps, for this reason, even cutting-edge technology such as Facebook has recently decided to reinvent itself as Meta.
In total, Bloomberg Intelligence estimates that by 2024 the size of the metaverse market will reach $800 billion.
In this line, investment experts such as those of Fidelity International agree that “investors should pay attention to the metaverse , yes, not immediately, since it will take time for technology to evolve, costs to fall and the metaverse to enjoy a wide acceptance . “
What Is The Metaverse?
To describe the metaverse, a first approximation could be what is recreated in the movie ‘Ready Player One (2018). In Steven Spielberg’s work, a virtual universe is played in which humans transform into avatars to participate in video games of all kinds.
Reality is not so far from fiction: the metaverse is a virtual universe that extends the physical world into a digital one, whether augmented reality, avatars, or virtual interfaces. The only difference, perhaps, is that it doesn’t just cover video games or entertainment in general.
The metaverse we are heading towards is an economic system in itself, in which companies can operate, and anyone can even work.
The metaverse is a virtual universe that extends the physical world into a digital one, whether augmented reality, avatars, or virtual interfaces.
However, the concept of the metaverse is somewhat older. It first appeared in the 1992 novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.
It describes a kind of collective virtual space converging with reality. And, like in ‘Ready Player One,’ the input channel is a pair of glasses that allow you to appear as an avatar in the virtual world.
Transferred to contemporary times, we have seen different expressions of this idea in recent years: from the augmented reality of phenomena such as Pokemon Go to VR glasses to interact with people from all over the world in a virtual environment.
But this is not the first attempt to create a metaverse. Platforms like ‘Second Life’ (2003), born as a virtual space to live a parallel life, already tried it in their day and failed. Essentially, the technology of the time greatly limited the possibilities of interaction.
Perhaps for this reason, although Second Life is still active -and even has an extensive marketplace and its currency- there are currently next-generation video games such as ‘Fortnite’ capable of better reflecting what a supermassive metaverse entails.
The ‘battle royale’ competition is not even the main reason to join anymore. It has become a social phenomenon, with almost unlimited avatar customization and the possibility of even holding concerts online.
The Metaverse Today
But the metaverse envisioned by tech heroes like Mark Zuckerberg is yet to come. At the moment, we are in a phase of laying the foundations for what is to come. For now, several independent initiatives do not constitute a single ecosystem.
Because to talk about the metaverse as such, we would have to have a single platform that acts as a container for all the others, whether entertainment, e-learning, or even economic business.
In addition, as highlighted by the investment manager, « the technology needs improvements before the metaverse can be widely adopted.
Augmented reality headsets need to be commercially viable to improve computing power, battery life, projectors, and frame design.”
In any case, these fragmented initiatives are already beginning to show the potential of the future metaverse. For example, the transition from Facebook to Meta could be the first foundation of what our social relations will be like in a few years.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard opens the door to new scenarios such as mixed reality with devices like the HoloLens.
Lastly, Nvidia’s Omniverse allows users to use their graphics cards to create digital assets and 3D scenes in a shared digital universe.
For Fidelity International analysts, “the possibilities are endless. Consumers can use the viewers to teleport to the Olympics, swap what they see out their window for a Caribbean beach, or box with Mike Tyson.
Likewise, the metaverse will bring the IoT to life and could even issue its own money.”
What Possibilities Does the Metaverse Offer to Companies?
As for companies, although today it is not very widespread, there are already projects located entirely in the metaverse.
We are talking about content creation and companies dedicated to developing blockchain technology that allows decentralizing control of platforms or consultancies responsible for analyzing the legal aspects and GDPR compliance of what happens in the world. Digital universe: from buying and selling virtual land to monetary transactions.
In this sense, what possibilities does the metaverse offer to companies that decide to operate in it?
We have improved customer experience. Some retail giants such as Walmart have been using virtual reality since 2017 so that the customer can ‘try’ the product before buying it. If we transfer this to digital products, its application is practically unlimited.
A step beyond virtual reality.
During the pandemic, some museums, such as El Prado, used virtual visits to avoid losing visitors. Something similar happens with tourism or the real estate sector since the metaverse allows remote places to be explored with a single click—an evolution of marketing and advertising that has yet to be defined.
A Paradigm Shift in Telecommuting
Thanks to a metaverse, it would greatly enhance teleworking, which would greatly improve the likelihood of teleworking. We only have to think of telematic meetings or tasks in the cloud to imagine what we could find in a 100% virtual office.
Demand for new professional profiles. At the same time, the metaverse will require new profiles more focused on software development and content creation. Facebook is already doing, which plans to invest 1,000 million dollars exclusively in Meta this year.
A twist to the entertainment sector. Because leisure, like the audiovisual sector or the ‘gaming’ sector, is already the first market niche within the metaverse and is expected to be the spearhead in the coming years.
In fact, “video games like Fortnite and Roblox have already created metaverses for their players and have held concerts with artists like Ariana Grande,” they affect from Fidelity.
Micropayments and virtual currencies. We have already begun to see it precisely in video games. Still, it could be extended to generate authentic interdependent economic systems in the not too distant future, even with its stock market ecosystem and currency exchanges, who knows if.