As it stands, the metaverse is more of a concept than an actual place. It’s described as an immersive online experience that merges the physical and digital worlds, an extension of the internet and social networking. Although its parameters haven’t been tested and its full potential yet to be realised, it’s certain to revolutionize what it means to live in a global society.
Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel, Snow Crash, introduced the world to “the metaverse” in 1992. It’s a portmanteau, merging ‘meta’, meaning after or across, and ‘universe’.
Stephenson’s term refers to an alternate, virtual reality accessed via state-of-the-art tech goggles (much like VR headsets) where people interact through avatars. At one point, the author describes two young couples escaping their parents to sneak a double date in the metaverse.
Fast forward nearly thirty years from Snow Crash’s publication and Facebook has rebranded as Meta, signalling a shift in its business model and confidence in the virtual world’s emerging economy. The metaverse may seem stranger than fiction right now, but it could revolutionize the way we live, learn, work, and, yes, there will be avatar-based dating.
While we’re in the early days of adoption, much of the media’s metaverse coverage has been about the potential for immersive gaming experiences. That’s thanks to the success of VR and the introduction of an inclusive play-to-earn model that’s finally giving all gamers a way to have fun while being financially rewarded for their hobby. But it doesn’t stop at gaming. The opportunities are endless.
As a work in progress, we’re yet to see an all-encompassing, interconnected metaverse akin to the one described in Stephenson’s novel. There are currently many different unconnected metaverses, each platform typically focusing on a specific industry like sports, gaming, or fashion.
Like in Stephenson’s metaverse, the core technology enabling the immersive experience is virtual reality (VR); alongside AR (augmented reality), XR (extended reality), and MR (mixed reality). In fact, those technologies are so central to the metaverse that experts anticipate total VR/AR spending to exceed $72 billion in 2024, up from $12 billion in 2020.
Citi estimates that, by 2030, around 5 billion users will be in the metaverse, creating space for a $8 to $13 trillion market. Bloomberg is more conservative, though still optimistic, estimating that market opportunity in the metaverse, valued at $479bn in 2020, will almost double to $800bn by 2024.
Given current metaverse adoption rates, those projections may seem out of proportion, but it’s important to compare against the rapid rise of smartphone ownership.
Less than ten years after their introduction, smartphones were adopted by over half the global population, proving cost isn’t such a hurdle in the path of mass adoption.
However, that’s exactly what Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, claimed following the first iPhone unveiling, costing approximately $500 in 2007. It’s also an argument that’s been levelled at companies expanding into the metaverse. Although becoming less expensive, state-of-the-art equipment, like VR headsets, still come at a price.
Microsoft and Meta have pivoted to accommodate metaverse expansion, with Meta dedicated a whopping $10bn to investments in 2021 alone. The reason why the metaverse is such an exciting prospect, with huge profit potential, is that it sells the same idea as smartphones did: connectivity.
Your geographic location is no longer an obstacle to communication. COVID-19 lockdowns proved that staying in touch with friends, relatives, and professional colleagues is still possible with modern video technology.
In the metaverse of Stephenson’s novel, teleportation isn’t possible and movement is restricted according to real world physics. Our shared metaverse, however, is a virtual landscape that replicates the real world while enabling instantaneous travel. People located in disparate parts of the world can socialize and experience ‘face-to-face’ communication by controlling 3D holographic avatars that meet in a virtual space.
It’s the ideal site to explore the potential of global interconnectivity.
Educators are already using the metaverse for immersive virtual learning experiences and school trips. StoryTrails, for example, is offering a historic tour of the UK using VR to recreate people and places from the past. The same technology is revolutionizing the entertainment industry and offering artists new revenue streams.
Industry big-hitters like Epic Games and Roblox have already started using their games to host live concerts and events. Rapper and early metaverse endorser Travis Scott hosted a virtual concert in partnership with Riot Games and Fortnite. For in-game virtual merchandise as well as brand sponsorships, total revenue from the event is estimated at a staggering $20 million.
It’s no surprise that the metaverse entertainment industry is expected to grow by almost $29 billion in the next four years. Eyeing fresh revenue streams, big brand names like Nike, Gucci, and Coca-Cola have all followed suit by investing in metaverse projects.
The metaverse remains a fresh concept and, while the parameters of this virtual space continue to shift, one thing’s for certain: it’s poised to change the way we live, work, and play.
MetaLOX combines the potential of the metaverse, NFTs, and DeFi. People from across the globe can customize their unique avatars and interact in a futuristic multi-planet virtual universe. Generating wealth by mining resources or working on space expeditions, in addition to collecting assets, users can earn their own plots of land and, eventually, their own planets.
MetaLOX is designed to satisfy three key user needs — play, earn and socialize. To find out more about MetaLOX and follow our progress, click here.