What Should Entrepreneurs & Investors Know About The Metaverse?
In any conversation about the future of social media recently you might have heard the term “metaverse”. As earth’s billionaires look predominantly to space, some are instead focussing on creating a new universe; an experience accessible for the masses, available from your living room.
In 2021, the worlds of cryptocurrency, online gaming and social media are gravitating towards each other, like pieces of a puzzle, to create a virtually liveable landscape. But what does it all mean and what should entrepreneurs and investors know about the trend?
A Metaverse is best described as a 3D living space on the internet. Part of the virtual reality trend, the Metaverse is capable of being a social space, a place for concerts, a place to play and much more. Most crucially, it is an active space; it can be navigated and explored.
However, the term Metaverse was coined before social media existed. Fiction writer Neal Stephenson used the Metaverse in his 1992 sci-fi novel “Snow Crash” to describe a convergence of the physical, augmented and virtual realms in one shared space.
Contrast this to a recent interview with The Verge, where Mark Zuckerberg talked about the potential for the metaverse to supersede social media: “We’re basically mediating our lives and our communication through these small, glowing rectangles. I think that that’s not really how people are made to interact…
“What virtual and augmented reality can do, and what the metaverse broadly is going to help people experience, is a sense of presence that I think is just much more natural in the way that we’re made to interact”.
What is piecing this world together?
It is very likely that your own children have had more exposure to the metaverse than you. It has been forming right under our noses, beginning to exist within video games like Fortnite, and being implemented on social media, within Facebook Horizon for example. Combined with the rise of cryptocurrency and NFTs, we are left with a world designed for social interaction and entertainment with its own functioning economy and bespoke items.
Events in the Metaverse
The creators at Fortnite have been pioneering events in their Metaverse, recently hosting an Ariana Grande gig for players. The “Rift Tour” event saw the singer perform five in-game shows over three days with players following the show through magical worlds in bubbles and on rainbow unicorns – yes, you read that correctly.
This was not Fortnite’s first show in the metaverse, they also hosted rapper Travis Scott in a similar event in 2020 and British band Easy Life.
Other notable partners have also entered the metaverse. Megan Thee Stallion signed an agreement with AmazeVR, a virtual reality company that specialises in immersive experiences with artists. AmazeVR users can experience the musical metaverse through haptic motion chairs and VR headsets at home. These real life products have inspired sci-fi blockbusters like Ready Player One.
Why Should Investors Be Interested In The Metaverse?
Everyday the sector is growing, with the global market expected to reach $280 billion by 2025; increasing by six times compared to 2020. This market forecast reflects the interest in such companies bringing metaverse inventions to users attention, which intersects with a world spent indoors and a rise in technological capabilities available to innovators.
The CEO of Manticore Games, a company founded in 2016 which recently raised $100 million for user-generated games this year, has said that investor attention is increasing in the metaverse due to many factors: “What has really helped, quite frankly, is not just COVID and the explosion of gaming activity but also Roblox going IPO, Unity going IPO,” he said. “All of a sudden, these amazing models are there for all people to see, not just those in gaming.”
Indeed to support this, Mark Zuckerberg has even told his investors that the metaverse is “going to be the successor to the internet”; global innovators are ready to create new worlds and investors should be aware of this.
How close are we to a Metaverse world?
As aforementioned, the components to a metaverse world are existing separately and gradually coming together. However, experts say that computers are not proficient enough to support this integrated metaverse just yet, Digiday says that: “worldwide networking and computing capabilities are not yet capable of supporting a persistent digital world that can be experienced in real-time by millions of concurrent users”. Whilst it may be internet 2.0, the reality of its mass adoption might be a while away.
The Metaverse has been described as the successor of the internet and, with the backing of billionaires and talented game designers, it could very well be.
Technical problems aside, the only rival to the metaverse is life itself. The Metaverse has its own rules, culture and economic law, it becomes a reality within another. Its future depends on its uptake and how much we come to value virtual interaction over physical interaction going forward.
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Header Image: Ariana Grande has toured in Fortnite showing the increased attention in the metaverse, of which investors should take note. Image via Epic Games.