Mark Zukerberg and Satya Nadella say it’s the future of the internet.
The Metaverse refers to a blend between Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). It enables users to interact in real-time. It’s free to enter, and this “virtual world” will continue to exist and evolve even if you aren’t roaming inside it. Additionally, owning a VR or AR gadget is not the singular requirement to access the Metaverse. It can be accessed via a smartphone too. However, the experience won’t be as immersive.
The Metaverse is still very much being built, and will be for many many years to come. At this stage it’s fragmented and lacks coherence. The space demands deep consideration before a leap is taken into the space as a business looking for opportunity.
This isn’t to say however that there’s no opportunity in this new world. Meta, Nike, Dominos, Microsoft, Epic Gamesa, Snapchat have all signed up and are making plays. So, does it make sense that you should also start considering the Metaverse? Could it help your business grow?
Who’s taking the Metaverse seriously and is the tech ready?
Meta, Roblox, Microsoft, Adobe Systems, Nike, Sandbox, Snap (Snapchat), Shopify, Fortnite, Minecraft, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, and YouTube are all building metaverses.
A full blown metaverse still looks to be years away. There remains a list of technical challenges to overcome, starting with the primary obstacle that the world doesn’t have the online infrastructure to sustain millions (or even billions) of people all using the metaverse at the same time. A critical element of the metaverse is fast, reliable internet connectivity. Glitchy or stunted loading in VR is a long way from where the metaverse experience is meant to be. Emerging tech such as 5G and edge computing while still under ongoing development and roll out, will provide assistance here, over time. There are also data privacy and security challenges to be addressed.
Some tech experts envision Metaverse as another economy where users can buy, sell, and trade using digital currency, with experiences akin to how we presently do it in our everyday lives.
As more and more businesses see the opportunities available to the industry. The Metaverse will become more commonplace, with greater uptake, and more transactions being processed within it. Some believe it will become a whole self-serving economy of itself.
Business opportunities in the Metaverse
While the big businesses above are trying to develop a viable solution to launch a linked Metaverse, it does not mean you have to wait. There’s opportunity for you and your business right now in the Metaverse.
Meetings with a difference
The pandemic ushered in working from home and remote working policies. Going a step further, there’s a school of thought that video meetings could be held in the Metaverse. Transcending the current 2D means across MS Teams, Zoom etc.
Build a pizza shop
Yes, you can buy a pizza in the Metaverse. And you can have it delivered to your actual home. There’s a few operators offering this in Dencentraland. Visit one of the virtual stores, place an order with digital currency and wait for delivery to your real world home. This of course isn’t restricted to pizza. Other stores can be built too, with orders made in VR and delivered in reality.
Virtual concerts and entertainment
The Metaverse has offered an alternative (with great early success) to real-life concerts, where well known performers such as Marshmello, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Lil Nas X, and Galantis have performed on the virtual platforms Wave, Fortnite, and Roblox.
Travis Scott’s recent metaverse concert drew a crowd of 27.7 million unique players in-game, producing a huge and immersive experience.
Interactive training and simulations
Today, there are already simulators for pilots, doctors, heavy equipment operators, and racetrack drivers. The problem is that these are highly exclusive. The associated costs prohibit access to a significant portion of the population.
You can find business opportunities in the Metaverse by developing interactive VR or AR training modules. In effect, you help people absorb the information better by inserting them into “real-life” scenarios without taking on the risks.
Virtual real estate
Forget virtual tours. You can now buy and sell virtual property in the metaverse. The “big four” platforms (Sandbox, Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, & Somnium) topped $500 million in real estate sales last year, and that’s predicted to double this year. There’s plenty of scepticism about virtual property purchases, because obviously real land is hard to some by and is a finite resource, whereas virtual land can be created with a bit of coding, hence supply (and value) questions abound.
Each piece of land in the metaverse is unique. Secured by a non-fungible token (NFT), offering proof of ownership. Your virtual real estate NFT ensures your ownership, giving you the ability to sell it at a future date, along with all transaction records for the land.
There’s opportunity with commercial property in the metaverse. It can be rented out for events, or can even be used for billboard advertising. There are some creative opportunities here.
NFTs allowed people to buy digital clothes and other assets. But the Metaverse offers another business opportunity if you can innovatively transform your online shop into an immersive experience. For instance, a shopper orders a pair of shoes from your online store. You can also sell an identical digital pair they can use on their avatar in a video game.
We are currently living through the very initial stages of the Metaverse. However, there’s no doubt about the significant opportunity available to those willing to take the leap and explore what’s possible for business. The Metaverse is offering companies the chance to transform everything. How to interact with customers, new methods of delivering products and services, production and distribution frameworks, creative operations, and more.
Nathan Sinnott is a tech geek, entrepreneur and CEO of full-service digital agency, Newpath Web.