Metaverse. The latest trending buzzword you must have come across one way or the other. What is it really, and what does it mean to you? A new economy? A descendent of the internet? A futuristic concept of the universe? A new digital environment that blurs the line between physical and virtual reality?
Well, it is all of that and a lot more. There isn’t a single, universally accepted explanation for the concept of Metaverse, perhaps Facebook’s definition gives us the fundamental insight into it,
“A set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you. You’ll be able to hang out with friends, work, play, learn, shop, create, and more. It’s not necessarily about spending more time online — it’s about making the time you do spend online more meaningful.”
As of today, Metaverse is a progressing concept taking its first steps towards development. It is anticipated to provide a digital reality platform that would eliminate the limitation of accessing only one virtual platform at a time. The ideology, however, might seem familiar if you’ve ever used AR or VR with a digital avatar, owned an NFT (Non-fungible token), or even some bit of crypto, you’re already close to the metaverse.
While various aspects of this ecosystem have been conceptualized, the exact amount of resources that will be required is unknown. According to research by Bloomberg Intelligence, opportunities in Metaverse were valued at approximately $500 billion in 2020 and are expected to reach $800 billion by 2024, with the sudden acceleration in the industry’s development.
The progression of the Metaverse industry will expand from gaming and entertainment to the introduction of political and economic systems that will connect to the physical world. Metaverse will incorporate Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and other trending technologies to form rich, interconnected online worlds, where people can socialize and function with the use of AR glasses, VR headsets, smartphones apps, or other devices.
Video Gaming Platforms:
Though the term ‘Metaverse’ has recently started trending, the initial concept emerged decades ago, by Neal Stephenson in his classic novel ‘Snowcrash’ in 1992, which was far beyond a single video gaming platform. To add to that, popular video-conferencing tools and video games like Fortnite (Epic Games), Roblox, and Animal Crossing (Nintendo) have had similar metaverse tendencies for years. These platforms offer 3D environments where people come together to socialize, create, work, and entertain.
Blockchain Virtual Worlds:
Within the past couple of years, several blockchain metaverse projects have come into existence including Decentraland, CryptoVoxels, Somnium Space, and The Sandbox. Though they are known as metaverse projects, it is wise to note that none of them alone can be considered as a Metaverse, these projects alone are the layers that combine to form the Metaverse as we know it.
Apart from video games, since the onset of the pandemic, several startups began popping up in the AR/VR sector, offering virtual workspace tools such as Teeoh, Loom.ai (by Roblox), and Gather.town which come very close to the Metaverse ideology. Decades before that, the leading 3D virtual world Second Life came into existence, promising evolution in the industry.
Social Media & Tech Giants:
Social media giants, tech companies, and video gaming companies are all competing to get to the forefront of this high growth-potential industry. To set an example, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook (renamed Meta), is taking the lead and has prioritized building the Metaverse, investing heavily in Facebook’s Oculus VR headsets, and $50 million in non-profit groups to responsibly build the metaverse. Zuckerberg is also focused on developing VR apps and platforms, for work and entertainment, that also interact with the real world. Companies including Microsoft, Nvidia, and Roblox have not been shy to show their interest in the concept. Microsoft’s mixed-reality device Hololens takes us one step closer to Metaversatality, meanwhile, Nvidia has the industry’s largest holding, currently followed by Microsoft, Roblox, Tencent, Unity, and Autodesk.
All in all, the Metaverse evolution has begun, and it’s only going to grow from here. Tech giants, social media platforms, video gaming giants, and AR/VR companies are ahead of the game, investing heavily in resources as they anticipate the industry’s progression. At the end of the day, the question remains how far will companies go in adopting the Metaverse technology, and how long will it take us, as individuals, to embrace it?