The story of the internet is quite an interesting one. From dial-up connections to high-speed gigabyte fiber, the dot-com era, to the TikTok era, its evolution has been revolutionary and inevitable. We are now on the brink of something huge. The internet is getting ready for its next upgrade — Metaverse, and it all starts with an idea!
What is the Metaverse?
In simple words, Metaverse is the next version of the internet. Imagine a 3d virtual world with ever-evolving aspects, a unique terminology, which its inhabitants collectively share. It is all about the journey; there is no finite end goal here. Users can craft personalized life experiences in a mega virtual environment.
Imagine a second world, albeit virtual and with real-time events and an online infrastructure — like a session of players in a PvP game! In theory, it encapsulates everything happening now into its world and will bring real-time events and updates going forward!
The user exists in a virtual world without borders, and there are no abrupt transitions requiring logging off and signing in. Metaverse will be a platform-agnostic experience and a seamless one at that.
Before you dismiss this as another overhyped over-the-top, Hollywood science fiction concept, tech giants have already set in motion the progress for this process, with Facebook and Epic leading the pack.
We have seen the age of AOL messenger and dial-up connections when checking your email was THE trend. We saw LAN parties where people carried their bulky personal computers to play an online game. The internet was still in its infancy. Over the years, multiple elements evolved, changing everything drastically.
Then came the age of social media, kickstarted by Facebook. The whole dynamic of online interaction, behavior, and shopping transformed into what we see today. In every reformatory evolution, there are adapters and naysayers. Facebook is one of the first movers to envision the future state of the internet, that is Metaverse.
Facebook redefined the social media advertising concept with their Facebook business and Marketplace. Metaverse is more of a revolutionary concept than an evolutionary one.
Metaverse is not an overly ambitious or improbable concept. Millions of people already lead somewhat of a second life in virtual worlds playing their favorite games. A separate user-populated virtual world, powered by augmented reality and cloud, is at the helm of Metaverse. The virtual world would be populated with digital avatars that are user-created and personalized.
It may sound overly ambitious and out of bounds, like all groundbreaking technologies were at some point. Still, multiple factors steer the idea in favor of the metaverse world being a real possibility.
The Pandemic Aftermath
The Covid 19 pandemic brought the world to its heels and shifted the dynamic of everyday life for people. While it has been a testing time for many, it also normalized the work-from-home culture, virtually connecting with team members across multiple countries and continents.
Would this have been possible if the pandemic had occurred ten years back?
It is not even a topic to be debated. The internet infrastructure and cloud competency backing the workforce worldwide and the billions of servers today are far more sophisticated and at the bleeding edge of technology, the luxury of which was simply not available to humanity a decade ago.
Zoom calls and Team meetings have become a norm, and multiple organizations worldwide have allowed their employees to work from home permanently, thanks to the robust possibility of tech infrastructure in place today.
What began as a preventive measure to drastically reduce the impact of the plague became a matter of convenience and a practical business decision.
Facebook, now Meta, which set the stepping stone for what has evolved as social media today, is also one of the early organizations to envision the ‘Metaverse.’ While Facebook started as a social media platform and today may have a professional marketplace, Metaverse aims to be leaps and bounds above this.
In a recent interview, Mark Zuckerberg talked about his vision of the ideal Metaverse and its intricate details.
The Holy Union of Physical and Virtual Worlds
While many rushed to the conclusion that Metaverse may make everything virtual, Facebook’s vision is different and unique.
Case in point — the way we interact with the internet today. Our life has evolved into an always-online aspect, from work, socializing, playing video games, and banning and grocery shopping.
But that does not mean the internet has replaced anything; it has just enabled our life, making it a little easier. You can order anything from basic groceries to even a Tesla with just a couple of clicks on your smartphone.
The Metaverse just aims to enhance the experience and provide the user an active role that is realistic and highly involved. A virtual dance party, concert, or even a meeting will be more immersive, with an interactable environment providing a dynamic experience.
The Role of Virtual Reality Tech
It is easy to dismiss the concept of Metaverse as nothing but a fad, a trend that will fade out, but Facebook has had this vision a long time back. The acquisition of Oculus in 2014 shows that it was not just a casual business move but a foresight into the next big-tech phenomenon.
While it is debatable that the Virtual Reality concept has not made as much impact in gaming as projected, it may finally get the break it deserves.
With Metaverse, Virtual Reality will be a part of the whole experience, not just gaming.
Gaming giants like Epic have already explored the concept of Metaverse. Fortnite offered Metaverse-like events in-game for player experience and engagement. These events became smashing hits, breaking the online social gaming experience; this is just a glimpse into the future.
The online gaming culture is a norm now, and even veteran developers like Rockstar have seen astronomical success in GTA Online even after eight years of its release. The best scope for Metaverse’s inception is in gaming.
Imagine game characters, not as a 2d or 3d model inside a screen, but a hologram sitting in front of you discussing business! Sports games will require actual effort; just pressing a few buttons will not do! It will make for a realistic, involving, and interactive experience, the next best thing to a real-life stadium play. Is Metaverse another exclusive gaming feature?
Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard is another significant variable in the metaverse equation. Microsoft is already instrumental in the ‘multiverse of gaming’ by owning multiple game studios and leveraging the ownership to offer exclusive titles in their game pass. So, in a way, Microsoft may be on the verge of creating their version of the gaming metaverse! While it is an exciting prospect, only time will tell!
More than Just Gaming
Epic showed its version of the Metaverse, albeit with a sneak peek in the form of a concert by the American rapper Travis Scott which garnered an attendance of over 12 million players online!
Sure, gaming is the best contender for the debut of Metaverse. It is an area with multiple options for the tech’s features to shine.
But Metaverse is more than gaming. It is a bridge between the world and a virtual environment which will be a layer on top.
Connectivity is a significant barrier that has plagued us in the past. Reaching out to people across the world was not an easy affair. The internet made it more accessible, while Web 2.0 redefined the game. Web 3.0 will revolutionize it.
We are in a generation of apps and push notifications, where content gets shared across the web. You, as an individual, are at the receiving end.
With Metaverse, you are at the center stage. The internet is a virtual planet populated by content for you to explore, interact and consume. Virtual communities, activities, events, all seamlessly accessible without the need to login to multiple apps for a user-centric approach, is a crucial aspect of Metaverse that will work in its favor.
You can sign in to your virtual office as a virtual avatar yourself, go for a break, speak to your friend from IT (Information Technology), and explore the game room for a round of foosball. Meet a client, all in one virtual location — seamlessly transitioning into the next step without intrusive discrepancies. You do all this while sitting in the comfort of your home, not having to take the subway or drive for 2 hours to work in traffic. We are almost halfway there, with the pandemic confining us to our homes for work. But the Metaverse will take it to another level.
Think seamless cross-platform interaction with your friends across the world. Cross-platform play is in its infancy, even in the gaming industry. Cross-platform interaction will be the gold standard for seamless worldwide interaction. Addresses and Pin codes will not matter as much!
In-World Advertising Will Define Brands
With the Metaverse, the virtual Marketplace will become an industry norm. Brands will transform their advertising, making them a memorable experience rather than the intrusive pop-ups and forced ads we see today.
Metaverse will see the Implementation of in-world ads, drastically different from the in-game ads we commonly see.
With in-world ads, the advertisements will be smartly positioned to attract user attention. Users will voluntarily interact with the ad making it more effective and immersive, as opposed to the distractive immersion-breaking ads of today.
What’s different is the way one interacts with these in-world ads. Imagine an event inside a game, where the player must perform an activity as a challenge, which is significant to the product advertisement. Every gamer loves an impromptu challenge with some goodies as an outcome. The significance here is players will get personalized, immersive ads based on their digital footprint and interests, meaning different challenges providing a dynamic in-world ad experience.
Top brands like H&M have already opened their virtual store inside the Metaverse, offering users a 3d shopping space to try out the merchandise digitally. They can also order merchandise using the CEEK cryptocurrency. Brands like Adidas and Nike have also followed suit, and with time there will only be an increase in businesses venturing into the virtual world!
Metaverse is conceptualizing into a reality, accompanied by its own set of challenges, as with any bleeding-edge technology. While technological constraints are always there, privacy concerns are hard to ignore.
One more concern is the concept of currency in the virtual world. Cryptocurrency comes with its baggage & regulations, and once it becomes a mainstream currency, there will be further complications. The government’s involvement may change the whole dynamic of the Metaverse.
But the prospect of Metaverse is enticing. With billions of dollars poured into the project and the world moving one more step closer to the virtual sphere as we enter the third year of the pandemic, it is hard to ignore the probability of Metaverse being a norm one day in the future.
One thing is for sure- we are in a period to witness one of the biggest technological revolutions of the internet!
Interested in what industry experts think about the Metaverse? Our event — How AI is transforming Gaming, Media and Entertainment, will give you all the answers!