The term “metaverse” has recently become a catchall phrase to describe a currently-undefined enhanced online environment that combines virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). The term got under everyone’s radar when Facebook rebranded itself as Meta and announced plans to invest $10 billion in the concept in October 2021. Other companies known to have invested in the technology include Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Qualcomm. McKinsey predicts that investment in the metaverse landscape could reach $5 trillion by 2030, so the topic is definitely worth your attention.
Where are we going to see metaverse applications? E-commerce is expected to be its dominant engine, followed by gaming, entertainment, and education. Today, companies use the term “metaverse” to refer to many different types of environments – for example, online video games like Fortnite, virtual workplaces like Microsoft’s Mesh or Meta’s Horizon Workspace, virtual dressing rooms like the one at Ikea and operating rooms for surgery like those developed by AccuHealth Inc.
The combination of enthusiasm for the metaverse and fear about how the technology will pan out has sparked a backlash from some industry observers. Many people question if the metaverse will, in the end, be much different from the digital experiences we have today. Others argue that while the metaverse still has fundamental technical barriers, it will eventually roll around and become a huge industry. Metaverse is one of the most highly anticipated technology evolutions of the decade to come.
What does the growth of the metaverse mean for the gaming industry? How will it shape the future of gaming? Read on to get these questions answered and learn more about the impact of the metaverse on gaming.
What is metaverse?
The metaverse is a vision of the next iteration of the internet: a single, shared and immersive 3D virtual space where humans get to experience life in ways they can’t in the physical world. Some technologies that provide access to this virtual world – like virtual reality (VR) headsets and augmented reality (AR) glasses – are evolving at a much faster pace than ever before. Other key components of the metaverse are probably years off or might never materialize.
The metaverse is a digital universe that delivers immersive, out-of-the-world experiences. Users will be able to use it to study, connect, work, earn money, and attend concerts and meetings virtually.
The concept is nothing new. The author Neal Stephenson coined the term metaverse in his 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash. The work on technologies that underpin a virtual reality-based internet dates back decades too.
Does the metaverse work?
The metaverse is envisioned to become a digital ecosystem created using various kinds of 3D technology, VR and AR, real-time collaboration software, and even blockchain-based decentralized finance tools.
Since there are no metaverse applications available today, we can only imagine what a metaverse product will look like and how it will work. The future functionalities of metaverse products will be based on factors such as the degree of interoperability across virtual worlds, data portability, governance, and user interfaces.
One expert painted three possible scenarios for the advancement of the metaverse:
– The metaverse might remain a domain of niche applications consumers use for entertainment and gaming – it won’t become an all-encompassing virtual reality.
– In another scenario, the metaverse will become mainstream and be controlled by large competing ecosystems with limited interoperability.
– Finally, there’s always the possibility that once it goes mainstream, the metaverse will become a dynamic and interoperable space – like the internet, only in 3D.
How to access the metaverse?
Two technologies that have already transformed the way many people interact with the world will play a role in metaverse access, too: virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
Virtual reality is a simulated 3D environment that allows users to interact with virtual surroundings in a way that approximates reality as perceived via our senses. Haptics technologies include gloves, vests, and full-body tracking suits, opening the door to more lifelike interaction with the virtual environment.
Augmented reality is considered less immersive than VR. It gives users digital overlays on top of the real world through a lens of some type. Users can keep on interacting with their real-world environment. The game Pokémon Go is a great early example of augmented reality. Google Glass displays in car windshields are well-known consumer AR products.
How Metaverse will change the gaming world
In a study by Ernst & Young, 97% of executives said they believed that the gaming industry is at the core of the metaverse development. And 48% of them think that the metaverse would change business models for virtual gaming businesses and drive revenue while also giving brands new opportunities to build relationships with their customers.
The metaverse is conceptualized as a shared digital platform that connects global customers with one another through a virtual world. Businesses looking to invest in the metaverse will leverage modern technologies such as 3D reconstruction, AR and VR, the Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence to develop powerful future versions of their gaming apps.
The vision of Metaverse is to create realistic online interactions by redefining the future of content ownership, online interactions, and online gaming. In many cases, the metaverse might end up implementing Decentralized Finance solutions such as tokens.
One good example is one of our potential customers. The company developed a game similar to Counter-Strike, only with one difference – after the user’s avatar gets killed, they get tokens in exchange for all the time they spent playing the game. This mechanism is bound to increase the gamer’s engagement and add a new element to the already fun experience.
Metaverse use cases in gaming
Metaverse gaming will take place in a virtual environment that can transform various aspects of the real world. Virtual reality can potentially touch far more verticals in gaming than augmented reality. The metaverse leverages virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) to provide a more seamless experience.
Gaming in the metaverse may incorporate mixed reality, where users move from a typical group text in AR to an MR board game to a full-fledged metaverse virtual reality world in a seamless workflow.
The metaverse is also inherently social, providing players with a social environment where they can build relationships with other players inside the game. Multi-player gaming will enter another level when players can invite friends from the real world, interact with other players, build relationships, etc. This is one of the crucial elements of gaming in the metaverse.
Players may also use the metaverse apps to engage in profitable activities besides following linear storytelling and rules. These can involve trading activities like selling assets to other players for crypto game tokens.
The interoperable architecture of the Metaverse could allow for asset portability. Portions of games or other virtual environments could be moved between platforms, and rules governing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) would govern persistent ownership.
The future of metaverse and gaming
The primary focus of gaming is immersive gameplay, but the power of the metaverse combined with blockchain technology could result in a new aspect of revenue generation. Specifically, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), portable game assets, and advanced levels of immersive gameplay would make gaming and the metaverse a new gaming era.
Although the metaverse is just in its infancy, we can already tell how it will transform the internet by creating a new approach to accomplishing things and increasing our access to data. It also has some drawbacks, such as putting too much control into the hands of one company or person, as well as creating a platform for digitalizing currencies or assets, which could be good or bad depending on who controls them. A big selling point for both developers and gamers alike is the potential for creating revenue.
The metaverse is probably on top of the list when considering what could shape our near future, given its potential for shaping our online interactions in both work and play environments.