Which way to the metaverse

Hype or the next big thing? Opinions differ on the subject of metaverse. One thing is clear: the first brands include it into their strategy.

Like many initially unbelievable-sounding ideas that finally saw the light of day, the term Metaverse can be traced back to a science fiction novel, specifically Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" from 1992, in which people in the form of digital avatars interact with software agents in a three-dimensional virtual world owned by the fictitious company “Global Multimedia Protocol Group”.

Thirty years later, the idea of the Metaverse still electrifies - but not driven by the "Global Multimedia Protocol Group," but announcements and investments by very real technology companies, such as Facebook, Microsoft or Epic Games.

What happened?

A virus, decentralized work and the triumph of blockchain

Without a doubt, the global Corona pandemic that started in late 2019 with social distancing measures has been a precursor for decentralized working and digital communication tools. Prior to that, blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies were already making their triumphant debut, making it possible, among other things, to give digital assets a unique fingerprint so that they can now be traded online as desirable NFTs.

All of this, combined with the gaming industry, which has been booming for decades and has demonstrated how to successfully sell digital avatar equipment to online users, makes the idea of the Metaverse look increasingly attractive to the world's tech multi-billionaires.

The most important event, as it seems, for the recent hype occurred in October 2021, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook to be renamed Meta Platforms Inc. The parent company also owns virtual reality hardware maker Oculus and digital wallet Novi.

Just as importantly, however, it seems that the American North Carolina-based software manufacturer and gaming giant Epic Games is just as actively working toward the goal of establishing a Metaverse. Epic Games' products include not only the 3D engine Unreal, but also the extremely popular survival shooter Fortnite. The latter created such an attractive artificial environment, which was enriched with user-generated content and became the trading place and communication space for many enthusiastic gamers.

So does Fortnite anticipate the Metaverse in some way? Probably not.

Why online games and virtual reality are only a glimpse of the metaverse

Sure: Games like Fortnite or virtual reality environments contain elements that could conceivably be part of a future Metaverse. However, the vision that the big tech companies are pursuing goes far beyond that.

A Metaverse would even go far beyond today's Internet. One can speak of a digital, virtual world, which is a perfect counterpart to the physical world. This means that the Metaverse is constantly expandable and in development, it is populated day and night by people or avatars and could even have its own economic and trading system. All innovations are permanently synchronized, which means an immense amount of computing power.

When will the metaverse be (virtual) reality?

To put it bluntly, it will probably be years, if not decades, before an actual Metaverse will be a reality. As Matthew Ball points out in his article "The Metaverse: What It Is, Where to Find it, and Who Will Build It" this has to do primarily with the fact that for such an immense experience as the Metaverse would represent, entirely new technological standards would have to be created that would make it for everyone possible both to enter the Metaverse easily and to design the shared virtual space. This can be roughly compared to today's Internet standards, which have also evolved over decades.

However, the lack of common technologies and standards does not mean that it is not useful to look already now at the first attempts to get closer to the Metaverse.

On platforms such as Decentralland, Somnium Space or Sandbox, users can already enter virtual worlds with their avatars, buy plots of land on which they construct buildings or make experiences available.

This is also where things get interesting for brands. In 2021, Nike announced its nikeland on the roblox platform. And in 2022, we saw a few more brands drawn to Metaverse. For example, Samsung opened its first virtual Experience Center 837X in Decentralland. Here, users can participate in NFT raffles or experience live music events.

How can your brand prepare for the metaverse?

Not every brand is suitable for opening a store or even an experience center in Decentralland. Still, the question remains: How can we bridge the gap until the Metaverse becomes reality for everyone? Which steps are already preparing companies and brands for this?

Even if the Metaverse is not yet a reality, it is important for companies and brands to create a strategy for activities in virtual spaces and building virtual communities. The first steps in this direction can be taken by implementing virtual brand spaces on the Web. These are available to customers and stakeholders 24/7 for brand engagement, information and purchase of products and services.

As in the large Metaverse experience, visitors move through the virtual brand space as avatars, can visit various product and information stations, interact or direct inquiries to the company.

These small brand universes help companies and brands gain initial experience in building virtual communities and providing them with informative and entertaining content.

Recordbay supports companies and brands in gaining experience with virtual brand spaces and building their individual strategies on the way to the Metaverse. Through our partner software V, we make any digital experience maintainable through an intuitive CMS and the content shown in it updateable in all parts.

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