The timelines of the physical and virtual realms have converged in the three-dimensional immersive environment of the metaverse, an evolving basket of technologies with an evolving definition.
It is estimated that the metaverse could create revenue opportunities of up to USD 800 billion by 2024, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. This makes it the most sought-after future technology by governments, Big Tech, transnational corporations, and the uber-rich.
But is the metaverse just a fancy word for virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR) experiences, or can your brand actually use it to create engaging digital worlds with refreshing new content, interactivity elements and marketplaces for your customers?
Before answering that question, let's learn a bit more about the metaverse and its use cases.
Wired.com called the metaverse "a broad and often speculative shift in how we interact with technology". The metaverse is not a technology by itself; it is a real-time, continuous, immersive technology built on secure blockchain technology, aided by VR/AR headsets, sensor-based mixed reality, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), utility tokens, and cryptocurrencies.
Metaverses can be built using different programming languages. One of the most exciting languages is metametalang, which promises interoperability amongst different worlds. By allowing users to move between different metaverses, the developers of metametalang have addressed a long-standing systemic weakness associated with the ecosystem.
Gaming is the top segment in the metaverse, and will be a USD 400 billion market by 2024. The next big opportunity is in live entertainment – concerts, films, sports, brand launches, and festive celebrations –where revenues may exceed USD 200 billion by 2024. Social media platforms will be major users as well.
But that hasn't stopped companies in fields as diverse as automobiles, ecommerce, retail, travel, and others from getting on to the metaverse bandwagon.
The metaverse offers a huge canvas for creators and brands to engage audiences. From hosting live performances in virtual worlds to buying and selling virtual land or NFTs, and letting people play games, shop online, or interact with brand ambassadors and celebrities, exciting possibilities are unfolding by the day.
World over, artists such as Snoop Dogg, Marshmello, Ariana Grande, and Justin Bieber started the trend of metaverse virtual performance to reach record audiences. American rapper Snoop Dogg has built SnoopVerse. Aficionados can have a virtual peek into their lives via a virtual tour of the property, hold virtual concerts, and sell virtual land parcels, physical merchandise, and NFT collection. Recently, Snoop Dogg sold a land parcel in SnoopVerse for USD 450,000. People are willing to pay premium prices for land parcels which are near celebrities. Like in the real world, investors are approaching virtual real estate with a location bias.
In 2020, rapper Travis Scott's virtual musical concert on the popular game Fortnite, including replays, reached 27.7 million unique gamers who attended the event 45.8 million times. His other Fortnite performance earned him USD 20 million for a ten-minute performance. It also earned Scott a contract with Sony as a 'strategic creative partner' for the PlayStation 5 brand.
It's not just entertainers who have jumped into the fray. Brands, including many in India, have tapped into the metaverse's possibilities. We see reputed business houses such as the Mahindra and Tata adopting cutting-edge technology to recreate store environments online and allowing their users to play games or attend musical performances. Tata Tea even hosted the world's first 'metaverse Holi party'! Meanwhile, brands such as Mahindra & Mahindra, MG Motors, and MakeMyTrip have launched themed NFTs in India. These tentative forays could be a glimpse of the exciting changes that could be around the corner for brand-to-customer communication and engagement.
To take your first steps, you will need to identify how the metaverse fits into your customers' needs and preferences, your industry landscape, and your business growth plans. Remember, while the metaverse has exciting possibilities, it is also in its early stages. And challenges do exist, including technological limitations, the high costs of developing intricate virtual experiences, and more.
However, brands that want to create vivid new worlds for their target audience will find that the metaverse represents a good opportunity to add another element to their conventional consumer outreach channels. The underlying technologies themselves may take time to improve, but you can use this time to strategise your entry point into the metaverse and take small steps towards exploring its near-infinite potential so that you're ready when the time comes.
To know how we can help you develop your metaverse strategy, please contact us.