In part two of this three-part series on the metaverse, we look at current virtual platforms and the opportunities that exist both now and those that will unfold in the future.
Today, the most popular way to experience the metaverse is via a video game played on a virtual reality (VR) headset. But in the future, there is a possibility that the metaverse will move towards becoming the next iteration of the Internet, or Web 3.0. This “Open Metaverse” would be community-owned, community-governed, and a freely interoperable version that ensures privacy by design.
Users should increasingly be able to access a host of use cases, including commerce, art, media, advertising, healthcare, and social collaboration.
A device-agnostic metaverse would be accessible via personal computers, game consoles, and smartphones, resulting in a large ecosystem.
Using this broad definition, as per Citibank, the total addressable market (TAM) for the metaverse could be between US$8 trillion and US$13 trillion by 2030, with total metaverse users numbering around five billion1.
Gaming is viewed as a key metaverse use case over the next several years due to the current immersive and multi-player experience of the space. But Citibank believes the metaverse will eventually help find new and enhanced ways to do all current activities, including commerce, entertainment and media, education and training, manufacturing, and enterprise operations in general. In the coming years, this is expected to include internal collaboration, client contact, sales and marketing, advertising, events and conferences, engineering and design, and workforce training among other activities.
The technology is also likely to have a significant positive impact on the healthcare and retail sectors. Telemedicine and the delivery of services outside large hubs should improve, significantly flattening the challenge of distance. For the retail and fashion sectors, the metaverse is e-commerce 2.0, and embracing the new technology will be key.
In an Open Metaverse world, there is likely to be significant technological and business model disruption. This new world would be a blockchain-based ecosystem where Web 3.0 native companies would challenge — and perhaps overtake — the current internet behemoths.
Some upcoming metaverse platforms
It is necessary to take a look at the current metaverse wave, which is already in progress, so as not to miss out on important opportunities. Here are a few highly relevant metaverse to look out for.
1. Horizon Worlds. Horizon Worlds is a free virtual reality environment that forms the main metaverse platform for Meta2. It is a social experience where users can explore, play, and create with others in VR.
Horizon invites users to explore an ever-expanding universe of virtual experiences designed and built by the entire community. Everything users see in Horizon, including the Plaza and worlds created by teams at Facebook, has been built with Horizon creation tools. In Horizon, users can build the things they want to see and places they want to visit.
2. Omniverse. NVIDIA Omniverse is a multi-GPU, open-source, and scalable collaboration platform for global designers, businesses, and artists to come together. Offering a comprehensive suite of development tools, NVIDIA Omniverse is at the forefront of real-time simulation and 3D design technologies3. Omniverse is not a toy; it enables digital twins of the real world as it exists, or as it will become4.
3. Microsoft Mesh. Microsoft Mesh (announced April 2021) is a complete virtual world that can be accessed through various devices, containing multiple sub-worlds and digital assets to provide a lifelike experience. In theory, it is almost like the metaverse, but it doesn’t try to bring together all virtual worlds in existence to create a unified and universal space. Rather, Mesh is quite clearly a Microsoft offering and will continue to provide a Microsoft and Teams-first experience, without any attempt at decentralization. In November 2021, Microsoft announced that Mesh for Teams is ready to roll out5.
4. Roblox. One of the most successful players in the metaverse world is Roblox. Founded in 2004, the platform now has 47 million daily active users globally and 9.5 million developers who build out “experiences,” aka user-created worlds and games. Roblox is more akin to Fortnite–parent Epic Games in that it’s focused on building an immersive world within existing gaming tech, rather than investing heavily in nascent tech like AR and VR. In July 2020, the company told The Verge that over half of children in the US play the game6.
5. Decentraland. Linked to the Blockchain Ethereum, Decentraland is a metaverse that makes various explorations of virtual lands possible. Users of this platform have the possibility to build on their plots of land and boost their value by creating content. They can then monetize whatever belongs to them.
Decentraland is recommended for artists wishing to express themselves on a profitable artistic platform. This is also the case for companies wishing to diversify their commercial strategy. Individuals wishing to have fun or even invest can just as easily use Decentraland. Monetization on the platform ranges from renting virtual lands to advertising to selling virtual goods.
6. Sandbox. SandBox is a virtual universe based on the blockchain system. Its users can build, create, sell, and buy dematerialized goods while playing. As a decentralized autonomous organization, SandBox will combine metaverse and NFT by reinforcing the “Play-to-earn” model. “Play-to-earn” is a creative form giving users the ability to earn through play. Players have the opportunity to collect, earn, create, and resell their digital assets as they wish. It means being a creator and a consumer at the same time, knowing that any content can be changed into NFT. The utility token that enables transactions in this metaverse is SAND.
The SandBox is quite unique because it has managed to exploit the strength of the Blockchain system in the world of online gaming. This metaverse with this tactic has managed to establish itself in the global video game industry. SandBox plans to explore sectors other than gaming, such as fashion and concerts, in the metaverse. Partnerships with celebrities like Snoop Dogg who wants to create a digital twin of his home in the metaverse, will make this platform even more well-known.