In this three-part blog series, let us discuss and explore on the way, the mighty world of metaverse. The second of the three parts in this blog series explores Metaverse in today’s context, more in its ‘present’ than a future expedition.
Now that we’ve established some ground as to what Metaverse is and more importantly what it is not, we have a confession to make. Our first part of this blog series may have appeared to some of our readers to be too future-oriented, as if Metaverse is a thing of the Future, somewhere in distance (though in our defense, we called it fast-approaching) while we took our earnest efforts to make you all understand what on earth is this Metaverse. Hence, we thought it is important for us to dwell the “present” of Metaverse. As of today, with only less than half of 2022 left, the big players in the field of Metaverse are companies that had already begun their journeys easily a decade ago. That’s how “old” Metaverse is for them.
The traction Metaverse has gained in the recent past among masses is due to Facebook renaming itself to “Meta” and major companies jumping the bandwagon to openly start conversations around this mighty Metaverse. For instance, around the same time, Nike went ahead and hired a Director of Metaverse Engineering and a dedicated Metaverse Team. However, this should not really mislead us into believing that the work around Metaverse has only begun in the recent past. So, we thought it would be helpful to explore what is happening in the Metaverse ecosystem today, and the kind of conversations that are happening around it.
It would be a good place to start with Brands. Few months ago, it was reported that Nike filed trademark applications in the areas of metaverse, indicating its intent to make and sell virtual branded sneakers and apparel. Around May 2021, a digital version of a Gucci bag created for the Roblox marketplace was sold for US$ 4,115, which exceeded the price tag of its IRL physical accessory. Such concept of having a virtual representation that serves as the real-time digital counterpart of a physical object or process, is called 'Digital Twin'. And when did this concept first originate? It was way back in 2002 by Dr. Michael Grieves who currently is Executive Director at his Digital Twin Institute. Also, the Roblox platform where that fancy digital bag was sold, first came into being sometime in 2006.
Roblox, presently the big name amongst the Metaverse companies, is an online platform and storefront where users go to not just play games but create them. Roblox is not a single game, but a digital platform in which Users (predominantly younger generations) create and play games. For example, Adopt Me!, a pet simulation game where kids buy and take care of animals, has been visited by players over 20.4 billion times. Roblox has 43.2 million daily active users and 9.5 million developers. This doesn’t end just with games and simulations at Roblox. The Avatar Shop at Roblox where Users can buy clothes and items to customize their avatar, using digital custom currency called “Robux”. Yes, it’s another world in itself, a true Metaverse!
Well, Gaming Industry is where Metaverse is hugely popular today. Apart from Roblox, the major players in Metaverse through gaming platforms are Fortnite and Axie Infinity. These platforms, largely popular among children and young adults, provide a peek into how the evolution of Internet would be, arriving at Metaverse.
Discord, a group-chatting platform originally built for gamers has also become a general use platform. What is different in Discord from the conventional social media is that you can overlay Discord on top of games while playing them or bring up text chatting or headset speaking superimposed on a game. This is a further step in evolution of social media, that marries itself with the metaverse world.
Second Life, an immersive, three-dimensional (3D) environment that provides Users to have Avatars, that has a high degree of social networking and interaction with information. Second Life has a loyal Userbase who in their second life, attend Music events, Education classes etc happen just like the real world. And it is surprising to know that Second Life came into being, way back in 2003.
While the above-discussed examples provide a peek into how individuals will conceive and utilize the metaverse space, the recent announcement of Microsoft’s partnership with Kawasaki to use “industrial metaverse” in factories to help produce robots, took the metaverse industry by storm. Even before Metaverse could arrive at our homes, it seems it would enter our work. The metaverse technology of this Microsoft – Kawasaki partnership lets factory workers use HoloLens headset to overlay digital imagery in real-world environment for repair and overhaul of machinery without having the specialists travel to the location. This is considered a huge leap from the ongoing efforts of fourth industrial revolution. In the same lines, it was not surprising when Accenture, the IT services and consulting firm acquired 60,000 Oculus headsets for training its own new recruits. The technology would help remote workers and new recruits to participate in extended reality, thereby being engaged in an entirely cool way.
The platforms and the Companies mentioned here today are just a slice in the world of an already-prevalent metaverse. Understanding the present in terms of how far and how fast corporations and companies have arrived in their journey towards metaverse is vital. This presents a direct comparison with Web 2.0, the advent of social media, which was not so steady in its initial days but still could rule the world today. Therefore, in terms of future-building, Web 3.0 or the Metaverse era, as we had explored today, has a bigger and stronger foundation compared to the times of Web 2.0. The groundwork for Web 3.0 has begun as early as the beginning stages of its predecessor.
And that should provide the context for us - Metaverse has already arrived and it is going to be bigger and better. It is the future that we all will be living in.