Metaverses in the making

#2 of my Tech Predictions for 2022

In November, Disney announced that they are working on their own Metaverse

When Mark Zuckerberg announced the name shift of Facebook Corp. to Meta, he set fire to a tech discussion that was already heating up: how will the future of the Internet look, and are we entering a new digital world called the Metaverse?

If you have no clue what I am talking about, you should watch the movie: Ready Player One. Or even better: read the novel: “Snow Crash”, from 1992 where Neal Stephenson first coined the word: “Metaverse”, referring to a tempting virtual world only accessible through technology like VR goggles.

Ready Player One is a great visualization of the Metaverse called The Oasis

When we talk about Metaverses today, we refer to the fusion of social networking, entertainment, gaming, and very soon shopping that will allow for new immersive experiences like joining a Travis Scott concert in Fortnite — together with 12 million other people!

At the virtual Travis Scott concert in Fortnite + 12 million attended. And nobody got hurt …

Mark Zuckerberg describes the metaverse as “the internet that you’re inside of, rather than just looking at.” And he also claimed that within 5 years, Facebook will be a Metaverse Company.

But haven´t we been here before? If you think about Second Life, then yes. Back in 2003, Second Life was an early version of a metaverse — a shared virtual space. Even LEGO went there in 2010 creating a Massive Multiplayer game called LEGO Universe, just to experience that it was too early, closing it down in 2012.

But a lot has changed in the last 10 years: Our computers and networks are many times faster today. VR headsets have reached a quality and a price point that makes them an attractive consumer product. With 3D avatars, everyone can take on any physical characteristics and personality they want. As your avatar, you can interact with other players in any way you prefer. Digital currencies are in place for you to purchase stuff in the Metaverse (NFT tech will play a central role here and secure your ownership and transferability of digital items and goods). Finally, users today already spend incredible amounts of time online. So in 2022, we are ready to give the idea of an engaging digital parallel universe another try.

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The new World order

Besides Facebook working hard on a full launch of their Horizon Worlds for 2022 (currently in Beta) a lot of other Metaverses are competing for attention and they come in many shapes and forms.

Fortnite — coming from the gaming world looks to be one of the best bets on a future Metaverse. They have more than 350 million active players and generated $ 5.1 billion in revenue last year — a huge part coming from in-app purchases of limited-edition cosmetic updates to your avatar.

Other Metaverses like Upland, The Sandbox, and Decentraland offer users the opportunity to buy their own piece of digital real estate. In 2021, selling digital land made the traditional real estate business look kind of silly: In February, 52 plots were sold in The Sandbox for a combined cost of $ 2.8 million. That was quickly dwarfed by the 6.000 square-foot estate in Decentraland´s Fashion District being sold on November 23 for $ 2.4 million.

Real Estate listings in Decentraland

Buying a piece of land in these worlds easily sets you back $ 30.000 already — and that´s before you start building a house on it. When The Sandbox opened its alpha version on November 29 2021, you needed to own a piece of land just to get into the Raffle of getting a Sandbox ALPHA pass …

Looking good in Metaland

Fashion Brands are jumping on the wagon. Because while you´re in the Metaverse, you might as well look stunning. And there´s a great desire to invest in digital accessories already:

On June 21, a Virtual digital-only Gucci Dionysos bag was sold for $ 4.115 — the physical version of the same bag retails at $3.400 …

Gucci´s virtual sneakers

Gucci also launched their Virtual 25 sneakers, which can be yours for only $17.99 and be worn in worlds like Roblox — a Metaverse that IPO´ed in 2021 and now has a Market Valuation of $ 65 billion!

Nike is betting hard on Roblox, where they have opened the virtual Nikeland where you can dress your avatar in Nike gear. Besides that, Nike is looking into releasing collectible NFT sneakers with the swush on — calling them Kryptokicks.

Nike has opened a virtual world in Roblox

Welcome to the Metaverse

So, how will this play out? Nobody really knows, but the activity level is sky-high and the amount of energy put into this means that I am sure the movement towards a 3D version of the Internet that we can inhabit is bound to happen.

I predict that we will see the first versions of commercially capable metaverses in 2022 and I recommend that Brands and companies start paying attention to these new digital worlds.

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Metaverses in the making was originally published in AR/VR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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