Formerly known as Facebook, the multi-billion-dollar company Meta has staked its future on the Metaverse. Launching Horizon Worlds, a virtual reality social network that allows people to hang out as cartoon versions of themselves and do whatever – build virtual homes, attend virtual nightclubs – all in their spaces known as “worlds.”
Despite Meta having sold nearly 15 million metaverse-enabled headsets, there still exists a large amount of skepticism over the idea of an immersive internet. The company’s stock prices have plummeted following the announcement by Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of the plan to spend billions of dollars to bring the Metaverse to the masses.
The Metaverse and All It Holds
The internet has always been a dynamic environment, ranging from its earliest versions, Web1 – static web pages – to Web2, which was all about interactions and social experiences within closed ecosystems—and moving on to Web3, which will encompass “digital ownership within an open, decentralized environment,” according to Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, who sees the Metaverse as a distant evolution of Web3.
Etymologically, meta as a term means “beyond.” As a term that first appeared in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, the Metaverse can be put as a digital three-dimensional space where humans can interact with each other using avatars in a metaphor for the real world. And verse speaks to the “universe” – an “imaginary realm” made available to the world “across a worldwide fiberoptics network.”
Just as the definition above can apply to digital settings that have been enhanced either with virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). Cam
It also stands to reason that there can be no one steady definition of the Metaverse, just as there is no telling what it will become or what it will hold for specific business models that require the physical presence of humans.
The Future of the Metaverse: Brands, Crypto, Web3, and NFTs
There have been many predictions about how the Metaverse will interface with the current digital systems, cryptocurrency included. Suppose the words of Coinbase CEO, Brian Armstrong, are to be looked into. In that case, we can expect to see a proliferation of the Metaverse in all societal aspects. And with many tech developers, analysts, and investors already foreseeing an intertwining of the Metaverse and crypto – despite being two very different things – into the Web3 environment.
There are various predictions within the tech community of an “Exponential Age” in which the internet of the future leads us to the Metaverse. Many global brands, including Gucci and Coca-Cola, had already created their own NFTs – nonfungible tokens or digital assets with unique identification codes distinguishing them from each other – and launched them into virtual worlds.
In Roblox, the online game platform and game creation system, Gucci sold NFTs of the limited “Gucci Collection” in-game. This collection included bags, glasses, and hats and was used to reach new consumers in the Metaverse. Coca-Cola went even further and launched branded virtual clothing as NFTs in the virtual world of Decentraland – these included “wearable” jackets for the avatars – and hosted a Rooftop Party in the game to celebrate the launch of these nonfungible tokens.
NASCAR plans in November to launch a digital car on a jailbreak breakout game platform on Roblox and sell clothing to the avatars. Plans for the launch include allowing players to create personalized NASCAR uniforms in a fan contest with the game’s developers promoting them on social media as influencers.
This move by these brands is due to the increasing number of users actively getting into virtual games. However, the Metaverse is just beginning to show true potential; brands are still exploring entry into the digital space.
NFTs are already proving to be a great point of contact for these brands to meet their consumers where they already are.
Roblox currently boasts more than 200 million monthly active users, with about half of this number being under the age of 13 and playing numerous virtual games that are beginning to incorporate brand activations. This is perhaps a call to many companies, regardless of product and mission statements, to pull strategies on maximizing this emerging space and utilizing the gateways that NFTs and the crypto industry have opened for them.