The Metaverse is a very hard term and idea to define, it’s a way of describing another world we can be part of, interact with other people in, work in, play in, even some day live in! Metaverse is also being wrongly used as an umbrella term to describe immersive technologies – virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality etc.
There is a large push right now for brands to establish a foothold in the Metaverse, the rules are being established, the way we interact and think of it is still being moulded, but its the wild west. Read below for our take on the reality of the Metaverse.
Facebook rebranded in 2021 to Meta and announced a company wide focus on the idea of a future ‘Metaverse’. Since then we’ve seen a surge in interest in virtual worlds / experiences for brands and an accompanying surge in confusion from everyone involved. Check out the graph below from Google Trends showing how the niche term of ‘Metaverse’ exploded.
In tech circles we’re familiar with the ‘hype cycles’ , this idea of a peak of excitement in a new technology and its grand potential followed by a ‘trough of disillusionment’. In the above graph you can see the initial explosion, the trough, and now it’s rallying – you can see it’s actually holding interest. This is in a large part due to the fact that it’s a flag being carried by ‘Meta’ (Zuckerberg et al), with all their resources and strength dragging an emergent (and frankly not ready) industry behind them.
At Visualise we create all things VR, AR and anything under the ‘immersive umbrella’, so naturally our phones started to ring… “we want to be in the Metaverse”, “how can our brand activate in the Metaverse” etc. We were really scratching our heads – there is no Metaverse, what were people expecting to be part of?
It’s worth looking at the definition of the Metaverse and being very aware of the truth behind what it should be, not what people are telling us it ‘can be’. The best definition is from the brilliant book ‘The Metaverse, and How it Will Revolutionize Everything’ by Matthew Ball:
“A massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds that can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users with an individual sense of presence and with continuity of data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications and payments”
Quite a mouthful isn’t it! At nearly every stage of that definition we are not there yet – this is what most of Matthew Ball’s book is saying, despite its title; there is a relatively small part of the book devoted to Metaverse potential. A much more significant part of the book relates to the realities of global infrastructure relating to the internet and the issues behind politics and technology that are massively hamstringing our ability to reach the real Metaverse. It’s an excellent read and will give a full education for anyone interested in this emerging industry. Link to book here.
So given the Metaverse is not there and yet clients want to be part of it, what can we say – we can only be honest and talk through what they can do that’s ‘Metaversy’ at the moment. This could include building experiences in Roblox, Decentraland or even teaming up with Meta to have something custom in Facebook’s own ‘Horizons’. But the simple truth is that the numbers of people they can expect to visit – the traction for the brand would be small. There is little ‘passing traffic’, often very niche demographics and relatively limited tools for building content/environments.
Ultimately building a brand experience in Roblox, Decentraland, or Fortnite is not building something in the Metaverse it’s building something with ‘metaversal activities’. James Whatley from Diva Agency has been particularly acerbic and clear on his stance on this, in a refreshing and insightful talk that did the rounds on LinkedIn and beyond this summer (watch here).
Below are some of the best options you have at present if you’re looking to do something ‘metaversey’!!
Engage is one of the ‘older’ players in the market, they first made a mark on the scene at the beginning of covid when HTC took their Vive developer conference completely in to the Metaverse and did it all virtually. Focussed B2B and highly customisable, Engage also allows for people to access the experience on mobile and desktop as well as through VR headsets.
Decentraland was really put on the map by ‘Metaverse Fashion Week‘ in March 2022. It’s got a great set of tools to create and edit your world and experience, from the basic to a fully featured SDK, allowing for top levels of customisation. It’s got regular visitors and lots of events on a near daily basis.
VR Chat is probably the biggest and best known of the platforms. It has regular events scheduled including open mic nights, group fitness and more. One of the best features of VR Chat is that ‘worlds’ can be fully developed using Unity, which makes it a good fit for our studio.
Meta’s (Facebook’s) Horizon World’s is their version of the Metaverse, it’s still in it’s first few iterations and people can now make their own worlds so we expect to see it growing. It’s not at all B2B focussed though, so you’d need to use their own basic tools to make an environment for your brand, that may change though so we’re keeping an eye on it!
Above and beyond the ‘off the shelf’ platforms there are of course custom builds we can make, from private virtual shared spaces to immersive edit suites or conferences.
We can help advise brands and agencies on all things ‘Metaversy’; we have been in the immersive tech industry for a long time and we know exactly what is and what isn’t a Metaverse. For a bit of backstory/context, check out our post ‘What is the Metaverse?‘ where you’ll find what the Metaverse is now and what it aims to be in the future.
Get in touch on the link below to discuss!
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