The Metaverse Is The Technology Scaffolding Upon Which Big Tech And Brands Are Building Our Future.
The Metaverse is the technology scaffolding upon which brands and big tech are building our future social and working lives.
What have Louis Vuitton, Mark Zuckerberg, Burberry and Roblox have in common?
Each sees a bright, lucrative future where immersive digital communities, are unbound by the limitations of our current physical reality.
Each have a vision of the ‘metaverse’ and are creating or participating in immersive digital ‘co-experience’ platforms where millions and millions of people can come together to learn, work, create, play, socialise and earn.
The ‘metaverse’, a term that originated in Neal Stephenson’s seminal 1992 novel Snow Crash, has slowly spilled into the mainstream. It has become the latest macro-goal for many of the world’s tech giants and company brands.
Stephenson’s was a story of a pizza delivery rider who spends his free time escaping his dull daily life by plugging into the ‘Metaverse’. The ‘Metaverse’, was a simulated world, that allows its residents to live as avatars.
Instead of just viewing 2D content you’re embodied within it. But think less of the Avatar’s Na’vi, a species of 10-foot tall blue-skinned, sapient humanoids. Think more ‘omniverse’ where highly interoperable physical and digital worlds cross over .
So, whilst we are still trying to wrap our arms around the current 2-dimensional version of social platforms a new immersive 3D world is starting to appear.
In June Mark Zuckerberg told employees that he was betting that the future of Facebook on the metaverse. Zuckerberg said that in 5 years’ time Facebook would go far beyond its current portfolio of social apps and instead focus on bringing the embodied internet of the social Metaverse to life. He wants Facebook to create a user-driven engagement design that includes fully immersive digital experiences.
In August, Burberry evidencing the brands spirit of innovation and creativity, partnered with Mythical Games to launch a non-fungible token (NFT) collection in Mythical Games flagship multiplayer party game ‘Blankos Block’.
Blankos Block features digital vinyl toys known as Blankos that live on a blockchain. A limited- edition, limited-quantity Burberry Blanko featuring a digital shark named Sharky B, is an NFT that can be purchased, upgraded, and sold within the Blankos Block Party marketplace.
30 seconds after launch all 750 Sharky Bs, costing hundreds of dollars were sold. Those lucky few who purchased their shark were then able to buy branded Burberry accessories (e.g., Burberry branded pool shoes, Burberry jetpacks and Burberry armbands).
Not to be outdone Louis Vuitton released an exclusive capsule collection that featured the League of Legends universe, including special Prestige skins for the League of Legends Champion, Qiyana.
September saw a virtual Burning Man Metaverse explode onto the Oculus. Attendees’ avatars were able to engage with other’s avatars and live an immersive burning man experience from the comfort of their sofas.
So, what does the future hold? Will tech and brands hurtle into the ether to chase the metaverse? Will we chase after a ‘Second life’ less dull that our physical reality? Will the metaverse become a necessity for brands, big tech, you and I?
Will digital-first designers, entrepreneurial retailers, influencers and mere mortals such as you and I take time out to master the motion sickness inducing Metaverse? Will we want to be plugged into the matrix? I am not so sure.
Facebook has not sold the 1bn Oculus headsets it promised to in 2017. That said, don’t ever write them off as Zuckerberg, Burberry and Roblox have got more things right than they got wrong. For example, recently more than 12million players logged into Fortnite to watch a live concert performed by Travis Scott
A thriving metaverse offers many opportunities to experience the digital world in a whole new way but would still raise familiar questions about how the virtual world is governed, how its contents could be moderated, and what its existence could do to our shared sense of reality.
At the moment, the jury is out. Facebook’s and ROBLOX’s Metaverse are not yet interoperable. The internet we know today wasn’t developed by any one single entity, but built collaboratively around open standards and protocols, including net neutrality.
Will companies such as Facebook and ROBLOX work to develop interoperability or will they wall off their virtual Metaverse gardens?
Will we want to take part in a digital world when we have not quite mastered out physical world?
Only time will tell.
About the author:
Kieran is recognized as a digital transformation, intelligent automation, data analytics and social media strategy thought leader. Follow Kieran. Join him monthly on LinkedIn Live on the Third Thursday of each month. Or watch Kieran‘s YouTube channel or website.