The metaverse can be defined as a virtual world where users share experiences and interact in real-time within simulated scenarios.
Although the metaverse is in the early stages of development, it is becoming a critical theme in the tech, media, and telecoms (TMT) industry.
Several technology companies are investing in metaverses to revolutionize digital media. Gaming platforms are at the forefront of metaverse development, but enterprise applications are also in the making.
Games and game platforms that rely on user-generated content are focusing on the metaverse. In 2020, with live events put on hold due to the pandemic, many consumers relied on social media channels and gaming platforms to interact with each other.
The metaverse is all about communities, and gaming is an ideal starting point
Epic Games, a long-time endorser of the metaverse, used the opportunity to organize virtual concerts in Fortnite, a Battle Royale game with over 350 million users worldwide. It demonstrated that such events could attract millions of people seeking entertainment in new formats and also serve as a channel for brands, advertisers, and celebrities to engage with their customers and fans in real-time. Having demonstrated its ability to operate in the metaverse, Epic Games raised $1bn funding in April 2021, lead by a $200m investment from Sony.
Social media-blended gaming platforms, such as Roblox and Facebook, and game makers like Niantic, are joining Epic Games in developing metaverses. Game developers with active metaverse offerings such as Solirax and Manticore Games could become acquisition targets of the aforementioned big firms over the next three years, depending on the success of their offerings and underlying technologies.
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Companies investing in the metaverse will increasingly focus on themes, including artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), 5G, and cloud computing. Ultimately, the successful development of their desired metaverse will depend on the pace of advancements in these themes.
Enterprises will be a key frontier
Businesses are critical markets for next-generation computing platforms such as AR and VR and will influence metaverse development. Several enterprise players are starting to explore metaverses and flex their technological capabilities. BMW, for instance, is building a digital twin (a digital representation of a physical asset, system, or process) for its factory using NVIDIA’s metaverse platform Omniverse. The automaker aims to assess modifications and adjustments to its production lines in the early stages of planning before investing in construction.
Microsoft Mesh, a mixed-reality, cloud-based meeting application that can teleport a person digitally to a remote location for shared experiences, is another enterprise-grade metaverse under-development. The company claims that the application will be beneficial for designers, architects, engineers, and medical researchers who regularly work on 3D physical models.
While the metaverse is at a nascent stage now, new prototypes and uses cases will emerge in the next three years. Meanwhile, market competition will intensify as the tech titans battle for market dominance, and non-tech brands track their progress for potential revenue and operational improvements.
Ultimately, consumer platforms will transform how people play, shop, access media, and interact. Enterprise platforms will offer new tools for data visualization and collaboration. That said, focus on themes such as cybersecurity and data privacy will be paramount for metaverse developers.