An ever-increasing part of our lives is becoming digital today, a transformation sped up by the global pandemic. Shopping, payments, work, and play are now all happening online, with new online services to replace “analog” ones emerging day after day. Records have been replaced by digital music streaming, movies are being released through video streaming services and cinemas at the same time, the popularity of online gambling through https://www.casinoaus.com/online-pokies/ is growing each day, and online performances, some even in virtual reality, are commonplace today.
The convergence of several technologies – broadband, affordable internet connections, lightweight and powerful devices, among others – is leading to the emergence of something science fiction writers have predicted repeatedly in the past: a “metaverse”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it comes with a brand new set of business opportunities.
What is a metaverse
The term “metaverse”, coined by SF writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 book “Snow Crash”, refers to a virtual space, analogous to the real world, where people can interact through the use of avatars. It goes beyond the classic concept of “cyberspace” by covering not just a fully immersive virtual environment (VR) but also elements of augmented reality (AR) that puts a digital layer between humans and the world around them.
In today’s definition, a “metaverse” covers everything from work meetings to communication, live streaming, gaming, and most types of social interactions among users.
One of the earliest working “metaverses” is Linden Labs’ Second Life, a platform launched in 2003 and still very much alive today.
Meta Platforms, the company formerly known as Facebook Inc., has made it its goal to develop a metaverse ecosystem covering everything mentioned above – maybe more. And this may, in the near future, lead to business opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Selling virtual goods
Linden Labs’ second attempt at creating a metaverse, called Project Sansar, was built around VR. Similar to Second Life (only much more elaborate and beautiful), the platform would’ve allowed creators to present – and sell – their own merchandise inside the virtual world of Sansar for money they could use in the real one. The products would’ve covered everything from pieces of apparel to items and artwork.
There is no way to predict whether Meta’s upcoming Metaverse will allow its users to do similar business within it – but judging by its “non-meta” counterpart (Facebook), we’d say it’s at least very probable. Just as influencers and merchants can present their products and services through Facebook’s storefronts, there will likely be a possibility for creators to present their own in Meta’s metaverse. Unique items, commissions, NFTs – these may all present opportunities for creators within it.
For companies, metaverses will likely present a great means of promoting their products – not just in the “traditional” way (through native advertising or the oh-so-boring banner and video ads) but also by launching virtual versions of their real-life products within.
One example of this is Gucci’s virtual sneaker called The Gucci Virtual 25. This product can only be “worn” in augmented reality or in partnered apps like VRChat or Roblox – and they cost real money ($12.99 in Gucci’s own app). Virtual accessories can sometimes be sold for eye-watering amounts – just think of the Gucci purse that someone sold in Roblox for more than its real-world counterpart costs.
When will the metaverse come about with all of its exciting opportunities? Well… they are working on it. Individual elements of the future metaverses (digital storefronts and payment options, communication, and entertainment channels, events, and such) are already in the works or ready to use. Now all that remains is for a platform to bring these all together, something we can expect to happen… well, soon.
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