Decoding The Metaverse Part 1 – What Is The Metaverse?

Image of a person wearing a VR headset with the word metaverse illustrated.

The metaverse is big business. It has generated tons of column inches, tech websites write about it all the time. Corporate behemoths have bet billions on it. The metaverse seems to be the next iteration of the internet.

But what is it exactly?

This is a harder question to answer than you might think. But in this series, we are going to try to examine what the metaverse is, what it could be and why it’s the next big thing.

Let’s decode the metaverse and its implications for, well, everything!

Digital illustration of a meeting taking place in the metaverse.

What is the Metaverse?

It is hard to define what the Metaverse is, because it could be anything and everything.

Most of what we think of right now when we think of the Metaverse is what we imagine it could be.

The metaverse is a gaming space. An immersive digital commerce space. It’s a place to work, to train. It’s an advertising channel that could be bigger than search and social media combined.

Right now, all anyone can agree on is that the Metaverse is a virtual space. Where people can spend time and money.

So if the metaverse is a virtual space, with almost limitless possibilities and applications, how do we conceptualize it? 

The fact is it is impossible to define the metaverse, in the same way we define the internet. The act of defining it puts limits on something that may have limitless applications.

The one thing we do know about the metaverse is its core, shared features.

Image of the PlayStation VR2 headset.
Photo by Triyansh Gill on Unsplash

What are the core characteristics & features of the metaverse?

If the metaverse is the next version of the internet, how is it different? What makes the metaverse a leap forward?

The answer lies in the core features of what a metaverse experience is. Although it is still early days, the gaming space provides some clues on where things could go.

Gaming has been serving always-on immersive digital spaces for years now. From Minecraft, to Fortnite through to Warzone, gaming has been serving immersive spaces for a long time. These spaces also encourage interaction between users (though you may not want to talk to some of them).

So, how will the metaverse take this further? Here is a list of core characteristics and features that the iteration of the metaverse could have. From the initial, basic iteration that we will see first. All the way through to the more advanced forms of metaverse we will start to see in several years time.

Basic iteration metaverse characteristics & features

  • An immersive, 3D space
  • Customizable avatars
  • Interaction between users
  • Always-on and accessible
  • User decision making & agency

Advanced metaverse characteristics & features for future iterations

  • Availability across multiple platforms and devices
  • Full AR & VR functionality (though the metaverse is not only VR & AR)
  • AI (working as part of the experience and in support functions etc etc)
  • Virtual “property” or “land”
  • Features beyond gaming or interaction
  • Work/meeting functionality
  • Web3 support (see below)

It is important to address some of the confusion around Web3 and the metaverse. They are two different things. It is natural they get combined as they are both new paradigms that replace what we have. But the metaverse is about immersive experiences. Whether it’s centralized or decentralized does not matter. Web3 could overlap with the metaverse in many different ways, but it is not core to what the metaverse is, or could be.

Image of $100 dollar bills to illustrate the money being invested in the metaverse.
Photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash

Why is the Metaverse the “next big thing”?

If the metaverse is the game changer it appears to be, then it is no surprise to see that investors are betting on it in a big way.

The sheer number of potential use cases of the metaverse would make any investor with big money salivate. It’s a new advertising channel, a new workspace and a new kind of social media. The excitement over a new kind of immersive advertising channel alone would drive billions in investment.

There are so many potential examples of monetization that investors cannot afford to ignore the metaverse. Investment has already reached the $120 billion mark and it is only going to increase.

Investors interested in the metaverse tend to come from a few categories. Large tech companies, venture capitalists, big corporations and well-known brands. Rumors suggest Apple is launching a VR headset, which could be another milestone. If an Apple VR headset changes things in the same way the first iPhone did, we could see a rapid increase in VR adoption. 

Despite the future of the metaverse being so nebulous, it’s easy to see why it’s drawn the interest of huge companies. Hundreds of millions of people log into immersive environments like Fortnite, or play games like Roblox every day already. There could be billions logging into a future of iteration of the metaverse.

You can read part 2 in the series where we talk about metaverse sentiment. We will ask what do consumers think of the metaverse? And if the metaverse is a game changer, how can businesses adapt? in part 4, coming soon, we will ask what it all means for customer experience?

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If you want to talk about the metaverse or plan for the future of commerce, talk to MAQE. We can help you adapt to huge disruptions and ensure that you will be one step ahead of the competition. Get in touch via [email protected].