The Metaverse Race is On


    Jan 23, 2023

    The second post in this series looks at the concepts powering the metaverse, what the tech giants are doing in the space, and the potential market size and business models that will drive its evolution.

    Check out post 1 for my introductory post: The Metaverse: Changing How We Live and Interact Forever.

    Enter the metaverse, a virtual world with the promise to revolutionize our lives to become an extension of the physical world.

    2022 emerged as the year of the Metaverse, a technology-based augmented reality space poised to change how we live and interact for forever. In the Metaverse, people are able to enter a collection of immersive digital worlds, which they can then explore in the form of cartoon or digital avatars.

    With augmented- or virtual-reality headsets, people will be able to do whatever they do in the physical world with a sense of 3D presence that hasn’t been available in online experiences so far.

    Think of it as an Internet that you won’t just look at, but also live in with your digital avatar inhabiting the metaverse. Instead of watching or reading about something you’re interested in, you’ll experience it and digitally perform corresponding actions alongside other people who also want to be part of that experience.

    Imagine you need to stay in touch with your family through video calls. That’s the closest thing possible today, which isn’t really close enough. As your family sits together, plays games, or digs into a meal, you may feel left out if you’re not with them. The metaverse promises to change that. Here you can meet with your family in a virtual space and you can play that game in a digital avatar. Actual movements and conversations can take place. This is what the metaverse will offer – experiences, not just sight and sound.

    More than just a game

    The metaverse concept isn’t really new. Many video games like Roblox, Fortnite, and Grand Theft Auto have already build their own virtual worlds, with their own economies, currencies, storylines, and characters.

    The metaverse too may have some of these gaming elements, but it won’t be just another kind of video game – it will be a complete new cyber space where reality meets imagination. The characters will be real humans but the world entirely fictional, made up of a virtual elements that create a completely parallel real life.

    Tech heavyweights: The race is on

    Judging by the kind of investments we’re seeing today, it’s safe to say there will be many choices of metaverses. With different virtual worlds in the making, a number of tech heavyweights are already active in this new digital virtual space.

    Facebook changed its name to Meta to reposition itself and stay ahead of the curve, envisioning a utopian future in which billions of people inhabit immersive digital environments working, socializing, and gaming inside virtual and augmented worlds.

    Apple is working on an Advanced Virtual Reality gadget that it says could revolutionize the metaverse experience.

    Google is reported to be working on an innovative Augmented Reality device and may create a separate and unique metaverse platform.

    Microsoft has also joined the race and is creating a digital world called “Mesh”, aiming to incorporate virtual experiences into Microsoft teams. On January 18, 2022, the company announced its intention to acquire gaming company Activision Blizzard for over US$68 billion.

    Disney is creating its own metaverse to act as an extension of Disney films and its streaming service. Disney-patented metaverse technology for theme parks is expected to project 3D images of visitors.

    Huawei is partnering up with multiple companies to explore metaverse applications, including Perfect World (China), Beijing Shougang Park, and Tiny Island Productions (Singapore).

    Alibaba has applied for the trademarks “Ali Yuan Universe” and “Taobao Yuan Universe.”

    Governments aren’t sitting back either

    ✓ In May 2021, the South Korean government established the national Metaverse Alliance to bring different virtual worlds under one umbrella.

    ✓ In 2022, The Unitary Parliamentary Republic of Barbados approved the establishment of the world’s first metaverse embassy.

    ✓ In the US, the city of Santa Monica in California partnered with Metaverse Company to launch a digital version of Santa Monica, becoming first US city to enter the metaverse.

    Almost everything, everywhere is gradually finding its place in the metaverse – it’s no longer just an experiment by few tech geeks and is instead becoming an inevitable alternative to reality.

    Global market size

    According to Emergen Research, the global Metaverse market size was US$ 63.08 billion in 2021, and is expected to reach US$1.61 trillion in 2030 with an average CAGR of 43.3% during the forecast period, 2021-2028. A recent report by crypto asset manager Grayscale estimates the digital world may grow into a US$1 trillion business in the near future

    In the first few months after Facebook announced that it would be making its move in the metaverse, prices of virtual reality plots shot up by 500%.

    Business models in the metaverse

    From the perspective of the development of the Internet, 3D and multimedia have always been general evolution trends. From text messages and images to videos and live broadcasts, the Internet has been developing in a vivid direction.

    Why is the metaverse so attractive?

    From a technical point of view, blockchain brings executable property rights to all digital assets. And thus the metaverse combines two complementary paradigms: blockchain and increasingly rich content.

    So, what business models are we seeing take shape?

    • NFT sales (non-fungible tokens): Currently, galleries are the most common business model of the metaverse, which may stem from the integral connection between NFT and art. Many of the first active members of the metaverse were artists or those the art industry. So far this is the earliest and most popular business model in the metaverse.
    • Vox sales: Unlike the physical world, the metaverse – including all buildings and wearable devices – is entirely composed of voxels, which are digital values on a three-dimensional grid. In the future, many brands may be buying advertising space in the virtual world. The metaverse will enable complex and creative ad campaigns, further blurring the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds.
    • Construction: Some landowners own multiple digital plots, but have limited time and energy for construction. Many hire professional teams to build their own plots in order to expand their branding. Such demand has led to the emergence of third-party construction services such as MetaEstate and Voxel Architects.
    • Digital parcel leasing: Just like real estate in the real world, digital packages can also be leased and purchased. According to data analysis by CV Analytics, many metaverse landowners hold multiple plots. Most do not plan to build their own plots, instead choosing to make long-term investments.
    • Immersive experience: In Universal Studios Beijing, a seemingly physical experience can give rise to almost magical immersion, such as you levitating a chair with Harry Potter or jumping onto a skyscraper with Transformers. The metaverse is a natural place for an immersive experience powered by 3D technology coupled with professional architectural design.
    • Gaming: The inherently virtual nature of gaming makes this lucractive space extremely easy to integrate into the metaverse. On-chain (blockchain-based) games, for example, can enable players to enjoy the fun of a game while investing in NFT.
    • Online karaoke: For those who like belting out a tune in public, karaoke is a great way to socialize. But in the real world, it’s difficult for people who live far apart to meet in a karaoke venue. However, in the metaverse, geographical restraints will no longer be a barrier.

    So, what do you think? Will the metaverse really make our virtual lives better or will it manipulate our perception of reality? Drop us a comment below.

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    Further reading

    Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.


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