Virtual twins, new layers of reality, Second Life 2.0; what hides behind the metaverse highly praised by Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg? The following article explains the status quo of the metaverse and ventures an attempt at classification.
On the web and at resurgent physical events like SXSW 2022 in Austin, “industry insiders” are celebrating the metaverse as THE new thing on the Internet. It will replace everything that’s been there. No wonder Marc Zuckerberg renamed his Facebook group “Meta”. But other big players like Microsoft and Nvidia are also working on a virtual platform. Bloomberg Intelligence even forecasts a market potential of 800 billion US dollars by 2024.
Reason enough to take a deeper look at the metaverse. What is it actually? Let’s start with a definition.
Which metaverses already exist today
Virtual worlds have been around for a long time. Today’s Second Life versions are called “The Sandbox Game”, “Mincraft”, “Roblox” and “Animal Crossing”, for example. The latter is a game that particularly excites younger players on the Nintendo Switch. In the game, users can create their own worlds on various islands, living in their own virtual reality and building and maintaining friendships. But Facebook’s metaverse can also be discovered today. Zuckerberg’s vision is to map the virtual twins in the future so that they correspond 1:1 to reality, even if the computing power for this does not yet exist in its entirety.
Which companies are involved in the metaverse
Some companies are already trying out their own presences on the platform. The 200 brands, including Adidas, are cited as proof of the value of the new platform. But let’s be honest: Aren’t these the same brands that decades ago always put themselves at the forefront of whatever came along? Secondlife, myspace and other (Hello, Echo. Is anyone still there?).
After that, a few startups from the tech scene dare to use the platform. Of course, the training scene is also sniffing around in the new world for possible seminar content for the digital stragglers. And then? Performance test: Zero points. No reach. No leads. Sink. Or will this be another misjudgment?
Specifically, Adidas has bought some virtual real estate on the Sandbox platform. Nike sells virtual fashion on Roblox and the clothing chain H&M has bought an island on the Nintendo world Animal Crossing. Let’s keep in mind: real money has long been paid by established brands for purely virtual products. Platform owners feel vindicated in their idea and create monetization approaches. However, the real fun for the creators will only come when enough users enter the world and ensure the continuous exchange of goods and money. Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies play a major role in these worlds and may offer leverage for real money investment.
Entering the Metaverse with the Metaverse App
But how can you test your entry into the metaverse? With an app, of course. The app, which currently has a three-star rating, can be downloaded from the Google Playstore. The user opinions range from “totally cool” to “no performance”. Yet the idea behind the Metaverse is not bad. We would like to clearly distinguish the use of virtual reality from augmented reality once again at this point. The first touchdown of the Microsoft HoloLens was a real aha experience in augmented reality. Without a data glove or joystick, the world around was operable with bare hands. The digital windows from the Windows system could be conveniently distributed throughout the home. And the realistic games shot holes in the real walls of the living room.
Limitations of the Metaverse and what needs to happen for success
Mass access to the highly professional digital new world was and is only reserved for persons with a high income. That is probably why Microsoft has exclusively targeted companies with the Hololens 2 at a price starting at $3,500.
If Facebook and the other big players manage to bring a hardware to the market that has the same performance as the HoloLens, can be purchased at a consumer-friendly price, and does not greatly exceed the scope of sunglasses, then we are dealing with a real gamechanger. As long as we have to look through the phone screen, it will remain a conventional app among millions. It does not change reality.