According to Goldman Sachs, the Metaverse market might be worth $8 trillion (1).
While tech behemoths like Meta, Apple, and Microsoft are expected to dominate Metaverse’s infrastructure, it remains to be seen whether the vision will catch on. Even still, the race to produce and manage the digital products that will serve meta-consumers is already underway.
Today, let’s see some of the major developments happening in the sector.
After purchasing Activision Blizzard for a whopping 70 billion USD, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, commented, “When we think about our vision for Metaverse, we believe there won’t be a single, centralized metaverse. Instead, we need to support several metaverse platforms, especially in gaming. We see the Metaverse as a collection of communities and individual identities docked in strong content franchises, accessible to everyone on every device (2).”
The vision Nadella outlined is in striking contrast from the all-encompassing VR internet that Ball and Mark Zuckerberg of Meta have put forward.
Nonetheless, we already see metaverses as plural, and they are all around us. Today, we can see persistent metaverse communities formed around places like Call of Duty: Warzone and World of Warcraft.
Minecraft is another social, creative, and customizable gameplay often cited as a metaverse-adjacent game. If not in function, MMOs like WoW share a kinship with metaverses in form. If we look at Fortnite and Roblox, there are even closer analogs. After all, these hugely popular games’ avatar, customization, and presence are almost more important than the game itself.
Roblox, an incredibly free-form environment game, is compared to Second Life, where players write their games and chase dreams and status of real-world success (3). Here, brands also create advergames to reach an elusive tween demographic.
Meanwhile, Fortnite has staged colossal in-game cultural events like the 2020 Travis Scott concert attended by more than 27 million participants (4). To many, including Ball, these events indicate the closest we have come to a true experience in the Metaverse (5).
Gaming studies are not the only ones that have integrated metaverse visions with their platforms. For instance, an online casino has also gained immense popularity in Decentraland, with over 600k monthly visions, netted over 15.4 million USD in payouts (6).
The world is shifting because of the Metaverse. While some of the adjustments are unquestionably good, others are a source of concern. However, the Metaverse raises a lot of questions.
How can everyday necessities, for example, be translated into the virtual world?
Some fast-food restaurants, such as McDonald’s, Panera Bread, and Wingstop, have devised a strategy. Both companies have applied for trademarks that will allow them to sell food in the Metaverse (7).
McDonald’s and Wingstop, both of which submitted patents last month, are developing systems to sell a weird menu of products in the Metaverse, according to Insider (8). Though there are some commonplace items on the list, such as NFTs and digital assets, the apparent headliner is virtual and real food.
In the Metaverse, there are several uncertainties concerning virtual food. Are these just code snippets that your avatar can imbibe?
Wingstop’s version of the technology mentions tokens, which will provide users discounts on real-world purchases. McDonald’s, on the other hand, provides a clearer image. The chain’s hallmark is a mechanism that allows users to order virtual food that is then delivered to them in the real world.
As the Metaverse (or just its concept) rises in popularity, many businesses want to get in on the ground floor before they miss it. Of course, this raises the question of how addictive the Metaverse will be, to the point that you won’t bother ordering from a restaurant in the real world.
Retail and Fashion Industry isn’t Falling Behind Either
The retail, primarily non-tech, companies chasing this success is perhaps the most notable one.
Reportedly, both CVS, a US pharmacy chain, and Walmart are experimenting with virtual products like consumer goods, digital merchandise, personal and health care products, and prescription drugs (9).
Several other corporate brands have joined the metaverse bandwagon, a movement that has gained traction since Facebook’s rebranding itself to Meta (Suggested Reading: Facebook is Now Meta: An Ambitious Mission But Suspicious Timing).
Nike, the world’s largest sportswear company, filed four trademark applications for virtual goods in October 2021. It listed virtual products such as hats, eyewear, backpacks, and sports equipment in the filings (10).
L’Oreal, which has registered for trademarks for 17 of its subsidiaries specialized in makeup, hair, and other beauty product names, is another company following the metaverse road (11).
Ralph Lauren filed a trademark application in December 2021 to use its name as a virtual store and for the sale of virtual apparel and other virtual commodities (12).
Recently, fashion designer Rosanda also launched a line of NFT dresses after brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Dolce and Gabbana exhibited their virtual designs at a Decentraland fashion show (13). Many recognized and luxury fashion brands, including Victoria’s Secret, also have digital products in development.
Virtual Offices and Spaces are Coming Too
Vice Media’s new virtual office space is most likely only an experiment, but BIG may now use it as a marketing tool to create more virtual locations (14).
The Bjarke Ingels Group or BIG has completed a landmark architectural project: its first metaverse workspace. Vice Media Group (VMG) has a new virtual headquarters in decentraland’s open digital world platform named ‘Viceverse.’
Vice verse was directed by Virtue Futures, a part of Vice’s creative agency Virtue Worldwide that launched Coca-first Cola’s NFT in 2021. BIG’s white, sinuous structure will act as the agency’s virtual innovation lab, allowing teams to experiment with NFTs, DAOs, and web 3.0.
Employees, clients, and collaborators from all around the world will be able to gather for briefings, presentations, and in-person demonstrations of current projects at the virtual office.
The space will feature a variety of digital experiments and hidden extras for interested explorers, such as a direct path for young creatives to approach many highly acclaimed worldwide meta-mentors. It will also act as a jumping-off point for digital field study on the sociology of online communities.
New Opportunities for the Travel Industry with Metaverse
Most people imagine a gathering of youngsters playing video games while immersed in a virtual 3D world when they think of the Metaverse. But what if the Metaverse might be exploited to alter our travel habits?
As it turns out, numerous businesses, including DFS and Marriott Bonvoy, are already investigating new types of marketing and new ways to provide better experiences in the Metaverse, and travelers are starting to reap the advantages (15, 16).
The travel industry would perhaps leverage the Metaverse to market high-end vacations by providing virtual reality previews of destinations, hotel rooms, and first-class seats.
Another fun development we see in the travel industry is integrating concepts of NFTs and Metaverse into airline loyalty programs.
Look at what AirAsia is building to see how airlines are looking for new business models and diversifying revenue streams to protect their organizations from external dangers like variable fuel prices and demand shocks. NFTS and the Metaverse provide unique opportunities to do so (17).
Low-cost carriers (LCCs), who lack the multibillion-dollar frequent-flier programs of their full-service counterparts but have a history of being more adaptable and quick to adopt new technology and trends, have a distinct advantage (18).
Real Estate and Big Banks are Also Boosting Metaverse
JPMorgan has opened a branch in the Metajuku shopping mall. A spiral staircase, a live tiger, and a luminous portrait of CEO Jamie Dimon can all be found in the bank’s lounge (20).
What’s the catch?
JPMorgan’s new quarters aren’t in the real world, but in Decentraland, one of the most popular metaverse platforms in the world.
The bank’s metaverse launch coincided with the publication of a study by Onyx, JPMorgan’s blockchain arm, launched in 2020 and explores the Metaverse’s potential.
And JPMorgan is enthusiastic: according to the paper, the Metaverse will become a 1 trillion USD market potential in annual revenues, as virtual worlds will “infiltrate every sector in some form in the upcoming years.”
JPMorgan is the first financial institution to open a metaverse office. However, it follows the well-worn path of major brands, corporations, and influencers entering the Metaverse.
In the metaverse economies, real estate has also grown in popularity. The emergence of the “ownership economy” in Web 3.0, a new internet iteration advocating decentralized, equitable, and user-controlled, has fueled virtual land transactions.
According to JPMorgan, virtual real estate is a “growing business,” and marketers have aided this development by “buying up property so they can establish virtual stores and other experiences.” The survey highlights the average price for a virtual land parcel doubling in just six months last year, rising from 6k USD in June to 12k USD in December across the four major metaverse platforms.
Everyrealm (previously known as Republic Realm) purchased a portion of Decentraland territory for 913k USD last June. The land is now turned into the Metajuku shopping complex, including JPMorgan’s lounge. According to JPMorgan, the virtual real estate market would soon “begin to see services like credit, mortgages, and rental contracts.”
Governments are Pouring Big Money into Metaverse
South Korea’s Ministry of ICT, Science, and Future Planning has committed 186.7 million USD to create a comprehensive metaverse ecosystem to support the growth of digital content and corporate growth in the country (21).
As per an official statement the ministry released in the last week of February (22), it will use the funding to complete four primary objectives in creating what looks to be an all-encompassing metaverse environment also called the “Expanded Virtual World.”
South Korea plans to use its Metaverse to expand the virtual industrial growth of cities, education, and media.
Officials will offer support to content creators on several fronts to attract the right talent. The government will also hold community-oriented creative events, including a hackathon and metaverse developer competition.
Meanwhile, no less than ten Chinese cities have included Metaverse in their economic development plans (23). There are presently 112+ companies in China’s industry committee dedicated to promoting the Metaverse.