Today, so much work is going into building the metaverse that it might even surprise seasoned crypto-natives. We are building the foundation of the metaverse — all these technologies will be the building blocks of an immense new digital universe.
In this article, we focus on current developments and future possibilities within specific industries — e-commerce, offices, education, concerts, and eSports.
It should come as no surprise that e-commerce penetration has skyrocketed over the past few years, particularly following the Covid-19 pandemic. People buy physical goods like clothes, sporting equipment, and even food and groceries.
Digital goods are not to be left out of the picture — they are also selling like hotcakes, with the gaming skin industry projected to hit $50 billion in 2022. While one may question the value of an industry with no physical nor tangible value, it makes sense once we consider that to 70% of US consumers, one’s digital identity is just as important as their physical one.
Web 2 online shopping changed the game. It allows anybody to be an entrepreneur without having a physical storefront. While convenient for the user, one cannot walk around and browse, or speak to a friendly and helpful sales associate like in physical shops.
The metaverse opens up an entirely new realm of possibility for e-commerce, combining the best of traditional and Web 2 shopping. Through 3D virtual avatars, salesmanship through tone and body language matters again. May the best salesman win.
For example, Enviro Gallery is a virtual art gallery where artists may present their work. Sure, artists may have a nice write-up about their art piece in their online shop. But in Enviro, they can converse with guests about their work and the inspiration behind it. Here, the personal touch may not only result in a sale but also win that artist a loyal following.
Fashion and luxury brands already see the value of digital goods. Balenciaga released a line of digital branded goods within the virtual gaming world of Fortnite, which resulted in a sharp spike in Google searches for its brand. Gucci launched a virtual Dionysus bag in Roblox, which later on resold for $4,000 — more than its physical counterpart.
Virtual megamalls are starting to be developed. The Mall of the Emirates’ collaboration with Cisco sees the launch of The Store of the Future, a “futuristic shopping journey” in a digital mall. It aims to create an immersive experience — with digital screens welcoming shoppers, personalizing the displayed content based on anonymous facial analytics, which allows for a tailored product discovery journey as one explores the mall. The underlying technology also gathers data like visitor numbers, demographics, footfall heatmaps, and sentiment analysis. This data is leveraged to gain insight into consumer behavior, and improve the customer experience.
So, we can see that e-commerce within the metaverse provides benefits for fashion giants, individual shop owners, and shoppers. It also revitalizes the role of sales, creating sales jobs (amongst others). In fact, a McKinsey report projects metaverse e-commerce to be a $2–2.6 trillion industry by 2030.
One of the biggest winners emerging from the 2020 lockdowns was Zoom, which provided video conferencing software. Eric Yuan, Zoom CEO asserts that working from home is here to stay. While office workers wholeheartedly cheer this statement on, doubters bring up valid points like lack of cohesion within a team, employee “Zoom Fatigue”, and lack of motivation.
While there is no clear answer to this debate, it might not even be needed soon. A great number of companies see the metaverse as a solution, with Microsoft integrating their VR/AR platform Mesh with Teams and Meta launching their VR meeting spaces, Horizon Workrooms.
Tech giants are not the only ones smelling the prize here. Startups have been racing to create VR office and meeting spaces. This reflects the immense future that virtual offices hold.
The metaverse also shows enormous potential in the education sector. Vriti Saraf, CEO of k20 Educators, gives an example of allowing students via their avatar to enter a 3D human body to explore biology.
VR technology also allows for risk-free professional training, from trainee surgeons operating on a brain, or simulation training for firefighters and soldiers
Music fans in small towns or countries are familiar with having to travel far to attend concerts or festivals. But in a few years, all one might need to do is pop their VR headset on to join a thrilled audience in bopping to their favorite tunes.
This makes a lot of sense for artists, too. Interestingly, the majority of money is made through live shows and events, a $2.21 billion market in 2018.
During the covid pandemic, artists then turned to online and virtual concerts.
Travis Scott famously performed in a historic concert within Fortnite, where millions of fans were taken through an adrenaline-filled experience involving crashing asteroids, underwater exploration and space travel
Justin Bieber performed his latest album on Wave, surrounded by a legion of fans in a virtual meadow backlit by a glowing sun
World famous DJs BamBam and Dimitry & Like Mike are set to be playing in Hypetype, a new VR music festival, in August 2022.
Snoop Dogg filmed his music video for his single “House I Built” completely within the metaverse The Sandbox, with plans for a 2022 virtual concert.
Even then, virtual concerts still allow artists to market merchandise. Swedish pop star Zara Larsson sold millions of dollars worth of digital assets like in-game clothing at her virtual concert within Roblox. Brands, clever as always with product placement, also make their presence known — for example, Travis Scott donning virtual Nike sneakers at his concert.
eSports events, such as world tournaments, are often a grand affair. Highly skilled gaming pros battle it out in grand stadiums, their fights displayed to screaming fans on giant LCD screens. In 2017, Riot Game’s opening ceremony for the League of Legends World Championships even featured a stunningly massive dragon soaring over jaw-dropped fans. While this was of course VR, it speaks to the boundary-breaking streak within the gaming industry.
ESTN has already launched its own blockchain eSports arena, where anyone can create and host their own gaming tournaments. Prize money will be held within their vault, to be distributed via smart contracts.
With regards to taking an immersive experience to the next level, the metaverse is the next logical step. Why settle for watching live games on a screen, when you can actually enter the battleground? Possibly, players can run around bullet-ridden castles (invisible to players of course), while spectating a match between two top-tier teams. It will be greatly interesting to see what developments in this area will occur.
We hope that after reading through this article, our readers have a good understanding of how blockchain and VR technology are being applied toward building the metaverse. It does not only exist for a niche section of gamers, but metaverse technologies are applicable to multiple existing industries.
Are there challenges? Sure. Nobody wants to wear VR goggles 8 hours a day for work, and another 4 hours to socialize and game after that. However, we are not just limited to VR, but also Extended Reality (XR), referring to all “real-and-virtual combined environments and human-machine interactions generated by computer technology and wearables”. Progress in this area is already amazing, like Apple’s AR kit allowing people to see the real world around them, with digital data woven on top of it. It has been suggested that a balanced approach, otherwise known as Mixed Reality (MR), blending the real and virtual world, is the way forward for the metaverse.
Speaking of development, the future growth of the metaverse will be simply explosive. Through the themes of interconnectivity and composability, metaverses will be all connected and building on top of each other. This creates a world where innovation is fueled by itself.
At STEPN, we are undoubtedly trailblazers on the blockchain. It is incredibly exciting to think about the future possibilities the metaverse holds for us and the opportunities that it holds for our users.