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The Metaverse: What Is It?

Find out what a “metaverse” is in general, from its history to brand collaborations, and how you may use it in your current company operations.

You might imagine a person playing a video game while donning a large headset that covers most of their face when you think about the metaverse.

It’s not unexpected that the metaverse was first used in digital gaming.

But Mr. Zuckerberg would not have staked his entire business on it if the metaverse were just a giant video game.

The name of the firm Mark Zuckerburg started 20 years ago, Facebook, was changed from Facebook to Meta in 2021, and the idea of the “metaverse” transitioned from being a fringe and futuristic concept to a commonplace business strategy.

This article will examine the definition of the term “metaverse,” its historical background, and the ways in which it has evolved and will continue to evolve.

Let’s start now

What Is The Metaverse?

The metaverse is characterized by Meta as “the next evolution in social connection and the successor to the mobile internet.”

Although this definition is largely accurate, it’s crucial to understand that neither Meta nor any other company have control over the metaverse.

In fact, at this point it would be more fair to refer to multiple virtual spaces collectively as metaverses rather than just one.

Any 3D virtual environment supported by technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain that enables interactivity between people (and, in some cases, non-human avatars) is referred to as a metaverse.

There are many metaverses existing today.

Most of them were created by individual companies and serve a particular purpose. There is little to no interoperability among metaverses, as the standards of sharing user identities and data across different metaverse spaces haven’t been developed yet.

The History Of The Metaverse

Science fiction author Neal Stephenson coined the phrase “metaverse” in his 1992 book “Snow Crash.” In the book, Mr. Stephenson paints a picture of a 3D virtual world that readers may virtually enter.

Hiro, the protagonist of the book, uses a personal terminal to connect to the metaverse and project 3D virtual reality visuals onto his goggles. In actuality, “Snow Crash” is the name of a data file that Hiro’s avatar got in the metaverse. Hiro’s avatar interacts with other people’s avatars in the metaverse.

Putting fiction aside, consumers were introduced to and largely adapted the metaverse through digital gaming. When Pokémon Go was released in 2016, it revolutionized smartphone gaming by fusing augmented reality.

Since then, multiplayer games like Roblox, Fortnite, and Minecraft have offered a digital setting where users can communicate with each other through avatars, laying the groundwork for the metaverse.

By 2023, the metaverse has been developed and is being used in sectors other than gaming.

The term “metaverse marketing” is rising in popularity among consumer brands. Major global corporations, including JP Morgan, Nike, Adidas, and McDonald’s, all have projects to take advantage of the metaverse’s marketing potential.

As a result, our global economy gains a new dimension and a new level of interconnectedness.

The management consulting company McKinsey & Company predicted that by 2030, the metaverse would bring in $5 trillion for companies.

How Is The Metaverse Different From The Internet?

Despite the fact that the metaverse is sometimes seen as the internet’s next evolution, there are important contrasts between the two.

A network of websites make up the internet as we currently know it.

Websites were first only made for the purpose of disseminating information.

Today, websites are used for a variety of activities, including communication, entertainment, and shopping. Social networks’ advent transformed the internet into a platform for individuals to interact and share their lives.

Despite how big the internet is, it still serves as a location for people to generate and share knowledge on events that occurred in the “real world.”

The metaverse, on the other hand, is a virtual setting where people “live” their virtual selves. The events taking place in the metaverse and the information it contains could not be related to the “real world.”

In other words, the internet is a virtual realm that lives alongside the real world, whereas the metaverse is an extension of it.

To understand this difference, consider posting pictures of a dinner gathering with your friends on social media versus having a virtual gathering with your friends in the metaverse.

In the metaverse, you can go about many of your everyday life’s day-to-day interactions and occurrences in your avatar form.

Your avatar can interact with other people’s avatars.

You can conduct many activities in the virtual world as you do in the real world, such as buying and selling goods, attending concerts, going to museums, building or renovating a house, and more.

How NFT And Cryptocurrency Made The Metaverse Possible

The metaverse requires a system to facilitate business transactions in order to make it possible for businesses to operate there.

There are two difficulties in trading goods and services in the virtual world.

It must first have a method for calculating value. The metaverse needs a means to verify the veracity of the items and the owners as any digital goods may be simply copied and replicated.

You probably don’t want to spend the same price for any digital items that are copies of the originals – even though they appear the same – just as you wouldn’t pay the same price for an unreliable automobile or an imitation Gucci.

The metaverse also need a method for conducting business online. It requires digital money.

Cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFT) can help in this situation.

Blockchain technology underpins NFTs and cryptocurrencies alike. Although the technologies are extremely complex, understanding how they are used is quite straightforward.

NFT functions as a document, much like the title to a home. The NFT cannot be duplicated and is therefore always linked to the original, even though the digital output itself can. Consequently, they are known as non-fungible tokens.

Cryptocurrency and the metaverse go together naturally. Since the metaverse is virtual, it is constantly active, self-sufficient, and opens up amazing commercial opportunities. And a lot of these opportunities have cryptocurrencies as their foundation.

The advent of Bitcoin in 2009 kicked off the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies over the last decade. However, across the metaverse, Ethereum, which also supports NFTs, is the most popular cryptocurrency.

It’s also common for metaverse platforms to create their own versions of cryptocurrency. For example, the popular NFT art collection marketplace, Bored Ape Yacht Club, has its own cryptocurrency called ApeCoin.

How Do You Get Into The Metaverse?

There isn’t a standardized way to get into the metaverse right now. It’s possible that different metaverse platforms have various specifications. However, you may typically begin exploring the metaverse with a computer or a mobile device that you currently own.
You normally need to create a user account in order to access this site, just like any other platform on the internet.

Most platforms let users sign up for nothing. You would need to create a bitcoin wallet if you wanted to do any business.

However, a VR headset like the Oculus Quest 2 is required to enjoy the immersive experience that the metaverse is best known for.

How Major Brands Are Getting Involved

A few of the companies getting ready for the metaverse are well-known brands like Nike, Adidas, and Vans.
Nike applied for multiple trademarks in October 2021 for its well-known catchphrases and logos (such as “Just Do It” and the recognizable checkmark), enabling it to produce and market virtual goods.

This also happened at the same time when Mark Zuckerberg revealed Meta.

Later that year, Nike declared that it had acquired the virtual shoe business RTFKT studios, which would aid it in producing footwear for the metaverse. For shoe enthusiasts worldwide, this is excellent news.

Adidas is entering the metaverse by working with other artists to create special collectibles for NFT projects, which have now sold out. Together, its NFT sales exceeded $22 million.

One of the first companies to not only release NFTs but to actually invest in the metaverse ecosystem itself, the brand has affirmed the NFT community by investing in NFTs as a company and has bought a large plot of land in the metaverse to host virtual parties and events. Vans is also getting involved, having built an online skate park that has already seen upwards of 48 million visitors.

But while some brands are sold on the metaverse, others are more hesitant to get involved. With pandemic restrictions easing, many consumers have been eager to connect in person, drawing their interest away from virtual meeting places.

In addition to this, the rise of generative AI as a tool has become a shiny new tool that has captured the interest of both consumers and brands.

These are just a couple of reasons why the metaverse has taken off with some brands but not others.

Advertising And Marketing To Gen Z

Reaching Gen Z consumers is one of the main goals for firms trying to enter the metaverse.

Gen Z, who grew up with technology, has shown to be difficult to advertise to since they have a technological intuition unmatched by prior generations.

According to several assessments, Gen Z does not see much difference between their digital and real lives, placing equal value on both. Social media and the virtual world are not independent worlds; rather, they are further extensions of their more immediate, physical reality.

Additionally, it brings global friendships into the present and exposes them to businesses they might not otherwise encounter.

This boasts a two-fold impact on marketing and selling potential for brands: exposure is unlimited by physical constraints, and physical and digital goods become players of equal value.

According to Nike’s example, a virtual sneaker has the power to compete and is not less valuable because it exists in the digital world.

It should come as no surprise that brands must explore digital innovation if their target audience is going online.

Advertising in the metaverse will be required as the metaverse takes on a more and bigger role as a marketing and commercial channel.

New types of advertising will appear.

B2B Metaverse: Virtual Conferences And Workplaces

Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) brands both benefit from the metaverse.

The epidemic ushered humanity into a brand-new era of technological innovation and sparked a critical demand for cutting-edge solutions that would enable us to carry on with our regular commercial operations from home.

Companies that relied on conventions and trade exhibitions needed to change direction quickly.

Businesses and guests can save money on travel, housing, and other associated expenses by holding meetings virtually thanks to the metaverse.

Numerous start-ups, such as Flox and Virtway Events, are trying to seize the opportunities by offering platforms for businesses to create immersive virtual conferences and events.

Conclusion

The metaverse is only just beginning. Some businesses and brands are grabbing hold of the chance to be a part of this new world even though its infrastructure is still being built.

But it’s important to keep in mind that although some companies seem to be stepping back from their metaverse endeavors, others seem to be rushing in headfirst.

Early in 2023, both Disney and Microsoft made the announcement that their respective metaverse divisions would be closing. Given that some of the staff members of its metaverse section were let go during recent corporate layoffs, even Meta appears to be modestly reducing its efforts.

But this doesn’t mean the metaverse is going away – far from it.

Much like the internet in the 90s, the metaverse has great potential to shape businesses and people’s lives. The technologies, usages, and business models around the metaverse are rapidly evolving.

As the proliferation of websites highlighted Web 1.0 and the adoption of social media represented Web 2.0, the metaverse could be the signature for Web 3.0.

No one knows how the metaverse will evolve in the future. But one thing is certain – it’s no longer science fiction. It’s already here.

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