Victor Potrel, Forbes Council Member | Vice President of Platform Partnerships at TheSoul Publishing, a digital studio that creates positive and inspiring original content.
Today, it’s impossible to move in the world of publishing, media and marketing without sooner or later bumping into the term “metaverse.” A blend of the words “meta” (ancient Greek for “beyond”) and “universe,” it is defined as “ a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection.”
Innovating In An Innovative Space
Picture yourself being immersed in the internet, in 3D, as opposed to the traditional role of being just a viewer. While in practice the concept of a fully functioning metaverse is still developing, it is bringing the online experience together-seeing the merging of worlds as diverse as fashion and gaming-and providing the ultimate use case for technologies like VR.
Gaming is, to date, the most established developer of metaverse environments, with gaming companies like Roblox and Epic Games topping the list. Launched in 2006 as a gaming platform focused on user-created games, Roblox has 55.1 million daily active users as of early 2022. In comparison, since launching at the end of 2021, Meta’s social VR platform Horizon Worlds has grown tenfold to 300,000 people in just three months.
For brands, the first step is to go into known approaches. Product integration is already making significant strides in the metaverse with a number of high-profile virtual brand launches.
Balenciaga was early in this space, with the launch of its first game in 2020- Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow. Working with Unreal Engine, the game allowed players to explore the brand’s Fall 2021 collection, set in a city in 2031. Balenciaga also became the first high-fashion label to drop a new collection within .
Meeting Your Audience In The Middle
NASCAR also dipped its toe in the water-debuting a customized virtual race car in the popular Jailbreak game on Roblox. Players of the “cops and robbers-style” virtual experience can select the NASCAR Next Gen race car and choose from a variety of game skins to customize their role-playing experience.
The world of music is another area to benefit from the opportunities of the metaverse, with a whole new crop of virtual artists emerging. A new digital music artist, Polar, debuted last year via an exclusive virtual watch party in Lockwood Publishing’s mobile social world, Avakin Life. Close to a million users from all over the world attended this new style of music premiere. If there’s one clear advantage of the metaverse, it’s the ability to bring large global audiences together.
While the vision for how to play a meaningful role in these new worlds is still futuristic for many brands, the value of the metaverse is clear when it comes to engaging with your audience. Millions of users already engage in a form of the metaverse, and the opportunity for long, meaningful interactions is obvious. Not only can you now get a user’s attention as they walk down the street, but you can also do the same as they drive a race car or motorbike down a virtual one.
Real People, Virtual Hangouts
Excitingly for many, worlds previously closed to them have suddenly opened up. Recently, the British Fashion Council held a virtual version of its annual Fashion Awards ceremony. Suddenly the red carpet moved from a selected few viewers in a specific location, to a large, globally dispersed audience. Millions of users can now experience an exclusive world and proudly wear the most expensive of (virtual) fashions as they do it.
This isn’t simply an opportunity to live vicariously through avatars. There is a clear benefit to retailers in creating products that transcend the game. Users of fast-fashion retailer Forever 21’s Shop City Roblox game have the opportunity not only to experiment with and purchase products such as apparel but also to buy some of these items in the real world too. These are the other entertainment formats that have the potential to become massive for businesses in the same way that e-commerce has become a key pillar of the social media experience.
Social media platforms have the capability to connect users with global trends, rather than just what is happening where they live. Many people spend time online simply looking for new points of connection with people that share similar interests. Clearly, the need to connect is built into the expectations of the digital experience.
Watch This Space
For example, the launch of Polar last year was celebrated with an exclusive screening of her video. A virtual space was created and players of the game were invited to watch the premiere in a dedicated place. The event was a success and resonated with the Avakin Life audience worldwide, which spent an average of 7.18 minutes at the event, much longer than the actual video itself. Viewers also went further and created user-generated content, including many videos on how to create their own Polar avatar in Avakin Life.
Looking to the future, there is also a great opportunity to use the metaverse in both professional and personal settings. Many companies are already experimenting with the idea of the meta office and with the ever-increasing hybridization of workforces, this presents an interesting new opportunity to collaborate.
While the metaverse is in an exciting phase of growth, with a number of large investments already committed to its further development, it is still difficult for a large number of companies to fully commit to any type of overall strategy given it is still in the early adopter phase.
However, with some of the biggest tech companies in the world making a clear commitment to building their presence in the metaverse and the vast range of potential applications, there is no doubt that a level of experimentation and testing can set your organization on track for what could be a major shift in how people spend their time in virtual worlds.