The metaverse refers to the concept of a more 3D and immersive form of the internet that has the potential to unlock new opportunities for virtually any business, with early estimates predicting an economic contribution of more than $3 trillion by 2031.
But a 2022 report from Credit Suisse predicts that gaming, entertainment, work collaboration, social media, virtual worlds, education and fitness will be most impacted by the Metaverse in the near future.
In a paper titled Metaverse: A Guide to the Next Generation Internet, the Swiss bank explains what the Metaverse is all about, explores its main components, and dives into current use cases and future trends.
According to the paper, video games will play a central role in the Metaverse, as these platforms are already built on immersive experiences with 3D graphics, virtual reality (VR)-enabled games and platforms for user creativity.
That sentiment is echoed by consulting firm EY, which surveyed gaming executives and found that a majority of industry players (97%) believe the gaming industry is the center of the metaverse today. All respondents expect companies from all industries to build metaverses in the near future.
Gaming companies have been pioneers in this field, and they have built early prototypes of the Metaverse by combining virtual worlds with elements such as in-game social features, payment systems, and digital assets. Examples include Minecraft, Fortnite, and Roblox, three very popular games. Roblox has more than 200 million monthly active users, Minecraft has 170 million, and Fortnite has 80 million.
In the near future, gaming platforms will be further enhanced with metaverses, potentially allowing gamers to turn into holograms and visually appear with someone from another place, the Credit Suisse report says.
In entertainment, Metaverse opens up new opportunities in the form of virtual concerts, virtual theme parks, immersive movie experiences and more. The report notes that virtual events and environments offer numerous advantages in the entertainment industry, including the ability to attract larger audiences and opportunities for fan interaction and special effects.
In 2019, American music producer and DJ Marshmello made headlines for hosting a live concert in Fortnite. 10.7 million people attended the event. Since then, other artists including Travis Scott, Ariana Grande, Blake Pink and Justin Bieber have staged concerts and virtual universe shows that have attracted millions of attendees .
In the social media space, a number of companies have entered the metaverse as a way to expand connectivity through the use of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), the Credit Suisse report notes.
Facebook changed its name to Meta and moved to the Metaverse in October 2021. The company has spent a staggering $100 billion on Metaverse R&D so far, hitting $15 billion last year alone.
In workspaces, the Metaverse brings new opportunities to rethink offices and work environments, potentially leading to higher levels of social connection, mobility, and collaboration.
In India, NextMeet provides staff, attendees and students with an immersive avatar-based VR platform to meet, work and collaborate. In the UK, PixelMax helps businesses create immersive virtual workplaces, giving them advanced features including wellness zones, third-party integrations, and personalized and interactive avatars.
Other prominent use cases for the Metaverse outlined in the Credit Suisse paper include commerce, where virtual environments offer merchants, businesses, and creators new ways to showcase and sell their products and services; fitness, VR-supported exercise and sports; and education, through Virtual campuses and universities, and hands-on practice in key areas such as medical training.
While the Metaverse industry is still in its infancy and, at this point in time, largely conceptual, investors have poured billions of dollars into the space, bullish on the prospect of virtual environments triggering the next wave of digital disruption.
Consulting firm McKinsey estimates that in the first five months of 2022, more than $120 billion was invested in building metaverse technologies and infrastructure. That figure is more than double the $57 billion invested in all of 2021.
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