by Adesina Abdulhameed
The metaverse is a digital reality popular among gamers and Web3 enthusiasts. For businesses, building a presence in a metaverse means attracting the attention of potential customers, creating a unique experience, and establishing a more forward-looking digital presence.
Virtual reality isn’t just for gaming anymore! Businesses have begun recognizing how immersive, user-driven virtual experiences can reach customers in ways unlike ever before, and one powerful medium is the metaverse. A metaverse is a virtual space that replicates the real world. It feels natural and has enormous potential. Establishing a brand in a metaverse is an opportunity to boost innovation and explore new options in an exciting virtual space.
Digital replicas of the real world aren’t new. The game Second Life, for example, was launched in 2003, complete with a digital currency (Linden dollars), avatars, buildings, and more. However, the word “metaverse” wasn’t widely used back then, even though the term has been around since 1992 (it was first used in Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel Snow Crash. Now, the concept of a bustling virtual reality is gaining traction).
Technology, hardware, and software have all gotten better. Cryptocurrencies and NFTs that didn’t exist in the 90s or early 2000s have helped the space explode. Most notably, Facebook’s rebrand to “Meta” brought significant attention to the metaverse. The metaverse market, growing from what was solely meant for gamers, garnered a whopping 81 million users and has a projected market value of $758.6 billion by 2026, according to the Globe Newswire. With such rapid expansion, it’s no question that the metaverse is the future of immersive content.
Even though many would argue that the metaverse is still in its early stages and that it’s too soon to predict how businesses can leverage the emerging industry, the existing features are enough for companies to key into this technology of the future.
How can businesses leverage the metaverse?
There are multiple ways businesses can leverage the metaverse, including building a digital twin of their real-world storefronts and participating in or sponsoring virtual events. It might be games or competitions that allow users to participate and, most importantly, benefit from the game’s valuables, which can serve as real-life incentives.
An example is Axie Infinity, a play-to-earn with over two million active users so far. JPMorgan recently launched a lounge and virtual bank in the metaverse. Businesses can easily create a metaverse-themed restaurant or an online store where people order digital clothing for their avatars. Believe it or not, many people have no issue spending money on digital accessories for their avatars. Users in the metaverse want their avatar to reflect who they are, which means they are willing to fork over time and money to create the life of their dreams in the digital realm.
Companies and establishments can partner with already-popular metaverse platforms like Decentraland and Sandbox, where they can offer their services or products as NFTs. They can also join Horizon Worlds or AltspaceVR, both of which are available on the VR headset Meta Quest 2. The idea behind virtual reality is to experience a complete life; therefore, bringing real-life services and selling them through the virtual world is a unique approach to leveraging the metaverse.
In the game Second Life mentioned above, some avatars work jobs in their virtual reality. If you can’t picture it, imagine this scenario: Two people in a long-distance relationship in real life meet in the metaverse to go on a date. They go to a virtual restaurant and order food. In that restaurant are other people (represented by avatars) who “work” as servers and are paid by the virtual restaurant owner. The couple could also visit a virtual ski lodge, romantic lake, or historic town and buy virtual flowers, jewelry, and other items. Yes, all with real money.
The metaverse blows the doors open to a new digital economy.
Companies can also go as far as selling shares as NFTs or tokens native to their companies. This allows users to easily invest in a company just like they already do with the game tokens. As stated earlier, participating through the creation of gadgets and tools targeted at the metaverse is another way of exploring the potential of metaverse by businesses. You can create in an existing metaverse instead of building a new metaverse (although global companies such as Accenture have already leaped).
Another opportunity for businesses is fulfilling the need for state-of-the-art equipment to access the metaverse by creating gadgets that improve the user experience, from specially designed gaming setups (think straps to make headsets more comfortable) to real-life “VR Bars” where people can eat and drink physically in between playing virtually.
Not every business needs to view the metaverse from a creator’s perspective; an auxiliary perspective is also great. Building a company around the metaverse concept by producing products aiding greater user experience is an excellent approach to leveraging the industry.
Leveraging the metaverse through cryptocurrency
Businesses must be willing to explore the unending possibilities of the crypto industry alongside metaverse to create spectacular offerings for users. A virtual reality marketplace where people would love to transact but would also love to remain anonymous is another unique possibility that can be explored with the metaverse.
Cryptocurrency grew exponentially because people loved the idea of something they had control over regarding decentralization and, most importantly, anonymity in transactions, unlike conventional banking. By combining both innovating realms of metaverse and crypto, companies can more effectively and securely cater to a digital community of potential consumers.
At present, metaverse and virtual reality remain a niched industry appealing to only a fraction of the populace, primarily gamers. Thus, any innovation that would thrive in this emerging sector should be gaming friendly and acceptable. Understanding the true potential of the metaverse remains the only viable way to leverage the opportunities inherent in this future technology.
The world leaders of the metaverse industry—like Sandbox, Axie Infinity, and Decentraland—are all game and cryptocurrency themed, thus showing who the present consumers and target audience of the metaverse are.