Metaverse, an opportunity for brands and companies
Luz Parrondo , Director of the Postgraduate in Blockchain and other DLT Technologies
Facebook has changed its name. From now on it will be called Meta . The famous social network has decided to reinvent itself and be reborn as a metaverse. "In the years to come, I hope that people will go from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a metaverse company. In many ways, the metaverse is the maxim expression of social technology, "said its founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The term "social technology" is not new, it has existed since the beginning of the 19th century and is understood as a space to build social relationships between people who, for example, share interests, activities, backgrounds or connections in real life. The metaverse is the evolution of social technology and refers to a collection of digital worlds, where the defining quality is presence, that is, the feeling of actually being there with people, which allows creating an immersive and multisensory experience in the applied use of various devices and technological developments on the internet.
Blockchain has the potential to confer the Metaverse the rank of "society"
But the experience goes beyond sensoriality and immersion. In metaverses the participants interact not only socially but also economically. This virtual ecosystem relies on blockchain technology to tokenize its assets, both monetary and non-monetary, creating an efficient financial and business system. In other words, blockchain has the potential to confer to the ecosystem the rank of “society”. The possibility of transferring value person to person allows us to open (real) businesses, where we can work and earn a (real) salary, where to buy a (digital) plot and build a (digital) house and where to buy luxury items, such as a handbag from Gucci (digital), with money (real).
Last year, Roblox, a video game platform announced that it had sold an edition of Gucci virtual bags in its metaverse. Roblox is a free and social online multiplayer game. Users can shape their worlds with pieces of different sizes and materials. It is something very similar to creating your worlds with Lego pieces that you can then share with other users. These types of platforms are becoming a virtual extension of the real world, and fashion brands have been among the first to seize the opportunity.
On Roblox, users regularly update their avatars with new clothes, new hairstyles, and different accessories using digital items. Anyone can build and sell designs on the platform, so why not go further. In the last year, Gucci and Vans have created completely custom worlds on Roblox. Gucci garnered approximately 20 million views, and hundreds of thousands of users purchased its items. Vans created an interactive store where users can customize their own shoes and a space to attend virtual concerts. Neil Rimer, Partner at Index Ventures, explained that “... given the number of people who have made Roblox a central part of their digital life, it is natural that fashion houses and in general all kinds of other businesses see Roblox as a new way to connect with people and be part of their experiences. "
The metaverse is a space where companies can experiment with their products before transferring them to the physical world
Videogames are the precursors of the metaverse because from the beginning they have created communities in virtual worlds that interact and socialize globally. But blockchain technology and asset tokenization are changing the rules of the game by diluting the difference between the real and the virtual. The alternatives are not fact or fiction, now the dichotomy is based on virtual or physical experiences, both completely real. New technologies allow us to create systems for the exchange of value between the members of a virtual community, laying the foundations for a full society where we can integrate all kinds of real projects.
Native blockchain companies have their natural environment in the metaverse since they are virtual from the beginning. Therefore, it is not surprising that KuCoin has announced the opening of a virtual cryptocurrency exchange office within the skyscraper of the Bloktopia metaverse. KuCoin will rent an office within this skyscraper and is expected to host other service providers such as Avalanch, a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform.
But it's not all about games, crypto-services or fashion. NVIDIA, the well known graphics processor company has created NVIDIA Omniverse. This metaverse enables designers, artists, and developers to work together on software applications within a shared virtual world from anywhere and in real time. Professionals from more than 500 companies, including SHoP Architects, South Park, and Lockheed Martin, are evaluating the platform. Since its open beta launch in December 2020, Omniverse has been downloaded by more than 50,000 individual creators. NVIDIA Omniverse connects worlds by enabling that the vision of the metaverse becomes a reality.
Perhaps we should coin a new term to define this parallel world, because the metaverse, more than a virtual reality, looks like a “real virtuality”
Beyond fun and anecdote, the metaverse is an immersive and connected shared virtual world where artists can create unique digital scenes, architects can create buildings, engineers can design products, and fashion houses can design collections. A space where companies can experiment with their products before transferring them to the physical world. Perhaps we should coin a new term to define this parallel world, because the metaverse, more than a virtual reality, looks like a “real virtuality”.
In future articles we will analyze the implications of this process, which seems as exciting as it is risky.