It’s easy to dismiss the metaverse as overhyped, and a lot more difficult to imagine how something that doesn’t fully exist could be an $800 billion market opportunity. But the real issue is not whether the metaverse will be significant but when and for who.
As a new gateway to digital experiences, the metaverse eliminates geography and opens up exciting new possibilities for entertainment, arts, collaboration and productivity. If poised to become the successor to the web as we know it, you only have to look at the world’s most valuable internet companies like Google and Amazon to see the potential.
Backed by billion-dollar investment programs, we are now witnessing a deeper shift toward the digital economy. Accelerated by the global pandemic but also enabled by major technological developments—everything from the blockchain to cloud technology and 5G. To better understand the changes to come, consider how these five industries will be revolutionized.
The video game industry has already undergone a seismic metamorphosis since its inception. Several metaverse concepts, such as 3D avatars and world-building, can already be found in early immersive games like Sim City, Minecraft and Second Life. And the key trend toward online, interactive and more immersive gaming will only continue.
Roblox, a leading metaverse player with a collection of games and metaverse experiences, saw daily active users grow from 32.6 million in 2020 to nearly 50 million in 2021. It has also signed multiple brand partnerships that include the NFL, Ralph Lauren, Nike and more. Meanwhile, rival Epic Games has announced a $1 billion funding round to compete.
In terms of market size, the gaming industry outperformed both movies and sports combined in 2020. As the metaverse unfolds, gaming companies will continue to unlock major new revenue streams by hosting music concerts, monetizing virtual goods and scooping up major brand deals. And jobs related to this industry—including play-to-earn gigs—could grow exponentially.
Media And Entertainment
How we consume media content is certainly influenced by technology. From traditional media to social media and from live TV to online streaming, the metaverse is just another way to create and consume. It not only overcomes physical boundaries but fulfills our human desire to connect, tell stories and share experiences.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, in-person media and entertainment, everything from attending movie theaters to concert halls and sports stadiums, came to a grinding halt. As a result, several artists such as Imagine Dragons, Ariana Grande and others held their first VR concerts. These experiences opened the doors to VR entertainment and expanded access beyond physical factors, such as location or venue capacity.
Now, many of the world’s biggest media and entertainment companies, including Disney, are looking for ways to engage their fans and audiences with metaverse experiences and events. Disney’s Chief Executive Bob Chapek, who recently appointed an executive to oversee its metaverse strategy, describes it as “the next great storytelling frontier” and a strategic priority.
Ecommerce And Retail
Looking at the meteoric rise of major ecommerce players such as Amazon, eBay and Shopify, similar consumer adoption of the metaverse is the next big retail opportunity. Millions of people are already logging into existing metaverses on a daily basis, representing a major new channel for brands to tap into, from new revenue streams to organic marketing.
3D and AR allow customers to better visualize their potential purchases and are proven to help in making better-informed decisions leading to fewer product returns. Shopify merchants that added 3D images to their stores experienced, on average, 94% higher conversions. As online retailers begin to adopt 3D and AR en masse, the shift to VR and the metaverse is next.
Cate Trotter from Insider Trends argues that “the metaverse may do more to change retail than anything since the physical store.” And with customers increasingly used to mixed reality experiences, the next generation of e-commerce is emerging.
The ability to render and simulate 3D prototypes was a game changer for this industry. Manufacturing involves a lot of complicated logistical and technical parts, which is why today’s manufacturing strategies are based on optimizing for different objectives. But ultimately, it’s a careful balance between labor costs, overheads, inventory and speed.
Imagine running a full production cycle in a virtual simulation. That’s exactly what BMW did, allowing the German car manufacturer to test changes one by one inside a virtual factory without stopping production. In this way, the metaverse promises to unlock greater efficiencies and empower more people to design, invent and produce.
Architecture And Engineering
For architects, the metaverse represents a whole new territory unbound by the constraints of the physical world. Not only will architects be needed to help fulfill the huge content needs that the metaverse presents—literally creating the buildings, cities and real estate that will host all metaverse activities—but it will also be a place where they can work more creatively and effectively.
Architects will be able to get together in the same room to share ideas and create designs using multiple screens and software all in one place. Nvidia’s Omniverse, in partnership with 3D content producers like our company, is one such virtual platform where anyone, including architects and engineers, can collaborate on the same 3D assets from anywhere in the world.
To help understand the impact of the metaverse, we focused on five industries. But as a blank canvas that will need to be filled with an unprecedented amount of 3D content, it will also be a huge opportunity for 3D creators, developers and designers. Of course, there are countless more industries that will be impacted. And within each one, new opportunities and jobs will emerge.
Although still evolving, the grand vision for a virtual reality space for socializing, play, work and commerce has never been closer. At the moment, existing metaverse platforms are not connected. But eventually, it should be possible for users to seamlessly move from one platform to the next, keeping all their accumulated assets and avatars.