Right now, gaming companies are racing to create the parts and pieces that will eventually become part of the metaverse – a shared, persistent virtual network that can be an extension of the real world.
And the game companies’ race makes perfect sense. After all, any VR game could potentially become part of the metaverse in the future. The key will be to link all the games together to allow users to move from one to the next in a seamless way, and keep the same avatar and accessories if they want to.
Eric Sweeney, CEO of gaming platform Epic, explained his vision of the metaverse in his 2020 DICE Summit keynote:
"A move away from a whole bunch of walled gardens into something that's increasingly open and comes to resemble, by the end of this decade, an open metaverse, in which players get together with their friends and they go from game experience to game experience, staying together as a group as friends, going across all platforms and not having to worry about what company made the device they're on, or what company's operating the servers they're playing on as they go through these experiences."
Gaming is the method a lot of people will use to step into the metaverse for the first time. Here are some things that are possible (or could be possible) with metaverse gaming:
- Go head-to-head with players from all over the world
- Brand new sports and games that haven’t been developed yet
- Video calls between active avatars
- Games that keep releasing fresh content, to build large and loyal followings
Of course, many of these features are available now, on individual platforms or games – the trick to building the metaverse will be getting the functionality to work across platforms in a seamless way, for the ultimate gaming experience.
The Metaverse Gaming Leaders
So what companies are on the forefront of building a metaverse that looks like Sweeney’s vision?
Epic (operator of Fortnite) completed a $1 billion round of funding in April 2021, which will allow the company to accelerate their vision for the metaverse. Epic's equity valuation is now $28.7 billion, and Epic just acquired Harmonix, the studio that created musical games like Rock Band and Fuser. Epic says they will work with Harmonix to bring musical experiences to the metaverse.
Microsoft celebrated the 20th anniversary of the original Xbox's launch with a virtual gallery where Xbox players can wander as avatars. The company is calling it an Xbox metaverse, and it displays a museum of the company’s highlights and significant dates, as well as personal highlights from the player’s Xbox career. In the museum, you can see the avatars of other Xbox owners, which fulfills the idea of it being a metaverse.
Roblox is trying to design and build a virtual world that caters to players’ needs and emphasizes the importance of connection in virtual spaces. The company wants to facilitate a safe atmosphere while providing tools to maintain relationships over time. Another key will be giving players the ability to find a wide-ranging array of activities they can do with other players in real-time.
Pokemon Go creator, Niantic just raised a $300 million funding round, and they plan to use it to build a real-world metaverse. Niantic wants to bring people into the virtual world without being stuck to a VR headset. The company’s founder and CEO John Hanke believes the real world metaverse can use technology to improve people’s experiences in the real world.
Meta is investing heavily in building out the VR and AR ecosystem, to set the foundation for metaverse gaming. It also has the social media connections that can help enable connectivity and communication within metaverse games.
If you would like to learn more about the rise of virtual and augmented reality, check out my book, Extended Reality in Practice: 100+ Amazing Ways Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality Are Changing Business and Society.