The metaverse has been dominating the news for the last 5 months, since the moment that Facebook announced they were rebranding themselves to Meta, a name that cements their commitment to the metaverse. ‘I hope we are seen as a metaverse company said on October 28, 2021; there’s been numerous speculations as to what the brand’s own metaverse will look like, and whether they are indeed the future.  

Although Meta has made metaverses the buzz word, there are other companies that are tapping in the area, such as Microsoft with its acquisition of Activision Blizzard 

In this mailer we would like to explore how close these companies are to establishing their  metaverses. 

The Metaverse explained 

If this is not the first time you’re reading about the metaverse, feel free to skip this part. But if you’re not yet comfortable with the term, Matthew Ball, media expert and writer, defines it as:  

“The Metaverse is a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds which can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users with an individual sense of presence, and with continuity of data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications, and payments.” 

Sounds easy, huh? What he means is that the metaverse will be something similar to the Internet – a space one can connect to at any moment and along with unlimited number of other people. The space has no ending point, it is just out there – and there is infrastructure in place to play, work, consume content, study, do shopping and so much more. But how it differs to the internet, is the greater immersion, as the space will exist in 3D as opposed to 2D. 

Why would Facebook bother to change the name? 

Or in other words, what makes the metaverse so lucrative that even Meta decides to rebrand themselves?  

The answer to this is that Meta, as well as Microsoft, already have a lot of parts that constitute a metaverse. In the same article, Ball has created a comprehensive framework of the metaverses’ core enablers (or crucial elements in other words)

Of these, Meta and Microsoft already possess – or actively develop – the following:  

  • Hardware – think VR glasses, e.g., Oculus at Meta and Hololens at Microsoft; other examples of hardware for the metaverse include mobile phones, sensors, cameras etc. 
  • Compute – computing power that supports data reconciliation and synchronization, artificial intelligence, projection, motion capture etc. These technologies have already been applied to create Meta’s Horizon Worlds, for example. 
  • Networking – bandwidth, latency, and reliability. Microsoft, for instance, has this amazing Flight Simulator that was enabled by the latency and reliability of the underlying network. 
  • Virtual platforms – consumer-facing, interactive and immersive virtual platforms. For Microsoft, Minecraft is one such platform. Whereas Meta is tapping into it with Horizon Worlds. 
  • Interchange tools and platforms – the tools, protocols, formats, services, and engines which enable the creation, operation and ongoing improvements to the metaverse. 
  • Payment services – the support of digital payment processes. For example, Meta have been experimenting with Novi wallet that operates on the virtual currency called ‘stablecoins’, and Microsoft might have plans to expand its Microsoft Pay. 

So, it seems that Meta and Microsoft have entered a marathon of building the infrastructure for the metaverse to then let the creators, users and content producers populate it with information and content. It’s likely they’re not too worried about any absence of own-brand-created content – they believe that content providers will stand in line to become a part of the metaverse.  

What is interesting, is that there are other major, global companies looking to build a metaverse; Disney being one of them. Unlike Meta and Microsoft, Disney has a treasure trove of content and IP – but contrastingly, not other metaverse core enablers (remember the chart above) beyond that.  

The future 

So, what will the future look like? Many metaverses by several tech giants, or, one huge omniverse with real-life brands connecting to it? Will Disney be successful at building their own tech stack, or will they form a partnership with the existing one? The latter is the way we’d expect them to go.  What’s clear is that it’s still early days – it’s foggy in the metaverse today, but let us see what the forecast tells us about tomorrow!