The metaverse was introduced as a marketing concept last year when Mark Zuckerberg began talking about it as the next big thing. By October, he had renamed Facebook as Meta and by April of this year, was “driving employees nuts” with his vision for the metaverse.
So how is the metaverse taking shape so far? What should marketers be aware of?
Here’s where the metaverse stands right now:
It’s not that new: Super League Gaming CEO and Chairwoman Ann Hand told Bloomberg that metaverse games like Minecraft have been around for a decade or so. Hand sees “the big meta” as a ways off. “It’s kind of like the Internet in 1995,” she said. The Internet failed in a lot of ways, most notably in advertising, which became disruptive on the Internet. Hand said the goal is to “meet [participants] right where they are in games and then enhance the experience.” Interestingly, Hand says that members of Gen Z don’t see a difference between their physical and digital selves.
It’s a marketing term: “The conceptual idea is a shared 3D world that uses [virtual reality] and [augmented reality] and has tens of thousands of people, and it’s all interoperable. But right now, the best definition of the metaverse is that it’s kind of a catch-all marketing term that a lot of different companies are using to convey the value they see in their potential future products,” said Eric Ravenscraft, product writer and reviewer at Wired.
VR, a key component of the metaverse, isn’t for everyone: Writing in The Conversation, Adrian Ma, assistant professor for Journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University notes that a significant portion of the population finds the metaverse just isn’t appealing. “It’s possible that using VR is inherently unappealing for a significant number of people, particularly for frequent use,” Ma writes.
The metaverse is a “logical evolution” of the Internet: Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta, argued in a Medium post that the metaverse is the next step in the Internet’s evolution: “It’s the next generation of the Internet—a more immersive, 3D experience. Its defining quality will be a feeling of presence, like you are right there with another person or in another place.”