The dream of gaming is simple: a fully immersive user experience. Players don’t want to stay stuck behind a screen, confined to two dimensions. They want to be there – in the action – in the world of the game. But until now, they’ve been restricted by the limitations of current technology.
Immersive games like Minecraft or Elder Scrolls incorporated ideas such as world-building, free roam and 3D avatars – but ultimately, they’re just the beginning steps in a much bigger development: the metaverse.
Companies like Meta, formerly Facebook, and Epic Games are attempting to build their own connective universes of virtual realities. Mark Zuckerberg envisions a metaverse of fake homes and virtual avatars. But, in reality, gaming is a prime candidate for the metaverse revolution.
In fact, it may finally be fulfilling the early dream of gaming. A gaming experience so interactive, you’re no longer playing the game; you’re in it!
For publishers and gaming studios, the metaverse is a way to attract new players and innovate gaming like never before. Nor is it just AAA studios embracing the metaverse; indie small- and medium-sized game studios also stand to benefit immensely.
What even is the metaverse?
Published in 2011, few books explore gaming and the metaverse more than Ready Player One. Adapted into a movie by Stephen Spielberg, the story is set in 2045 and describes a world where people escape the miseries of everyday life by plugging into the OASIS – a parallel virtual universe, where everyone can be anyone.
Inside the OASIS, users can participate in colossal gaming events as crazy as they are realistic. Pop culture icons tower over players in a fully immersive and believable virtual world.
That’s just one vision of the metaverse, however.
In reality, discussing the metaverse at present is a little like chatting about the internet in the 1970s. Everyone’s heard of the concept, but no one’s entirely sure what it’ll look like when it arrives.
To quote David Bowie on the internet back in 1998: “We’re on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying. The actual content and the state of content is going to be so different to anything we can envisage at the moment.”
The same is true of the metaverse – and nothing will be more impacted than gaming studios and publishers.
How is the metaverse being used in gaming?
The potential of the metaverse is limitless. It is to the virtual world what the internet is to websites. Meaning there are also numerous ways game studios and publishers can use the metaverse to engage more players and integrate new ideas and methods into the gaming experience.
Over the past decade, gaming has morphed into an integrative user experience, including playing, watching, and interacting with others. The metaverse is the logical next step – a game you’re inside rather than just looking at.
But it also creates the potential for real virtual assets within the game. Already, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are increasing in popularity as a form of digital asset: uses the blockchain for verification. However, these won’t just be 2D pictures in the metaverse – they’ll be clothes, objects, data, or gaming assets like armour, weapons, and more.
For example, in September 2021, exclusive fashion designer Balenciaga partnered with Epic Games to create outfits, accessories, and weaponry for their hit game Fortnite. Even Burberry and Louis Vuitton are releasing their own in-game NFTs.
It’s not hard to see indie small- and medium-sized game studios and publishers partnering with other brands in exclusive and lucrative deals. Moreover, small design brands may even develop, producing digital NFT content solely for metaverse gaming.
Backed by the blockchain, brands could develop reputations for their interesting designs. Picture characters, skins, weapons, and more only you can own – truly personalised user content with an exclusive price tag.
What are the Metaverse benefits for gaming creators?
Like any new technology, there’s a chance for new studios and publishers to push the creative limits of the technology. Virtual events, for instance, will allow gamers and industry insiders to connect. Watch in virtual arenas with others around the world as top gamers battle it out. Or explore amazing, evolving virtual worlds, from crazy space adventures to fun, indie mini-games to play with your friends.
Decentraland, for instance, has probably done more than any company to expand this vision. Inside Decentraland, users can experience scenes and structures created by other players, or they can design and build their own.
That’s the future – ever increasing flexibility in games, where users create their own content and build mini-games within a game.
Meanwhile, on Fortnite, over 12 million people attended a virtual concert; and Roblox and Gucci developed a virtual Gucci Garden space, selling the finished piece alongside their limited-edition virtual bags. Indeed, virtual currency purchases for Roblox rose 161% in the second quarter of 2021 to $652.3 million.
Soon, as the technology becomes ever more commonplace, indie game studios and publishers will start creating their own bespoke content. These created gaming worlds won’t be separate as they are now. There will be no Facebook Metaverse or EA metaverse – thankfully!
Instead, the gaming environment will be a platform-like space for all activities. It’ll be a creative marketplace where gaming studios and publishers host concerts, social events, and gaming tournaments. They’ll be vendors selling unique NFT content – think bespoke guns, gear, and accessories.
In short: gaming studios are only limited by their imagination. The future of the metaverse is whatever they make it.
The bottom line
The metaverse is an innovation unlike any before it. It’s the promise of a virtual world fulfilled. For game studios and publishers, it’s an insane leap forward. But to make the most of the opportunity will take some out-of-the-box thinking.
Roblox’s chief marketing officer, Barbara Messing, offered a little advice to gaming brands ready to take advantage of the metaverse: “What emotions and memories do I want them to take away from this experience? How do I want them to come back and engage with me again?”
And, in a nutshell, that’s what the metaverse is: a game-changing experience… literally.