What is the Metaverse all about?

August 17, 2022
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August 17, 2022

Eric Wise

But first, here is why we are con­fi­dent that we can com­ment on this topic…
ISBX was launched in 2009 on the bet that Mobile would be the next big thing, and with more than 250 mobile apps and web­sites launched we can say we called that one cor­rect­ly. Our cur­rent client ros­ter and projects include many web 3.0 projects (Cryp­to, NFT’s, VR gam­ing plat­forms, etc.), and in the ear­ly days of the web our core team start­ed work­ing togeth­er at the end of the 90’s on high pro­file web projects for Sony, Hon­da, Coca-Cola, and many oth­ers.  We have been “on it” with soft­ware design and devel­op­ment for the Next Big Thing many times before, and we are obvi­ous­ly pay­ing close atten­tion to the devel­op­ments of the Metaverse.
Ok, about that com­ing Meta­verse… If you are old enough to remem­ber a time before we had the Inter­net, the idea of a “Meta­verse” world where we would all be wear­ing head­sets to expe­ri­ence some­thing like Ernest Cline’s 2011 book “Ready Play­er One” for all our enjoy­ment is a lit­tle scary.  How­ev­er, after div­ing fur­ther into the pre­dic­tions of this com­ing tech evo­lu­tion, and hav­ing been an active par­tic­i­pant in the leap from Web to Mobile expe­ri­ences, there is no rea­son to fear this future.  We also have a fair amount of time in 2022 to get ready for what is com­ing, or for what the major play­ers are plan­ning, but more on that later.
But first, let’s take a step back first to get some con­text on what exact­ly we are talk­ing about with this “Meta­verse”.  The con­cept of a Meta­verse was orig­i­nal­ly coined in Neil Steven­son’s 1982 nov­el, Snow Crash (basi­cal­ly a dystopi­an future), and in 1999 the Wachowski’s cre­at­ed the Matrix uni­verse influ­enced by Snow Crash.  In 2017, Spiel­berg direct­ed the Ready Play­er One movie (based on Cline’s book), which brought the Meta­verse con­cept fur­ther into pop­u­lar cul­ture (again dystopi­an future).  So, there should be no won­der why many peo­ple are con­cerned about this poten­tial future for mankind. 
How­ev­er, ear­ly ver­sions of the Meta­verse are already here, and Gen Z (born 1997 to 2012) and Gen Alpha (born 2010 to 2024) have ful­ly embraced online gam­ing plat­forms such as Roblox and Fort­nite, which are two of the largest vir­tu­al worlds cur­rent­ly in terms of users.  Roblox allows users to pro­gram games, as well as to play games cre­at­ed by oth­er users, which has made it wild­ly suc­cess­ful.  In 2020, Fort­nite had 350 mil­lion reg­is­tered play­ers, and in 2021 Roblox had 199 mil­lion month­ly active users. There are many oth­er small­er vir­tu­al worlds in terms of active play­ers that could be the next big thing, but time will tell who will win out in the end, or if they will all be part of the Meta­verse one day.
But for now, these worlds are closed off from each oth­er. The Meta­verse promise is that one day all will link togeth­er in both the vir­tu­al and real world with the abil­i­ty to have dig­i­tal cur­ren­cy earned, NFT’s pur­chased, Avatars cre­at­ed show­cased in all worlds.  The prob­lem is that cur­rent­ly there are soft­ware inter­op­er­abil­i­ty issues that make this a far off dream.  There is cur­rent­ly no crossover between Unre­al Engine and Uni­ty soft­wares which dom­i­nate this space, and there is a long road to devel­op the infra­struc­ture needed
To build a Meta­verse as envi­sioned by Hol­ly­wood in Ready Play­er One (or God for­bid — the Matrix) we are many years out from the required infra­struc­ture need­ed in terms of net­work­ing, laten­cy, and com­put­ing pow­er to be able to push real time gam­ing for mil­lions of play­ers, even thou­sands of simul­ta­ne­ous play­ers.  Epic Games/Fortnight tout­ed its 2020 Travis Scott live con­cert with 12.5 mil­lion view­ers by pro­duc­ing over 250,000 sep­a­rate copies of the events (with rough­ly 100 users in each instance) that didn’t even start at the same time, it was the only way to make this happen.
A “Social” Meta­verse (non-gam­ing) will be prob­a­bly be next, espe­cial­ly if Face­book, now rebrand­ed Meta, has any­thing to say about it!  Meta been on a buy­ing spree to ensure its future in the Meta­verse.  In addi­tion to own­ing Ocu­lus VR head­sets, which are the gold stan­dard in the VR world, Meta has recent­ly (2022) acquired one of the ear­li­est Meta­verse — Sec­ond Life, this is notable as Sec­ond Life has been around for almost 20 years with over 70 mil­lion reg­is­tered user accounts.  Meta has also acquired five VR game stu­dios in the last three years alone, and was recent­ly stalled by the FTC with its most recent acqui­si­tion of a VR Work­out app “With­in”.  The FTC is con­cerned that Meta is try­ing to “buy its way to the top, “ accord­ing to FTC Bureau of Com­pe­ti­tion Deputy Direc­tor John New­man.  This has not stopped Meta, as they have been spend­ing quite a bit late­ly on a main­stream media explain­ing their vision of the Meta­verse.  It is on bill­boards, TV spots, etc, so it is hard to miss. 
Regard­less of what comes next, rest assured that ISBX will stay on top of these trends, so sign up for our blog for the lat­est updates as this con­tin­ues to develop!
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