Embracing the Metaverse: How the Virtual World is Changing Mobile
The metaverse as a concept is not new. Digital worlds like Second Life have existed for nearly 20 years, creating a virtualized, avatar-driven experience that offers monetization through virtual goods and property.
Yet with Facebook restructuring itself as Meta and launching its own comprehensive social metaverse, the term has taken the tech world by storm. With the advent of democratized digital conversations, decentralized currencies, and blockchain-driven Web3, the metaverse is simultaneously being teed up as the social and experiential focal point of this frontier.
But just how will these metaverses — or, eventually, one collective and singular metaverse — affect the mobile marketplace? Already, signs of metaversal influence in the consumer app space have popped up, showing us some of the possibilities that this technology holds.
For mobile app founders, many are curious as to how the metaverse will affect the app landscape in order to get a head start on the coming technology. Let’s take a look at five key forecasted trends that give us a glimpse into the future of the mobile metaverse.
“Metaverse” as a pop terminology for user acquisition
An open secret among the tech space is that using buzzwords can be an easy way to attract the eyes of potential new users and customers. Therefore, it’s no surprise that more than 500 mobile apps have taken advantage of the current moment by including “metaverse” in their titles or app descriptions, even as a true centralized (or decentralized) metaverse has yet to exist.
The Meta rebrand inspired this trend, and while it’s not affecting the actual interfaces or experiences of these individual mobile apps, it’s certainly reflecting a collective line of thinking. While the metaverse terminology has entered the mainstream and is being used by founders, it’s unclear whether the use of the word has improved UA metrics.
Using the metaverse as an interactive gaming platform
Gaming has been considered a forefront industry in the metaverse. With forerunners like Second Life and popular avatar-occupied virtual worlds like FortnNite already taking hold of the conversation, the opportunity for further immersion is palpable.
Central to this conversation is mobile gaming and how the metaverse will hold court for this massive sector of entertainment. Mobile already constitutes more than half of the entire gaming market, and metaverse-driven platforms are already starting to pop up.
Bunch, a social gaming platform coming off a $20 million Series A, offers a multitude of metaverse experiences. Their spatial environment for 3D avatars allows players to meet up, interact, discuss, and jump into different gaming rooms. Furthermore, they offer a decentralized economy that allows players to have full ownership of in-game assets, character skins, and more — similar to NFTs.
These massively cooperative experiences were originally used by desktop players (a la Roblox), but the technological strength of newer devices has made such mobile applications possible.
How the metaverse drives better VR, AR, and MR on mobile
As we begin to accept metaverse experiences further into our lives, these activities will become possible through virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. The technology we use will evolve to accommodate this level of capability, and mobile devices in particular will feel the effects of this enhancement.
The popularity and influence of the metaverse is only possible through its wide-scale implementation, which is best achieved through individual mobile devices. Therefore, technologies like 5G, WiFi 6, and other network speed advancements are part of the framework for allowing mobile metaverse experiences. As a driving force, the virtual world is responsible for accelerating VR, AR, and MR on mobile.
Metaverse retail becomes the new e-commerce
A couple decades ago, “ecommerce” went from a trendy buzzword to the reinvention of consumerism as an online experience. About 10 years later, the mobile iteration — m-commerce — provided the same revolutionary approach to buying and selling goods as its predecessor. The next wave is shaping up to be meta-shopping, which will be a major inversion to how business is currently conducted considering the metaverse’s decentralized approach to money.
Beyond just the implementation of different currencies (crypto in particular), meta-shopping will be transformational. The metaverse offers the chance to take the brick-and-mortar experience digital in a way ecommerce can’t fully replicate, and put everything online from customer experience to sales and even marketing.
This virtual world will create new and more interactive forms of sales funnels and user acquisition methods. Since consumers will access the metaverse through their phones and tablets, mobile-driven meta-shopping experiences will be particularly valuable.
Live events and specialized content on the metaverse
The metaverse is, at its core, a new form of experiencing. While many parts of that universe may not be physically interactive, user avatars will be able to engage with their surroundings in similar and sometimes even more complex ways than in our limited “real world.” These experiences have already started to go beyond social interactions, with live events already making a splash in the metaverse.
Meta and Oculus have already sponsored and hosted virtual concerts from artists like Young Thug, David Guetta, and The Chainsmokers. Companies like Orbits are popping up, promising the engagement and consistency of any live experience (professional, entertainment, or otherwise) within the virtual world, even across mobile platforms. The ability to congregate and experience live events, without having to travel or deal with other major expenses, is already available to consumers en masse.
Meanwhile, a study from JP Morgan indicates that the metaverse economy will direct significant fiscal power to content creators. Whether that’s individuals — musicians, P2P developers, and video game streamers — or subscription service apps, this innovative, visual world will make way for new types of content available to consumers. This content has the potential for a greater power of ownership that’s similar to NFTs, which can be leased out or granted subscription access based on the owner’s discretion.
Though we might still be a few years away from a true metaverse, the writing is on the wall that this virtual world will have a massive influence on mobile experiences. Preparing for these changes will become a necessity, as those brands and services that are best suited for the metaverse will be the ones that benefit the most from its possibilities — and in turn delight their users on this new frontier.