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Who is building the metaverse?

VR Expert - VR metaverse

By now, we are all familiar with the metaverse. Although what is less known is the creation of it will be gradual and time-consuming, with many different companies and creators pitching in. In this article, we will cover these creators and how each metaverse differs from the others.

Numerous companies are developing their metaverse, these are the ones we will cover:

  • Meta’s metaverse
  • Pico Worlds
  • The Fortnite metaverse
  • A user-generated metaverse: Decentraland and others
  • Enterprise-specific metaverses

If you need a primer on the metaverse, this article tells you everything you need to know.

Meta’s Horizon metaverse

Besides the obvious that Facebook changed its name to Meta, signaling the company heading to be synonymous with the metaverse: a metaverse, by definition, is an embodied 3D Facebook. Meta’s metaverse is known as Horizon Worlds and is part user-generated and part developer-created. A platform already growing in conjunction with the company’s hardware – virtual and augmented reality headset – strategy.

A crucial point we will touch on in The Fortnite Metaverse below is the popularity needed to seamlessly connect the moving parts a metaverse needs. In other words, Facebook is a big enough social platform with sufficient global influence to bring other companies into a shared metaverse for users to enjoy. For example, today, a company could choose not to have a presence on Facebook but would be losing out. The same must be the case with Meta’s upcoming metaverse to thrive.

Pico Worlds

Announced together with the Pico 4 and Pico 4 Enterprise, Pico Worlds is a social VR platform that will be driven by a thriving creator economy. In other words, where other metaverses will be partly developed by businesses, Pico Worlds will be populated by user-generated content. Not much else is known about this metaverse. Naturally, we will update this article as new information is released.

Epic Games Fortnite metaverse

In early 2022, Epic Games, the publisher behind Fortnite, announced the company had successfully acquired a total of US$2 billion since April 2021 to build their own ‘open’ metaverse. Epic Games stated its metaverse be open for partnerships through preset regulations and systems. However, no more details have been released as the platform hasn’t finished development.

For now, Epic Games’ Fortnite is acting as its non-VR social space, with live music concerts by, for example, Ariana Grande. Nonetheless, recent leaks have revealed Fortnite will be compatible with virtual reality, signaling its metaverse to be VR-enabled.

One of the aspects where the Fortnite metaverse is ahead of the game is it works on multiple platforms: from iOS to PlayStation to PC. In other words, Fortnite players can cross-play together through different systems and platforms, something essential for a future metaverse to exist. The reason for the cross-compatibility of Fortnite comes down to its popularity. Platforms like iOS, Android, and Xbox cannot say no to being part of the game, as the game boasts such high daily active users that they would be losing out. A similar point we covered with Meta’s metaverse.

Lastly, Epic Games owns Unreal Engine used for graphically intensive projects like video games. In effect, Epic Games can utilize its Unreal Engine to develop new content for its metaverse, expanding it and even selling these digital elements in its Epic Store: developing a creator economy.

A user-generated metaverse: Decentraland and others

What is Decentraland

Launched in 2020, Decentraland is a virtual space centered around two aspects: digital land ownership and user-generated content feeding into a creator economy. As the name suggests, Decentraland is a decentralized metaverse, which means nothing is segregated or locked off for users.

Similar to Pico Worlds, Decentraland is for social VR, where users can create their own digital swag, like clothing for people’s virtual avatars. These user-created digital items are then bought and sold using Decentraland’s cryptocurrency MANA developed on Ethereum technology.

Virtual real estate ownership

The most intriguing part about Decentraland is the option to own digital land within its metaverse world. Users can purchase what is known as ‘Parcels’. One Parcel is a 16×16 meter square that users can own singularly or placed together, amounting to a larger digital space a user can own. Furthermore, these Parcel-squares hold many public and closed events such as art galleries and music festivals. They are considered NFTs, implying they are unique and cannot be replicated or taken over. Effectively, these Parcels make up Decentraland’s virtual real estate market.

Decentralized and free

Lastly, Decentraland is operated by a non-profit or DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization). In other words, Decentraland is one of the most ‘free’ metaverses out there but is still in its infancy seeing below 1000 daily active users.

Other interesting metaverses similar to Decentraland are Sandbox, Somnium Space, and Cryptovoxels. For example, Sandbox has virtual real estate investors such as games publisher Square Enix and Snoop Dogg.

Enterprise-specific metaverses

A metaverse does not need to be decentralized and open. It can also be custom-built and owned by one enterprise used for specific purposes.

A metaverse for onboarding

While the public relations company Havas Group developed a virtual place in Sandbox – mentioned above – the company uses an owned metaverse site for onboarding new employees. Similarly, the BMW Group is undergoing the development of a ‘digital twin’ of its future factory meant to train and onboard new employees into their business.

A metaverse for venues

Using Decentraland as its open metaverse platform, the Australian Open launched a virtual version of Melbourne Park hosting its Australion Open tennis tournament. Besides showing the matches, this first metaverse tennis event featured virtual meet-ups with tennis legends such as Mark Philippoussis and showed historical matches from the 1970s.

Another example is Samsung’s Galaxy S22 product launch event in the My House metaverse platform. Here virtual attendees could build their own digital house and go on a treasure hunt to win special prizes.

A metaverse for eCommerce

Many eCommerce businesses offer a metaverse experience to try products virtually before buying them. One example is the luxury clothing brand Balenciaga, which after partnering with Fortnite (Epic Games), is building a digital space for trying on their clothes.

Similarly, McDonald’s is gearing up to offer a metaverse restaurant serving virtual food and drinks, concerts, and purchasable NFTs such as artworks and media files.

A metaverse for Research & Development

German electronics company Bosch has recently partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to investigate how spatial computing can be used in manufacturing, using a virtual factory as its testing ground.

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