A recent feature article on TechCrunch titled A multiverse, not the metaverse: Why gaming’s virtual worlds are the next stage of social media by Eric Peckham perfectly hit on many thoughts I had been having about the Metaverse talk. Although I think the concept of a single ubiquitous Metaverse sounds super cool, the practical technologist in me starts to calculate a lot of things need to evolve further before its more than a game that everyone is a part of. We still need generational and cultural shifts, in additional to the technology playing together. And business and government would need to play nice and fair, and that last one seems like the one no one trusts.
From his short manifesto titled The Metaverse: What It Is, Where to Find it, Who Will Build It, and Fortnite Matthew Ball predicted, or defined, the Metaverse to have the following:
- Be persistent – which is to say, it never “resets” or “pauses” or “ends”, it just continues indefinitely
- Be synchronous and live – even though pre-scheduled and self-contained events will happen, just as they do in “real life”, the Metaverse will be a living experience that exists consistently for everyone and in real time
- Have no real cap to concurrent participations with an individual sense of “presence” – everyone can be a part of the Metaverse and participate in a specific event/place/activity together, at the same time and with individual agency
- Be a fully functioning economy – individuals and businesses will be able to create, own, invest, sell, and be rewarded for an incredibly wide range of “work” that produces “value” that is recognized by others
- Be an experience that spans both the digital and physical worlds, private and public networks/experiences, and open and closed platforms
- Offer unprecedented interoperability of data, digital items/assets, content, and so on across each of these experiences …
- Be populated by “content” and “experiences” created and operated by an incredibly wide range of contributors, some of whom are independent individuals, while others might be informally organized groups or commercially-focused enterprises
These 7 traits are not all new. There have been many games that have created a Metaverse-like experience within itself. From Second Life to Diablo to Roblox, these games have existed for some time but have evolved to be more accessible thanks to mobile and a more casual gaming approach. Online games changed how we play video games, and with mobile being already fully cloud-based and the new handheld gaming console everyone owns, gaming continues to evolve now to be dominated and lead by mobile.
Although Eric doesn’t specifically focus on mobile, and is inclusive of all platforms in his these – phones, tablets, PCs and consoles – I cant help but notice that mobile is the way more capable gateway to the many metaverses of today. And that those multiverses are already here. The industry will no doubt advance from console/PC and mobile split from a cross-platform to omni-platform point of view. The first big companies to succeed like Epic, will garner attention and grow and will likely compete for being the biggest and potentially THE metaverse, but that’s going to be long and hard fought battle with companies like Amazon and Facebook ready to bully and dominate.
“Instead, the virtual worlds of multiplayer games — still accessed from phones, tablets, PCs and consoles — are our stepping stones during this next phase.”
I think mobile gaming still has plenty of room to grow while the VR Metaverse is fought for and built up over decades. There are still many lessons to be learned and something like the Metaverse, like VR, can’t just be willed into existence because so many wish it existed. Mobile is where all the growth is focused, and is the device everyone has with them 24/7 TODAY, and there isn’t much talk about mobile metaverses being the biggest opportunity. We think its what gamers and non-gamers today want and are ready for, they just don’t know it yet.