What is the Metaverse and should I be watching it carefully?

Digital | 3 minute read 

It’s highly likely that you’ve come across the term ‘Metaverse’ over the past few months. Particularly as Facebook rebranded as Meta in October 2021 so they can focus on bringing ‘the Metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses.’

Yet, what exactly is a Metaverse? Is it the future of the internet or a temporary fad? And if, as Meta (aka Facebook) states, the Metaverse can help ‘grow businesses’, what does this mean for the B2B business world? Let’s find out.

What is the Metaverse?

According to Wikipedia, a Metaverse is ‘a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection.’

Think of it as a collection of interconnected virtual social spaces, parallel to the physical world, that people can access using virtual and augmented reality headsets.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella describes the Metaverse as ‘being able to put people, places, things [in] a physics engine and then having all the people, places, things in the physics engine relate to each other.’

If the idea of virtual social spaces being used en masse seems like a niche concept, you may be surprised to hear that the multiplayer online game Roblox has 43.2 million daily active users and Fortnite has over 350 million registered players.

Is the Metaverse a new concept?

The term originated in the 1992 novel ‘Snow Crash’ by Neal Stephenson to describe a 3D virtual reality space where developers could build ‘buildings, parks, signs, as well as things that do not exist in Reality’ and where the ‘rules of three-dimensional spacetime are ignored’.

If you’ve ever played the aforementioned Roblox or Fortnite, that will all sound very familiar.

Will the Metaverse replace the internet?

According to venture capitalist Matthew Ball, the Metaverse won’t replace the internet ‘but instead build upon and iteratively transform it.’

Writing on his website in June 2021, Ball said that although the full version is decades away, Metaverse ‘has become so recently popular because we can feel it beginning.’

This brings us back to Meta/Facebook. In February 2022, Mark Zuckerberg described Meta as ‘a metaverse company, building the future of social connection’ and said the next platform will be ‘even more immersive – an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it. We call this the metaverse, and it will touch every product we build.”

What does the Metaverse mean for brands in the future?

In his founder’s letter, Mark Zuckerberg said that the Metaverse will ‘unlock a massively larger creative economy than the one constrained by today’s platforms and their policies.’

Part of Meta’s vision, as laid out in this video, is to create a marketplace where creators can sell and share digital items, which will enable a lot more commerce and help grow the Metaverse economy.

So, for example, customers could visit virtual shops or conventions in the Metaverse where they can purchase digital items that they can take with them and use inside other virtual social spaces.

As the technology progresses so too will the benefits to brands. For example, the physical world and virtual Metaverse worlds could seamlessly combine with glasses that allow customers to look at a physical item in-store and have product details or reviews appear on their glasses.

Matthew Ball says the Metaverse will ‘revolutionize nearly every industry and function’.

So, the Metaverse is, without doubt, an area that B2B marketers should be keeping close tabs on and starting to consider how their brand could fit into the Metaverse experience.

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