The Metaverse is, if you believe the new hype, coming sooner than we would expect. Already business models are evolving, and, more seriously, big brands are buying in. And it has emerged fast.
For the, umm, older generation, the whole concept of a completely immersive online experience is weird, but, like it or not, that is what the Metaverse is.
As technologies such as 6G, NFTs and virtual reality become real reality, the idea makes more sense. And the good news is that we will not be moaning about ubiquitous coverage because it doesn’t work like that.
Brands such as Nike, Gucci and Ralph Loren are launching virtual brands as NFTs, choosing platforms to partner with so that you can only wear your virtual fashion items if you are on a platform such as Zepeto (no, we haven’t heard of it either, but we were wondering what comes after the internet).
The Metaverse is, apparently, where it is all ‘happening’. Facebook is already referring to itself as the Metaverse company, perhaps a last gasp attempt to remain relevant as other, cooler, social media platforms chip away at its stranglehold. And, with its Oculus VR device getting ever better, you can see why it has the advantage.
Yet the cynical side of a journalist will now emerge and say things like ‘really?’ And ‘do you honestly believe that…’ and refer to the Gartner Hype Cycle or (we prefer this one) the Dunning-Kruger effect and point at the ‘Peak of Mount Stupid’ and say that we are still at the ‘know nothing’ point.
The Metaverse is not coming sooner than expected (frankly, we were not expecting it at all), but big brands might be about to prove us wrong. Already these brands are coming up with concepts such as ‘Direct to Avatar’, where you seamlessly wake up, dress your avatar for the day, head to Virtual Starbucks and from there to your virtual place of work.
It all looks pretty cool and windswept, but as the pandemic has taught us (or reinforced a thousand times), humans are pack animals. We thrive or wither and die without social interaction. Stress and mental health problems get much worse when our world is virtual. It does not get better.
If the Metaverse is going to keep us in our real homes so that our new ‘real’ world is virtual, we might yet save the planet.
But we are likely to go mad doing so.