Here are the companies that are building the Metaverse: Meta, Roblox, Epic

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Nike is teaming up with roblox to launch a virtual world called Niketown.

Source: Nike

When a video game company that only your kids have heard of goes public at a $ 38 billion valuation, you care.

When Microsoft’s CEO removes the phrase “metaverse savings” on a quarterly earnings call, you’re paying attention.

When Mark Zuckerberg says he’s going to spend $ 10 billion to create a new kind of virtual reality internet, you care. (Oh, and his company also has a new name: Meta.)

This is the year we paid attention to the Metaverse, which in a matter of months has gone from a wacky sci-fi term coined decades ago to a mainstream concept that makes tech investors dump money. money and futurists drool over making fiction come true.

Some of the smartest people in the world have come this year to say the next big thing is here, and that’s the metaverse. It also created a market for a group of copiers, wannabes, and executives, who clearly missed the trend and are now scrambling to capitalize on anything related to the Metaverse.

Amidst the noise, there are several companies with legitimate promises in the metaverse, and these aren’t the dominant names in Big Tech today.

Top of the list are online game companies Roblox and Epic Games. Both have already built virtual worlds, where millions of people socialize, play and participate in a digital economy. Some participants even make a living inside these metavers by selling their digital products.

All that to say: the metaverse is already here in many ways. It just hasn’t matured and has spread beyond a select group of kids and teens, who play Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft with the same vigor that many of their elders scroll on Twitter and gorging on Netflix.

For now, the challenge for the Metaverse isn’t just to create new technology to make Zuckerberg’s vision a reality. It’s also about getting older generations to see the advantages of the metaverse over the old internet.

“I think this shift to the metaverse is very generational,” Roblox chief commercial officer Craig Donato said in an interview with Zoom. “Kids who grew up in interactive games intuitively understand this stuff. “

While most of Roblox players are young, the company has developed more features to appeal to older users, such as age-restricted parts of the Metaverse that can host adult content, Donato said. During the pandemic, Roblox employees working from home created a virtual version of their corporate headquarters in the app to hold meetings with each other, incorporating details right down to whiteboards in conference rooms. They even threw their 2020 holiday party in the Metaverse.

From the office to the concert hall

The reason the Metaverse is getting so much attention now is because enough people think it has a real chance to dominate much of how we spend time online, and eventually see it replacing the experiences of the Metaverse. real world like live sporting events and concerts.

The companies building the metaverse today are doing so in the hopes of controlling much of the online economy of the future. Some of these ideas have already taken root in today’s metaverse, like Lil Nas X performing virtually in Roblox and Travis Scott doing the same in Epic’s Fortnite.

Verizon’s virtual Fortnite stadium.

Verizon

Meta had the same instincts as Roblox during the pandemic and began to think about the future of work inside the Metaverse. Its first official metaverse product, announced earlier this year, was a virtual reality program that lets you host live meetings with the cartoon avatars of your friends or colleagues. Microsoft had its own take on metaverse meetings with a similar product called Mesh, which integrates with its Teams chat app.

Yet despite over $ 3 trillion in combined market capitalization, Meta and Microsoft are behind smaller players when it comes to creating a complete virtual world. It’s a different story on hardware, especially for Meta and its Oculus VR headsets. Physical encapsulation is a critical part of Zuckerberg and his $ 10 billion commitment to the Metaverse.

Donato, however, doesn’t view the futuristic new material as the centerpiece of a successful Metaverse experience. He said phones and computer screens already create enough sense of presence. Instead, Donato focuses on the social aspect of the Roblox metaverse as a way to get more people to try it.

“It’s absolutely going to get better over time,” Donato said, discussing the VR hardware. “But I don’t think that is driving Metaverse adoption.”

He highlighted new technologies that allow better social interactions in the metaverse, like spatial audio (where your headphones make it sound like someone’s voice is coming from their direction in a virtual world) and software that can read and imitate facial expressions.

Today’s metaverse is like social media in the early 2000s, roughly a decade before baby boomers started signing up to Facebook. Even senior Meta executives have said it could take up to 15 years to craft their ultimate vision.

Right now, several companies are working on it, with no one having a clear advantage.

Donato also drew the comparison to the early days of the Internet, when websites largely copied real-world services like the yellow pages. Finally, the Internet has allowed new innovations, from Zoom calls to your iPhone. Today, the metaverse is trying to recreate much of what we already do on the internet.

“I think we’re going to get into that phase, which is: what are the things that I can do – the social interactions that I might have – that just wouldn’t be possible in the real world,” Donato said.

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