Tech Giants Moving to Vastly Expand and Monetize the Metaverse

·4 min read
metaverse vr
metaverse vr

The metaverse — the game-like immersive digital experience enabled by virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) tech, and populated by millions of gamers, enthusiasts, many companies and all their respective creations — is going mainstream ... or at least attempting to do so.

It’s a trend that was confirmed in a recent Facebook blog post which said the social media giant will “create 10,000 new high-skilled jobs within the European Union (EU) over the next five years” in an effort to fulfill CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of Facebook’s evolution from social media platform to metaverse mainstay.

Facebook’s new initiative was well-timed, coming a day after conclusion of the 2021 Roblox Developers Conference (RDC), a popular annual event touting new and forthcoming innovations that are expanding not only the experiences within virtual worlds, but how one pays for them.

As RDC 2021 got underway, Roblox Chief Technology Officer Daniel Sturman said in an Oct. 14 blog post, “In addition to creating tools and systems that maximize developer productivity, we are creating more opportunities to build a virtual economy. We have 1.3 million developers and creators earning Robux, and this year, they are on track to earn $500 million from their creations.”

“Robux” are the virtual currency of the Roblox metaverse, albeit purchased with real-world money.

Roblox and meta-competitors include Microsoft, Nvidia, Unity Software, Epic Games and now Facebook, are all staking claims to the metaverse for its promising commercial potential.

See also: Facebook Seeks 10,000 Engineers in EU to Create New Digital World

What to Buy Inside the Metaverse

Parallels between the connected economy and the steadily coalescing metaverse are growing, as experiences inside an augmented reality world take “connected” concepts to the next level.

For example, in addition to virtual currencies like Robux, there are plenty of things on which to spend virtual currency, monetizing everything from avatars to virtual real estate.

On Monday (Oct. 18) blockchain firm Corp. announced it is buying a 50% stake in Metaverse Group, described as “one of the world’s first virtual NFT [non-fungible token] based real estate companies” owning “an extensive portfolio of virtual NFT real estate properties in major blockchain-based Metaverses including Decentraland, Somnium Space, The Sandbox, Cryptovoxels and Upland.” CEO Andrew Kiguel said, “Physical and virtual real estate are extremely similar. As more people congregate in these virtual cities, the land becomes more sought after for its ability to reach a new global demographic. Brands like Adidas and Gucci are discovering this, as are artists like Snoop Dogg and Ariana Grande. Metaverse Group has the potential to be a major landlord and developer by using the same strategies used by physical real estate managers.”

Read: Facebook Highlights eCommerce, Metaverse Plans As Pressure On Ad Business Grows

Real Commerce for Virtual Worlds

Metaverse commerce is already booming, but experts say this spending — and opportunities to spend — will grow geometrically as the currently siloed platforms become interoperable.

“Commerce will take place in the metaverse,” John Egan, chief executive of Paris-based forecasting firm L’Atelier BNP Paribas told The Wall Street Journal last week, adding that he “predicts that metaverse users will buy and sell virtual pets — from lifelike dogs and cats to dragons and other fantastical creatures. He also foresees a market for related services like pet walking and grooming, as the virtual companions could be programmed to require the same kind of care as real-world animals.”

Many are watching Facebook as the bellwether for how the metaverse will move beyond amusements for the digerati to become an experience used by multitudes, like social media.

Much will depend in monetization models, which Roblox talked up during RDC 2021.

“Last year, we introduced engagement-based payouts (called Premium Payouts) as a way to reward developers for creating engaging experiences (in addition to earning Robux through in-experience purchases),” Roblox’s Sturman said. “Today, 50% of our top 10,000 developers make more from these engagement-based payouts than in-experience purchases. We are also giving developers more ways to earn on the Roblox platform through improvements in sponsored content and the ability for some developers to create and sell their own avatar items.”

See also: Monetizing The Metaverse In Real Time As It Is Being Built

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