This February, The Fintech Times is taking a deep dive into the world of gametech. Grab your headsets and controllers and tune in to hear about the latest tech and celebrities influencing the market to the development of eSports and much more.
When stepping forward into the world of gametech, it would be totally impossible to do the topic justice without considering the growing impact of the metaverse. But what is the metaverse, how does it translate into what we know about gametech, and what could its future use cases be?
The Fintech Times sat down with some of the industry’s most esteemed experts to uncover the answers to these most pressing questions.
What is the metaverse?
Essentially, the metaverse is best described as a network of 3D virtual spaces. Unlike the real world, the metaverse doesn’t suffer restrictions on its creative capabilities, and users are free to create, travel and interact as they please. Its presence is rife amongst innovations within gaming, where developers are utisiling the technology to provide users with a completely different take on how they’re able to interact with their services. In a place without borders, the metaverse is set to completely reshape everything we know and expect from gaming online, alongside the possibility of its wider use.
“In the broadest terms, the metaverse represents the next chapter of the Internet,” explains Virtuleap CEO and co-founder Amir Bozorgzadeh. “It’s the spatialised Internet, one in which the digital experience is ecologically valid and multisensory, which means the user interface is what the human body is designed to relate to not only cognitively, but with the whole body. The metaverse is a very big idea that presumes a whole series of innumerable building blocks are already created and in-motion. We are talking about a network of interlinked 3D spaces that have no traditional limitations such as is the case with physical spaces.”
“The metaverse is the next epoch in how we interact with each other as human beings,” adds CryptoGene CEO Marc Seal. “The internet changed how we communicate with each other but imagine a world that feels real where you can truly reach the farthest parts of your imagination. The metaverse allows you to have a meeting on the beach, watch movies with friends, and play games where you can earn a living and evolve assets at the same time.”
As described by Alexander Fernandez, CEO and co-founder of Streamline Media Group: “The metaverse is where our physical/digital personas become a unified reality. It’s leveraging immersive interactive technologies created for video games and leveraged to create areas of commerce, entertainment, socializing, and fun.”
How does the metaverse translate into gametech?
Considering the characteristics of the metaverse, these translate into the gametech industry through how a user accesses and interacts with the metaverse itself, with there being two main frames to consider here. The first is virtual reality (VR), which transports the user to an entirely fabricated universe through the use of closed visors or headsets. The second frame to consider is called augmented reality (AR), which is similar to its counterpart in that it imposes a fabricated perspective, however, AR combines metaverse creations with real life reality; in other words, adding something digital to an otherwise tangible world. AR headsets are often physically clearer than its VR counterpart in order to achieve this feat. AR, VR and its neighbour mixed reality (MR) are all encompassed by the extended reality (XR) umbrella term.
“When we are travelling between one 3D environment to another, or existing in both simultaneously, there are various tools that can enable the transport of digital identities, permit digital currency exchanges and trades, and all of this needs to be developed according to internationally recognised methods, best practices, and policies that in turn need to be agreed on by governments and public stakeholders,” explains Bozorgzadeh.
“Most of these realities are at their purest definition supported by VR devices, but they also bleed into our real-world through AR devices, and side to the metaverse is perhaps even more exciting than the first because it tags onto real physical space and dynamics (like gravity, time, limited distance, etc) and serves to enhance the real-world economy. In both cases, games and gamification in immersive realities are a key ingredient since entertainment is where the majority of the investment dollars have been flowing during the past two waves of the XR hype cycle.”
“VR is critical to the scaling of metaverse,” urges Fraser Edwards, CEO of cheqd. “The arrival of VR headsets has boosted the metaverse concept – according to Bloomberg Intelligence, the market opportunity for the metaverse could hit $800billion by 2024. AR takes it a step further in the sense that it helps to enhance the user’s perception of reality with technology, making it all seem more realistic.”
Speaking on the not-so-great side of this form of gametech, John Patrick Lee, Product Manager at VanEck comments: “The VR/AR question comes up a lot, and my personal opinion is that there is a gap between what people think VR/AR will do and what’s actually physically possible. VR, in particular, is prone to lead to nausea and dizziness issues for people who wear the goggles and play a game. The human brain perceives movement, but the inner ear doesn’t, and that leads to physical discomfort.
“One of the reasons video games are so popular is that they are so easy to do for extended periods of time. Gamers can sit on their couch and play Call of Duty for eight hours on a Saturday, and not experience any major physical discomfort besides side effects from extended inactivity like obesity. There is an inherent barrier to entry for a lot of new VR participants because it makes people dizzy. And for the people who don’t get dizzy, the VR sessions are much shorter than a typical video game or PC player. It’s physically difficult to wear VR goggles and be immersed in a VR world for extended periods of time without experiencing physical discomfort.
“Having said that, I do believe that the metaverse can be fully realised without a VR or AR application. We are already completely immersed in digital worlds as-is, whether we are on our computers, tablets, or mobile phones. The first iteration of inter-operable metaverse will be through screens, not VR, in my opinion. So then it circles back to the definition of “what is the metaverse?” I think it can exist without immersive 3D. Others argue that you have to be in 3D. That becomes an issue of semantics after a while.”
What’s next for the world of the metaverse?
Although its identity is heavily aligned with the world of online gaming, the future of the metaverse is an open-ended question, and many of our experts argue that its true capabilities are yet to be fully realised. With further development, the metaverse could operate beyond the world of gaming, being utilised in situations like currency transactions, education and even within e-commerce.
Although the idea of the metaverse is anything but new – being first coined by sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson as far back as 1992 – public attention towards the technology has never been more aware.
“It’s the next step of the internet and appealing because generations are growing up with technology that has always existed much the way we all grew up with movies and phones always being there,” explains Fernandez. “The metaverse allows for the next level of engagement, but also economic transformation globally as it leads the transition of traditional economies into the digital world. In essence, the metaverse is the digital transformation of the global economy. VR/AR are input and output devices that connect to the metaverse and allow you to experience the world differently.”
Adding to these ideas, Edwards comments: “Whether within the gaming industry or beyond, digital identity will be paramountly important in the metaverse. It applies on many levels – from original identity verification, when somebody just creates a user profile (not very different to the existing processes) to endless transactions within the meta and the ability to move an avatar or objects/ assets from one dimension of a metaverse to another. On the journey towards an open metaverse, the addition of verifiable credentials to establish trust in avatars, profiles and in-game items will become an essential piece of the metaverse toolbox.”
The future of the metaverse is as boundless as the technology itself, with its possibilities largely dependent on the sustained excitement and appetite that encompasses the topic. Fortunately, this appears to be showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.