On December 26, 2022
Developing the next phase of gaming is closer to reality than ever
Gaming has always been a prime candidate for virtual reality (VR). Early immersive games in 2D like Minecraft and Second Life incorporated elements of the currently developing Metaverse. These previously integrated objects such as 3D avatars, world-building, and observation as gameplay.
As companies like Meta Platforms, Unity, and Epic Games build interconnected world-building platforms, gaming has found a new home with immersive technologies.
In a recent survey, 59 percent of industry experts said gaming would dominate VR investments for the next few years. 64 percent also responded that gaming had the highest potential for VR compared to other use cases.
Here’s a quick take on how the Metaverse gaming industry could unfold along with some potential pitfalls to avoid.
A Closer Look at Gaming in the Metaverse
The Metaverse can be defined as a unified and interoperable virtual space. On it, users can interact with each other and real-time 3D content. Human-computer interfaces (HCI) and emerging technologies will facilitate the rise of the spatial communications platform.
They will also take VR gaming to new levels of immersion, interactivity, and realism.
Currently, VR gameplay is available as standalone applications that you can install on your desktop, VR gear, or mobile phone to engage in immersive renditions of popular video games.
The Metaverse, first coined in the 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, expands this concept further. Future users will connect interoperable worlds across VR games, spaces, and apps in a single environment.
People can also navigate seamlessly across gaming applications and multiple immersive spaces. These will also allow people to port their non-fungible tokens, data, and avatars without switching headsets.
Metaverse Gaming Examples
Games as Platforms
The gaming experience will become much more flexible. Users can build and expand virtual worlds, develop creative content, build sub-games within titles, and build gaming as a platform for activities.
The Metaverse is inherently social — a trait that sets it apart from solo VR experiences. Multi-player gaming will acquire an additional dimension as players invite real-world friends to interact with other players, build relationships, and engage in other activities.
Platforms such as Fortnite, Roblox, Decentraland, and The Sandbox offer massive-scale competition and socialising spaces for gaming in the Metaverse.
This will be a crucial element of gaming in the Metaverse. Apart from following linear storytelling and rules, players can engage in activities to generate revenue streams. For example, they could sell digital assets won from hit titles to other users in exchange for cryptocurrencies.
Portable Gaming Assets
Metaverse interoperability could facilitate asset portability. Weapons, clothing, or enhancements from one game could transfer to a different environment, and NFT rules would govern persistent ownership.
Mixed Reality Experiences
The Metaverse leverages VR, AR, and MR to provide a more organic experience. Gaming in the Metaverse could incorporate mixed reality, where users move from group text in AR to an MR board game to a full-fledged VR world seamlessly.
Gaming in Metaverse Communities
The Metaverse has attracted significant investments from venture capital firms, technology giants, and other sources of revenue. This has seen a meteoric rise in serious gaming technologies, or technologies from the gaming industry set to build infrastructure for the Metaverse.
Companies like Decentraland, Sandbox, Epic Games, Meta Platforms, and Improbable are some of the key players for gaming in the Metaverse, pun intended.
Decentraland is among the first companies to explicitly set out to build a fully-functional Metaverse. It has a massive platform with allocated real estate, an Ethereum-backed native token (LAND), and specified virtual spaces for multiplayer gaming. It has also invested in a company called Decentral Games to develop its gameplay hosting capabilities further.
The Sandbox is another Metaverse platform that allows users to play, create, own, and govern virtual spaces. The platform’s economy is based on user-generated crypto and NFT assets. It has also partnered with top global brands to deliver unique and enriching experiences.
Companies like Standard Chartered and artists such as Snoop Dogg have build expansive Metaverse worlds on the platform. It also hosts over 20,000 NFTs to buy and integrate in virtual landscapes.
Epics Games is best known for Fortnite, a world-building platform for some of the most popular gaming titles in the market. With Fortnite’s rise to fame, artists and major brands worldwide have delivered concerts using its technologies.
Timberland recently hosted a Fortnite-based platform for showcasing its sportswear, offering exclusive access to company updates, and competitions for users. Conversely, Epic Games and other platforms also developed extended reality (XR) music videos for artists featured at the 2022 MTV Music Awards.
Relatively new to the Metaverse, Meta Platforms, formerly Facebook, trailblazed the XR market with its 2021 rebrand and ambitions. Despite failing to reach these goals, the Menlo Park-based firm achieved tremendous progress in its Metaverse technologies.
For gaming, Meta has remained synonymous with VR gaming with its Quest headset lineup, which will face a rivalry with the Pico 4. With Meta’s Horizon Worlds platform, creatives can design games and publish them on the immersive platform.
Improbable is an incoming Metaverse infrastructure company aiming to increase the number of concurrent users from hundreds to thousands. The United Kingdom, United States, and Germany-based firm has created novel technologies to facilitate immense multiplayer Metaverse worlds. XR Today recently trialled Improbable’s immersive world and found a host of possibilities to explore.
Metaverse Gaming Concerns
Of course, in general, VR and video games have always needed to counter legal and ethical issues, and the same applies for the Metaverse. There are three primary concerns to tackle:
Child-appropriate Services and Controls
It can be challenging to monitor children’s activity and differentiate them from adults due to avatar anonymity. Games must include sufficient controls to ensure age-appropriate experiences.
NFT Ownership Rights
Laws governing the right to own in-game assets are still unclear, and NFTs won inside a game may not be universally portable. Also, platforms must define the scope of ownership rights so that users know exactly how they can manage, trade, and profit from NFTs.
Designers are currently working to achieve scale interoperability for gaming Metaverses. Tech giants and patent holders will have to work together, different countries must on a system of Metaverse standards, and hardware solutions must evolve to accommodate evolving software. Even though the road to the Metaverse is long, the tech industry is laying the groundwork for realising its potential.