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It’s pretty hard to move anywhere in the gaming world without bumping into someone talking about the metaverse. Assuming you don’t know the concept of metaverse in games, the simplest thing is to tell you that it’s an interconnected universe of virtual worlds similar to what Ernest Cline envisioned in his cult novel. Ready Player One, as it came to life in a vibrant way as a blockbuster of Steven Spielberg.
The metaverse came close to reality when Epic Games announced that it had secured a $ 1 billion investment for these interconnected virtual worlds, with $ 200 million coming from Sony. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney effectively sees the metaverse as the next natural evolution of the Internet that will be built using open standards to connect these experiences.
Ultimately, the metaverse is likely to be a long way off, but we see some green shoots of what may look like mobile in the gaming space on a temporary basis. Let’s see, then, what aspects should evolve in the world of mobile games for the metaverse to become more of a reality.
No one really knows what the actual level of immersion in the metaverse will be. According to the Oasis of Ready Player One, looks like a full body suit with VR glasses. On the plus side, we see significant leaps in virtual reality technology with Oculus expanding its range beyond audible PC-dependent headphones with external monitoring and favoring more commercialized standalone devices like the Quest 2 with internal monitoring.
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However, the future of virtual reality feels closely tied to consoles, computers or standalone headphones, such as Quest. Mobile and virtual reality have not yet come together, although AR is the dominant reality in mobile. The rumor mill has been overloaded with the development of so-called AR technology “Apple Glass”, but who knows? Even if Apple (or another company) covers reality above ours, AR is still not the immersive vision we envision for the metaverse.
The metaverse will also need body-wide tracking functions. Some exciting developments, such as the technology developed for the recently announced virtual Olympic Taekwondo events along with the Axis XR Interface system, turn the whole body into a controller.
Content distribution and infrastructure
The mobile world is almost tied to content delivery through Apple and Google. People have to download an app and then have the option to pay in different ways. But the world of game streaming makes big leaps. Google Stadia has had a somewhat uneven start in the world, but Microsoft has released Xbox Cloud Gaming that runs on mobile. All of this is a step closer to the metaverse view of seamless transmission experiences on mobile devices. However, this also requires a lot of high-speed data away from home, and therefore we should see a much greater availability of high-speed 5G networks (and beyond), which is free time.
If true metavers is to be made as the successor to the Internet, it must be built on open standards that connect all of these virtual experiences. This means that there is no company that “owns” the metaverse, which could be very problematic. This open standard is at odds with the current business model of Apple and Google operating walled gardens where they maintain strict control over billing and what is allowed to publish. This has been best exemplified by the documented battle between Epic and Apple for Fortnite, which has led to the disappearance of the game from the App Store. When we consider Sweeney’s greatest aspirations for the metaverse and Epic’s place in it, it’s no surprise that he’s willing to challenge Apple’s dominance as a potential barrier to a true metaverse. Ultimately, app stores are as lucrative for both Apple and Google, which will be a surprise if they don’t adapt to future changing market dynamics if they see their power change.
Greater adoption of social characteristics and experiences
Mobile games have experienced an explosion of social features in recent months, especially Chinese apps with social areas dedicated to hangout. Even casual games are beginning to adopt guild mechanics and cooperative play. Looking at cooperative-style tasks, you can see the upward trend among the top 100 revenue-generating mobile games on iOS over the past three years in this chart.
- Social functions of mobile games: The most accomplished players we’ve seen trying to make a real metaverse have been Roblox and Fortnite, with various events and promotions in the game. While no longer available on mobile, Fortnite added a Party Royale mode and social space on the island in early 2020. Fortnite has also hosted previews of movie trailers such as Principles in addition to showing a Christopher Nolan feature film season. Prior to Party Royale, Fortnite also hosted the Travis Scott astronomical event, which drew 12.3 million simultaneous viewers.
- Fortnite Travis Scott Event: Roblox has also been very aggressive in its desire to build a metaverse framework with a lot of co-promotions of Ready player two (taking out their true aspirations!), the Lil Nas X concert, and a Gucci Garden event that even sparked the sale of some virtual items for hundreds of dollars online. While Roblox is perhaps the best indicator of what a future mobile metaverse might look like, it’s still a walled garden and would only be part of the whole interconnected experience.
An economy in operation
This relates to the previous walled garden point, specifically with Apple and Google, who want to maintain control of the ecosystem and the payment structure. Roblox uses its Robux coin to reward creators and let people change items, but that is still within the walled garden. For a true metaverse to thrive, a decentralized economy would be needed. This is where we need to walk slightly, as the reaction of the gaming industry to the environmental impact of the blockchain has been evident, as well as the gross overinflation of NFTs and their recent collapse. However, ignoring the lack of ecological credentials and the volatility of NFTs, the blockchain and decentralized finance establish a vision of technological solutions that can facilitate a global economy for metaverse.
The mobile metaverse is really the sum of its parts, based on many things that come in handy for it to actually perform. And that’s before we even address the broader issues of policing, legality, and other things that come with running the next version of the Internet. One thing is for sure, and it is the fact that the mobile is likely to be the main platform of the metavers if we give people the maximum freedom to experience its immersive wonders anytime, anywhere.
That said, it may be a while before you see me at work on the subway rush hour with VR glasses, gloves and a full body haptic feedback.
Erno Kiiski has analyzed hundreds of mobile games as the leading gaming analyst in the United States at the analysis company GameRefinery by Vungle, which provides feature level analysis, market knowledge, and benchmarks for the gaming industry. for mobile.
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