The metaverse is entering into a stage of heavy development. Smaller crypto projects, creators, and games produce content and meta platforms alongside huge tech giants like Google and Facebook (Meta). As the trend has picked up, tech giants with platforms that already complement the metaverse have begun their own developments. Google, for example, is taking a subtle approach that emphasizes augmented reality to connect the digital and real worlds.
Meta, previously known as Facebook, has gone the opposite direction and made obvious moves towards the metaverse. This includes its publicized renaming. The company already owns essential VR hardware and has its cryptocurrency Libra project.
Microsoft is focussing on virtual offices and working environments in the metaverse. Companies will create persistent virtual spaces for their employees to work in and collaborate on a deeper level than standard video calls.
While Binance doesn't actively develop in the metaverse, it does provide essential crypto infrastructure. For example, the Binance NFT Marketplace brings together buyers and sellers of digital metaverse assets. Binance also offers liquid markets for metaverse tokens to trade on.
Epic Games has two main metaverse strategies. First, it looks to improve its user experience base and technology to support more players. It also wants to help creators make professional 3D assets for the metaverse.
China's Tencent is one of the world's largest video game publishers and messaging service providers. They have publicly mentioned their focus on gaming as an entry point to the metaverse with their already existing technology.
Building the metaverse is going to take time and effort. But who is out there developing the infrastructure it needs? One of the great things about the metaverse is that it can't be created by just one entity. It's a combination of multiple aspects of life, work, and play. Small teams are on the same stage as large global companies, and anyone can help build the metaverse. Binance Academy has previously discussed smaller crypto metaverse projects, but here we will take a look at some of the larger players in the technology industry.
How are we building the metaverse?
Why are companies interested in building the metaverse?
Many of the companies we'll mention already own leading platforms in key metaverse areas. Tencent has WeChat, Meta has Facebook and Instagram, and Epic Games has Fortnite, to name just a few. It seems likely these platforms will be involved in the metaverse somehow, so it makes sense for the companies to develop metaverse solutions themselves.
In a Bloomberg interview, Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained his view on the metaverse as an "evolving computing in an immersive way with augmented reality." In fact, Google already has a lot of experience with augmented reality with its Google Glass product. In November 2021, Google also reorganized its VR and AR departments into a new Google Labs team that includes the holographic video conferencing tool Project Starline.
The focus at Google currently looks more at connecting us through augmented avatars combining the digital and physical world. While we haven't seen a solid metaverse proposal from Google, the foundations look there.
Facebook has easily been one of the loudest voices regarding large-scale metaverse development. The company even changed its name to Meta, showing its seriousness on the topic, with Facebook, Instagram, and Oculus VR all under the brand. It's obvious that Meta already has ownership of many of the metaverse's key elements. On a smaller scale, we can already see some of their metaverse developments:
Microsoft's primary offering for the metaverse is its Mesh for Teams software releasing in 2022. It directly results from the work-from-home trend that grew stronger during the pandemic along with the new metaverse craze. The software will be available on standard devices and VR headsets to create a persistent virtual office experience.
The key to the Mesh for Teams experience is making a virtual avatar to act as your digital identity. You'll then be able to use this avatar to explore virtual areas and spaces in the digital world, an important aspect of any metaverse.
Epic Games arguably has one of the most developed metaverse platforms today: Fortnite. What started as just a game has turned into a vast social platform and virtual world with over 350 million players. Virtual events include a variety of celebrities, brands, and partnerships for awards ceremonies and concerts.
Epic has two main goals when it comes to the metaverse. It first wants to expand Fortnite to a platform that can attract and support more than its current 60 million monthly users. Epic also wants to make "3D, AR and VR content more accessible and grow the creator ecosystem, which are critical to an open and interconnected Metaverse". This will allow anyone to create professional 3D content and help improve the quality of the metaverse experience.
Tencent operates as one of the largest video game vendors globally and also owns the Chinese social networks and messaging platforms WeChat and Tencent QQ. Both these areas are essential to the development of the metaverse. For example, Tencent QQ already offers gaming, e-commerce, music, films, and voice chat capabilities all within its web portal. WeChat provides a mobile payment app that can link to its social media platforms.
During an earnings call, Tencent executives noted the importance of their gaming infrastructure in metaverse development. Tencent already has a lot of working applications and projects to use. It plans to pioneer gamification in the metaverse and leverage its experience in the industry.
However, Tencent has publicly placed less emphasis on the importance of VR hardware than others. Instead, it's looking towards software solutions for increasing a player's involvement in the metaverse. This ties into their stake in Epic Games, the producers of Fortnite, and Riot Games, publisher of League of Legends. For these reasons, Tencent will likely use video games as their niche in the metaverse.
The race to develop the metaverse is already on the way. But unlike other technologies, there's a lot of space in the metaverse to innovate without overlapping. After the success seen with crypto and the metaverse, giants like Google and Meta (Facebook) are already looking to incorporate it into their plans. But here is where we might see direct competition between companies with large budgets and small crypto teams. Regardless of who "wins", innovation and development are likely to be rapid.