Value creation in the metaverse June 2022

Defining the undefined: What is the metaverse, really?

It is a gaming platform, a virtual retail destination, a training tool, an advertising channel, a digital classroom, a new gateway to digital experiences. This open world seems to be whatever people’s imaginations dream it to be. Despite being around for decades, the metaverse remains hard to describe. The metaverse is real, possibly revolutionary, and a huge opportunity, beyond the hype. How it develops is unknown.

The mainstream opinion is that the metaverse is the next version of the internet when we are immersed in it rather than seeing it. “The metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet,” MarkZuckerberg said last November as he announced that the name of the company he co-founded, Facebook, was changing to Meta. “We’ll be able to feel present—like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are.”

Following the money: What is driving investment?

Interest in the metaverse has exploded. Global Google searches for “metaverse” soared 7,200% last year, and Roblox allegedly topped 55 million daily active users in 2022. More than $10 billion was invested in Meta’s Reality Labs business, which develops VR goggles. And Microsoft said its planned $69 billion acquisition of gaming company Activision Blizzard would “provide building blocks for the metaverse.”

This rising interest makes it hard to discern hype from reality. Since the internet or any technical innovation, this has been the case. We go through phases of heightened excitement about what is possible and may emerge, and it’s impossible not to go back to the early days of the internet. Despite the implosion of the first dot-com boom, the internet only grew pervasive.

Virtual real estate has also been in the spotlight—an anonymous user reportedly paid $450,000 to purchase a plot of virtual land in The Sandbox next to Snoop Dogg’s virtual residence, “Snoopverse.” As with cryptocurrency and NFTs, the virtual real-estate asset market will likely remain volatile in the near term. In the meantime, while there may be consolidation in the future, the list of metaverse platforms continues to grow and diversify  

Scanning the horizon: How is consumer and business behavior evolving?

Both personally and professionally, we’ve long embraced technology. In the past two years, many have quickly and largely seamlessly adjusted to doing more daily activities virtually, both on the job (videoconferencing) and in private (socializing, dating). The pandemic also accelerated the adoption of e-commerce, and we relied more than ever on technology to live our lives.

Many consumers and executives are already using the metaverse and eager to grasp its potential, according to our research. Many companies and industries push the digital frontier, but others are wary.  

Envisioning the potential: How significant could the metaverse’s impact be?

Revolutionary ideas that never materialize or take much longer than expected are not rare in history. It took the better part of 80 years for AI to mature, having formally emerged as a concept during World War II. Despite all of the advances in AI technology over the past 20 years—and its apparent ubiquity today—AI did not reach its full potential until recently.

The metaverse will likely be different. While it is in its early stages and far from its potential end state, the metaverse’s underlying technology already exists. Users are accustomed to what it currently provides— and excited about what it could become. And, crucially, early metaverse adopters are organizing themselves differently to move at speed as it evolves.

Moving at speed: How do you capture value, and what can you do today?

The nascent metaverse’s appeal will become clear to those who take the time to learn more about it. Leaders are then faced with two questions: what role does your company want to play, and how should you get ready? Companies can participate in and profit from the metaverse in a variety of ways, from what we refer to as “world builders” (creating and managing a private digital world and platform) to offering goods and services to metaverse users to developing hardware and software. However, defining your metaverse goals is only the first step in formulating a stance

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