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Gaming is probably the first thing that jumps into many people’s minds when they think of metaverse companies. Although it’s clear that the metaverse is going to go far beyond the world of video games, there is also no doubt that they are going to account for a large number of metaverse businesses. In fact, in some ways, the metaverse has already begun to establish itself through video games, and many early applications of this technology are being implemented via this medium. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the games which are being developed for the metaverse and how these are likely to change the industry.
Fortnite has been a popular game for some time now, but it is slowly morphing into something which can be considered metaverse gaming, giving us an insight into the future of this industry. Building on the initial success of the Travis Scott concert back in April 2020, in which he debuted his new single, Astronomical, Fortnite expanded the concept for Ariana Grande’s metaverse-based live music event in 2021. Not only could millions of players experience the event live, in-game all at the same time through their customized avatars, but they could also take part in several mini-games to provide a genuine combination of a music concert and a gaming experience. Gamers surfed along a rainbow-coloured racetrack, jumped and bounced their way through a fantasy landscape with pink trees and levitating eyeballs, and tried to shoot down the Storm King boss at the end of the game. During the concert, Ariana Grande appeared as a skyscraper-tall avatar of herself, performing songs while flying through the sky with the audience flying along in rainbow bubbles behind.
Another early adopter of metaverse-style concepts is Roblox, which has been around for more than a decade now but has moved gradually into the metaverse space in recent times. It provides players with a huge amount of freedom, whether it be through the ability to create their own virtual environments and games which can be shared with others, or even the option to sell in-game products to other users to earn a little money. This idea of giving more power and independence to the community is central to the metaverse experience and is likely to precipitate huge changes in the industry. In fact, experiences like those offered by Fortnite and Roblox are just the tip of the iceberg!
Metaverse video games – play and earn
One of the biggest changes set to hit the gaming world is through the introduction of Blockchain-based metaverse video games. This new form of entertainment seeks to monetize the experience for the gamer, taking the whole experience beyond simple entertainment. In these so-called ‘Play to Earn’ (P2E) games, people can make money through completing in-game tasks or creating and collecting NFTs which they can then sell to other users. One example of this is in Axie Infinity, a digital community where people can sell their in-game characters. Players raise their Axies, creatures that look a bit like a large flying cat, from an egg by completing daily activities to make sure that they’re taken care of. They can also fight other player’s Axies in Pokémon-style combat to gain experience points and unlock new abilities. Users can then sell these Axies to other players for real money using the Ethereum blockchain.
This P2E model has captured the imagination of many developers, with several aspiring metaverse companies having already created their own gaming experiences which allow players to build their own digital assets and use them to generate cash. Some have created whole worlds in which players can buy digital land, build on it, and then sell it. Decentraland is possibly the most well-known of these, having officially launched to the public in February 2020. In their trailer for the 2020 release, they claimed that 91,000 plots of land had already been traded. As the name suggests, the crucial thing about Decentraland is that it is decentralized, so that it is owned and governed by the community, something which should be an integral part of the metaverse in many people’s eyes.
From gamer to earner
Another metaverse innovation offering money-earning options is Enjin, a smart crypto-gaming currency whose designers claim that it will allow gamers to explore a new frontier in gaming through blockchain technology. Players can gain Enjin coin from cryptocurrency exchanges and then use it to create items and NFTs for different games. Once in the game, players can collect items and resources or buy them from each other and at in-game stores. These items can be converted back into Enjin coins if unable to be sold, meaning that each player’s items always have some value. This builds on the in-store purchases which have become a mainstay of gaming in recent years to give some of the earning power back to the gamer.
Ideas like Enjin coin and P2E are opening the world of gaming to a much wider range of people and could lead to the development of whole new industries and careers. One metaverse space which could facilitate such a change is Sandbox. In this world, gamers can own, build, and trade virtual lands, create an unlimited number of NFTs, build games, customize the behaviours of their avatars and the parameters of their experience, and even generate new digital jobs, making the virtual experience infinitely customizable and unique. And all of these gaming assets can be traded with other members of the community, meaning that people could potentially earn full incomes in such metaverse worlds in years to come.
Metaverse games – incomplete and imperfect technology
At the moment, many metaverse games are only halfway there; they have created open world simulated realities, such as those seen in Roblox. Games like Enjin and Sandbox take this concept closer to the metaverse, where our daily lives are integrated with our digital lives to give us a more felt experience of the virtual universe. Some people are cynical about the metaverse businesses, suggesting that the need to buy headsets or set up crypto wallets creates barriers to entry for many, and that people don’t play games to earn money, but rather to connect with their friends and have fun. There are also possible issues with our ability to scale the metaverse to accommodate enough digital avatars for it to be successful. Server size has already created limitations for online gaming, and it’s not clear that there won’t be similar issues for metaverse gaming.
One other big issue for the gaming world is that current VR multiplayer games have very poor graphics – they just don’t look as good as their non-VR counterparts. And, despite the limited processing power of current headsets, there really is no reason why this should be the case, especially if we consider the visual quality of the commercial extended reality sector. The gaming industry could really learn a lot from companies such as XR Wizards, whose Mazer platform is much more successful in recreating realistic human-like avatars and complex objects, gradually moving the technology towards photorealism. For example, Mazer’s full-body avatars can replicate natural eye contact, helping to express emotions clearly, and real-time voice recognition allows near-perfect lip-syncing.
Despite these concerns, many developers have shown what is possible and, as technology improves, these experiences are only going to get better. Without a doubt, the metaverse is going to offer gamers the chance to explore, interact, and create in a shared virtual world, making it the perfect place for gaming aficionados and professionals to combine and advance the world of gaming together.