The metaverse turns one: let’s take a look back at the journey so far

2022 will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most significant years for the development and definitive establishment of the metaverse. As we approach the turn of another year, it’s a good opportunity to take a look back and review the real state of things in the metaverse, as well as the path that brought us here.



Ok, the metaverse isn’t really just one year old

We should perhaps clarify here that the metaverse isn’t actually just a year in the making, far from it… The theoretical concepts and technological foundations that underpin the metaverse started to come about over two decades ago. And while they have indeed gone through various phases of development over the years, they’ve also evolved at different rates and have run into quite a few obstacles, especially in terms of hardware and software limitations.

But from those very first experiments with 3D environments to the first ‘complete’ virtual environment using avatars that Second Life represented in 2003 – perhaps the metaverse’s most distant ancestor –, followed by the release of Google Street View in 2007, or even the first Oculus VR headset prototype in 2012, the foundations of the metaverse have been building and building for years now. On the other hand, thanks to the world of video games, behavioural habits and various ‘routines’ have become so entrenched in users’ lives that they seem to be the next natural step in the metaverse.



Zuckerberg sets the pace

Beyond other significant developments in the virtual worlds of the gaming ecosystem, the truly revolutionary and defining shift within the metaverse came about via Mark Zuckerberg around a year ago, when he announced Facebook’s transition to a new corporate identity – Meta – and a daring investment of 30% of its annual income in R&D and innovation in the metaverse.

After Meta, some other greats of the tech industry followed suit, including Google, Nvidia and Microsoft, to name just a few. Indeed, Bill Gates’ behemoth recently signed a collaboration agreement with Zuckerberg’s parent company, through which they hope to grow the metaverse, rather than simply compete within it.

Developments like these have left the markets rubbing their hands. According to McKinsey, investment figures in the metaverse for 2022 stood at around $120 billion, mainly destined to establish technological pillars and lay the foundations for connectivity. According to the same consultancy firm, by 2030, the volume of business done in relation to the metaverse could be around five trillion dollars.



The metaverse is about much more than just leisure and entertainment

But how can we really make sense of these figures? Because the metaverse began this year representing a fertile field for private sector business models, with the pandemic proving that remote working wasn’t just a pipe dream. The virtual world created money.

From companies working in leisure and entertainment to Wall Street stock brokers and telecommunications companies, fashion brands and car manufacturers… they all started to develop a corporate presence in the metaverse. According to Wildbytes, in just five years’ time, 70% of brands will be active in the metaverse.

The most economically intense shift towards the metaverse is linked to real estate. The virtual real estate market will take off in the short term and companies in the sector know it. Even though we’re talking about a world of computers and virtual reality, we’ll still need to ‘build’ in the metaverse and, particularly in the US, 2022 has already seen the sale of virtual ‘plots’ or ‘lots’ suitable for building, with prices ranging from $2,000 to $40,000 a piece. In some cases, even more…



Technology and devices, the keys to the metaverse

Throughout this year, we’ve witnessed two significant steps forward for the metaverse. Firstly, the definitive emergence of the crypto world and, with it, more advanced knowledge among the general public of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, the latter being essential to the metaverse. Secondly, the launch of numerous virtual reality devices and headsets at affordable prices and with noteworthy technical and stability improvements compared to previous models.

Furthermore, VR headset manufacturers are also sensing the corporate shift towards the metaverse and are beginning to act accordingly. 2022 also saw the announcement of the sale of a ‘professional’ and high-end version of Quest Pro, the metaverse headset created by Meta, aimed at a segment of the public that sees the future of work in the metaverse, along with the ‘lives’ of a high percentage of the population as a whole.

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