If the metaverse is not simply a web space, it is because it is broken down into several types. The permanent evolution of the web implies a mutation of virtual spaces as we know them. The metaverse, which many consider to be the next web stage, is also adapting to the new uses of the web3. Currently, the forms of metaverse that can be counted today outline an ideal towards which to aim. For a market estimated at 36 billion dollars in 2021 (Source: Grand View Research), the metaverse is not a trend, but a continuity.
What is the metaverse?
To speak of the metaverse is to refer to a new web dimension represented in the form of 3D virtual terrains in which interaction and immersion are constant. The metaverse is an online virtual universe, accessible and shared. With Virtual and Augmented Realities, this open virtual space will bring together any physical person, in an environment dedicated to the creation and exploration of a life in the form of an avatar.
The metaverse wants to gather an infinity of services available in real life as well as in the virtual world. It is perceived as a place of exchange that offers the possibility to anyone to exchange and share what they want. The metaverse is intended to be immersive, and will be the gateway to interaction paths where virtual shops and markets, entertainment, culture, tourism, education, intersect. As said formely, it is not a matter of break but of continuity, if not a change of format. It is an augmented and virtual extension of real life.
Many brands have taken the plunge and are reinventing the user experience in the metaverse. But if it is already extremely popular, it is important to underline the fact that there are several types of metaverse.
The different types of metaverse
Today’s metaverses do not all have the same form. Many of them refer mainly to the “virtual space” type rather than to a decentralized universe. It is important to distinguish between traditional metaverses in other words, those of the web2 and web3 metaverses, precisely metaverses that are based on the blockchain system. But within these categories, there are still variations insofar as not all current or future web3 metaverses are decentralized worlds.
Traditional centralized metaverses – Web2 types of metaverse
These metaverses do not integrate blockchain in their mechanism and operate on a centralized system. In other words, they are virtual spaces controlled by a central organization that holds the users’ data. In these worlds, the user has an avatar that he will progress through the game. It is usually a question of role-playing in these virtual worlds. It is however possible in these interfaces to graft a blockchain to build a digital economic system.
The significant advantage of these types of metaverses is that they have the most users. The game Fortnite for example gathers about 278 million users. For a brand which wants to bet on quantity, this choice of metaverse can be attractive. We can also count as traditional centralized metaverses Grand Theft Auto V online (GTA V), Minecraft, game Roblox. Fashion brands are easily found in these metaverses because an avatar is a central component. Brands would offer users wearables for their avatar, or playful experiences that allow them to unlock benefits.
Centralized Blockchain Metaverse – Web3 types of metaverse
As types of metaverse, blockchain metaverses allow interactions to evolve within virtual spaces. This creates a complete digital economic environment in which users monetize their acquisitions and creations. In these systems, we can as well find NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) which are exchanged or traded. It works on crypto payments, but user data are allegedly held by a third party.
For instance, the next Meta metaverse that the Meta group is building, or Earth2 are centralized Blockchain metaverses.
Decentralized Blockchain metaverse – Web3 types of metaverse
These metaverses are usually based on a system called DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization).
A DAO is a system in which smart contracts will build the rules within a given metaverse. In decentralized blockchain metaverses, the decision-making power does not lie with a central organization, but with the users. Each user who owns a token of the metaverse carries out a decisional role on the administration of the virtual world in which he evolves. Blockchain metaverses also develop a virtual economy based on cryptocurrencies. This type of metaverse is known to be the most successful form of the metaverse insofar it better embodies what the metaverse genuinely is.
Decentralized blockchain metaverses have the particularity of creating a community dynamic, where the balance of power is reversed. Within decentralized platforms, the concept of wealth redistribution makes more sense, as the governance system is horizontal. The user can take back the power over what belongs to him, in other words his data, in the first instance. A content creator, for example, will be able to monetize his creations and resell them on these platforms.
The principle of decentralized metaverses is additionally the possibility for the user to be rewarded, by items or virtual currency. It is in these metaverses that the “Play-to-earn”, “Create-to-earn“, “Engage-to-earn” type of earning mechanisms in NFT are the most visible. This means rethinking the engagement model and involving users or collaborators in such a way that they likewise feel part of the ecosystem. We are no longer on a vertical model where the user is subjected to the content. He is then a creator too.
Examples include The Sandbox and Axie Infinity metaverse, also based on the play-to-earn model giving the user the capacity to earn tokens or cryptocurrency by playing. Decentraland is also an example, but on a more traditional note where users own and trade plots of land. Brands are already using the Decentraland metaverse to hold events, such as the Metaverse Fashion Week which took place in March 2022. The studio YugaLabs, creator of the famous NFT Bored Ape Yatch Club collection, is building a decentralized metaverse called the Otherside.
In these metaverses, we will easily find organizations with a social scope, which will tend towards the equality of all and an equitable redistribution of power within the community.
On which basis a brand should chose their metaverse?
For a brand, the matter of choosing a metaverse is based on the experience it aims at delivering. It is possible on each metaverse to create a diversity of experiences for its users. But as we are gradually moving towards a decentralized business model, it might seem clever for brands to position themselves on metaverses that offer this possibility.
Positioning yourself on a metaverse does not mean throwing virtual assets in the face of your consumers to buy or to have avatar. You must first:
- Position yourself in the metaverse where you will find a good part of your target
- Position yourself in a metaverse that brings together a potential target. For a brand wanting to rejuvenate its audience, for example, it’s beneficial to bet on a metaverse where there is the most GenZ
- Enhance the storytelling. What makes a brand is its storytelling, its identity, its values. The proposed brand experience will stem from these few aspects
- Define your strategic objectives
- Focus on the experience to be delivered and its added value to users
The best move for a brand wanting to go on metaverses is to call upon METAV.RS, which will help them build great metaverse experiences associating premium 3D and Augmented Reality.
Gucci x Roblox
The brand Gucci offered its users in the Roblox metaverse an interactive space in the tons of its identity. In this virtual environment, there was also a virtual Gucci store, where virtual Gucci bags were available for sale, at prices much lower than those in real life. In order to fuel the scarcity, Gucci released a very limited edition of these virtual bags for sale, which caused their price to skyrocket when resold.
Coca-Cola x Decentraland
In collaboration with the start-up Tafi, Coca-Cola distributed within the metaverse Decentraland a series of collectible NFT. This was in the form of a friendship box containing NFTs such as a bubble jacket in the brand’s colors or a vending machine. A virtual event on Decentraland was organized for the occasion.
Carrefour x The SandBox
Carrefour has bet on an ecological message for its entry in the metaverse The SandBox. The brand has released its first collection of NFT under the aegis of the protection of bees. These 15 NFBees aim to raise awareness against the disappearance of certain fruits and vegetables if bees were to disappear. The brand also offers an educational and fun tour in the form of a game about bees within the same metaverse The SandBox.
Nike x Fortnite
Nike for the launch of Nike Air Jordans combined purchasing and gaming experience within Fortnite. It was about winning challenges in the Fornite game to be able to customize the sneakers purchased in the game. As a result, Nike did not rely on scarcity as an experience in the metaverse, but rather on the game, in that anyone could purchase a pair of sneakers that cost just under $20. But only experienced players could customize their assets to their liking.
In the metaverse, brands can reinvent themselves and shape the user experience. They are gradually building a brand image in the metaverse. The metaverse represents a prevailing current and a future lucrative potential with which brands will be able to retain a young audience. As virtual spaces allow for permanent interaction, brands will be in direct contact with their users and will be able to innovate in terms of engagement and loyalty levers.