This Week in the Metaverse (W02.2023)
The Big Read: Gaming’s impact on the future of the Internet has only just began; Fascinating conversation with Steve May (Pixar's CTO) on Into The Metaverse podcast; Plus weekly news rollup
Hey, I’m Yon. Welcome to Into The Metaverse! My mission is to help you understand what is the metaverse, how it will impact our lives, and what opportunities it unlocks. If you are a marketer, entrepreneur, investor or simply a curious professional, Into The Metaverse is for you. Subscribe (free) to get access to every letter and podcast show that I publish.
Here’s what I’ve got for you this week:
The Big Read: Gaming’s impact on the future of the Internet has only just began
Latest on Into The Metaverse podcast: A conversation with Steve May - Chief Technology Officer of Pixar Animation Studios
Weekly News Rollup
Let’s dig in!
(1) The Big Read: Gaming’s impact on the future of the Internet has only just began
Politico’s Derek Robertson reached out to me earlier this week to get my perspective on how the gaming industry is helping to shape the future of the Internet and push technology forward. In his piece, Derek writes: “We’re far beyond the point where gaming can be treated as a novelty or distraction. It’s a culture-shaping, $200-plus-billion industry of its own. If you’re reading this, you know all that, of course. But in a moment when questions like “what is the metaverse” are becoming central to how the future gets built, games may be the most important part of the story right now.”
Building next-generation virtual worlds with Supersocial over the past 2.5 years, as well as more broadly consumer tech products over the past decade, I had a front row seat into the evolution of 3D worlds and their impact on youth culture. Minecraft blew up in 2012 and Roblox started to pick up steam in 2015 but gaming companies have been pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to create with technology for the past 40 years. Nintendo was one of the first companies who used advanced technology to create games and experiences that pushed our imagination forward.
In response to Derek’s question, I argued that “despite the size of the industry, the extent to which video games shape both technology and our overall culture still isn’t quite appreciated.” I continued saying that “some of the most innovative companies in technology, like Nvidia, started as part of the gaming industry and are now supporting every industry… and that came from pushing the boundaries of what technology enables [in gaming], which isn’t surprising, because entertainment and immersive storytelling and playing and socializing are human needs.”
One of the reasons that got me so excited to start Supersocial and keep me fired up every day is that video games are “worlds that historically have been multiplayer experiences for core gamers, like World of Warcraft, [but] are now available in a different form to a new generation of kids who started to look at them not as multiplayer environments for games, but just as the next iteration of where they live with their friends”. [They] are evolving into environments that will feature all other types of human activities.”
If someone would have asked me 5 years ago if I think a cosmetics brand will have its own bespoke video game on a platform like Roblox in the future, my answer would be that it’s a ludicrous idea. But in 2022 it happened - in a partnership between prestige beauty brand, NARS Cosmetics, and Supersocial we launched NARS Color Quest on Roblox and proving that there is genuine demand by a new generation of Internet users to use video games not only for play and to be entertained but also, and perhaps more importantly, to express themselves in new, unique ways and be part of like-minded community.
I believe that in the coming years this trend will only accelerate and we will look back and forget how obvious the idea was that every brand, and every business, will have their own bespoke video game and virtual world. Th reason is that the very notion of what is a “video game” is rapidly evolving, faster than ever before.
(2) Latest on Into The Metaverse podcast: A conversation with Steve May - CTO, Pixar Animation Studios
In episode #40 I hosted Steve May, Chief Technology Officer of Pixar, the iconic animation studio behind movies such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Monsters, among so many others. We cover in detail Steve’s perspectives on the metaverse and why the metaverse is important as well as what next generation storytelling might look like.
We talk about Steve’s role as a “chief change officer”, how Pixar is a movie company that is “accidentally” building cutting-edge technologies for a few hundred people who are the best in the world in what they do, and why a large part of the metaverse promise is about connecting the physical and virtual worlds.
Listen: Spotify / Anchor / Google
(3) Weekly News Rollup
Unstoppable Domains and Ready Player Me Team Up to Create Interoperable Metaverse Identities (CoinDesk) → Users who connect their avatar to their Unstoppable identity will be able to access over 6,000 of Ready Player Me’s applications, games and metaverse, in addition to Unstoppable’s 650 partner apps. Complement this with episode 27 of Into The Metaverse podcast where Timmu Toke (CEO of Ready Player Me) discuss in detail why avatars will be a big deal in the metaverse (link).
House of Blueberry launches Boy Meets Girl digital wearables on Roblox (VentureBeat) → House of Blueberry and Boy Meets Girl worked together to design and create a digital collection, which takes inspiration from the brand’s “cool kid” style. The four unisex digital wearables are representative of Boy Meets Girl’s bestsellers and brand staples. Complement this with episode 35 of Into The Metaverse podcast where I discuss avatar goods in detail with Mishi McDuff (CEO of House of Blueberry).
How brands are using the metaverse to solve business challenges (Digiday) → Highlights:
“According to the Sitecore report, one in three (31%) marketers say the metaverse is already part of their current marketing programs and 55% have plans to use it in the future. Marketers who are willing to experiment and dive into the metaverse are envisioning these virtual environments as a way to address brand awareness (68%), customer engagement (59%) and new product or category creation (55%).”
“To further foster engagement with consumers, marketers plan to use emerging offerings such as creating community settings or forums for users with similar interests (57%), developing inclusive experiences that represent a diverse set of users (55%) and gamifying experiences by allowing users to earn rewards for activities (51%).”
“For now, the most important ways marketers are measuring the ROI of their metaverse activations are bringing new buyers to the brand (54%), gaining new followers (51%) and driving direct sales revenue (50%).”
“nearly 7 in 10 businesses (69%) have current or future plans to build metaverse experiences in 2023, and 48% of those planning to invest in 2023 are dedicating 10-25% of their marketing budgets to the metaverse.”
Complement this with episode 29 of Into The Metaverse podcast where I discuss with Jane how brands can enter the metaverse.
Roblox’s new Creator Hub could make things a lot easier for developers (The Verge) → Roblox is officially completing its rollout of the Creator Hub, a new hub that gives developers more tools and centralizes things like documentation and a developer forum into one place. Complement this with episode 21 of Into The Metaverse podcast where I discuss the Roblox platform in detail with Tami Bhaumik, VP of Civility and Partnerships at Roblox.
Worlds, a company that builds digital twins of floor operations for industrial companies to let them become more productive or efficient, said it has raised $21.2 million in a series A round of funding (VentureBeat). Complement this with episode 22 of Into The Metaverse podcast where I discuss NVIDIA’s omniverse with Rev Lebaredian, its VP of Omniverse and Simulation.
L’Oréal Invests in Metaverse Start-Up (BOF) → L’Oréal’s minority investment in Digital Village, a platform that allows brands to develop blockchain-enabled 3D spaces from end to end, was made through L’Oréal’s corporate venture capital fund, BOLD.
Roblox may arrive on Meta Quest later this year (TechCrunch) → It appears that Roblox could be getting its moment to shine on Meta’s virtual reality headset. According to The Verge’s Command Line newsletter, sources say that Roblox might be planning to come to Quest in late 2023.
Apple and the Metaverse: Everything We Know So Far (Decrypt) → Apple’s mixed reality headset is reportedly on the horizon, but will its immersive vision tie into the Web3 metaverse?
Inside the metaverse meetups that let people share on death, grief, and pain (MIT Technology Review)
HBO's 'The Last of Us' Is a Stunning Triumph of Video Game Adaptation (CNET)
Australian Open launches a virtual experience on Roblox (Blockworks)
Essays and blog posts worth reading -
Progressive Decentralization for Media (Li Jin) → Building a creative community starts with great content, before layering in community ownership.
AI in 2023: The Application Layer Has Arrived (Digital Native) → Use Cases for Algorithmic Recommendations, Image Models, & Language Models
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