Gaming has become an immersive experience for many, thanks to the integration of technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and other emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), Web 3.0, blockchain and more. With the introduction of the metaverse, the approach to online gaming is undergoing a paradigm shift as the industry aims to revolutionise user experiences.
The metaverse is a cyberspace that mimics the real world through technology that creates immersion, interactivity and collaboration. It is considered the next internet iteration that will seamlessly combine our digital and physical lives. Users can access the metaverse through their mobile devices, computers, gaming consoles, or AR/VR compatible headsets. The metaverse aims to allow people to socialise, work, shop, attend events and play games in an immersive way.
The metaverse is set to become a ubiquitous reality in the near future, especially when it comes to social networking and gaming. According to an industry report, the market value of the metaverse is estimated to reach US$ 5 trillion by 2030. The metaverse has seen significant investments from heavyweight names in the gaming industry, such as Microsoft and Roblox. Microsoft has made a US$ 70 billion deal with Activision Blizzard, a video gaming giant, to advance its foray into the metaverse's gaming industry. As of the first half of 2022, investments in the metaverse alone stand at approximately US$ 120 billion.
In 2022, Epic Games announced a US$ 2 billion funding deal from two heavyweights, Sony and KIRKBI, the investment arm of the LEGO Group. Sony, the makers of the popular gaming console PlayStation and various gaming devices, aim to shift their focus to the metaverse through the collaboration.
Epic Games is one of the forerunners and advocates of the metaverse. They are also the owners and creators of the smash hit online game, Fortnite, a game with over 350 million users worldwide, which is considered an entry ticket to the metaverse. Epic Games also own Unreal Engine, a powerful 3D creation tool many game developers use. The tool supports the development of immersive AR, VR, and mixed reality (MR) projects, including creating full metaverses.
With Sony's VR experience, global audience, gaming library, audio and video content, and Epic Game's user database and metaverse developmental capabilities, the partnership is expected to bring about fruitful returns when it comes to the two companies' metaverse ambitions. At the same time, Epic Games' collaboration with the LEGO Group also means that the project will allow these companies to shape a child-friendly metaverse that will be immersive and engaging for the younger audience and their families.
Epic Games view Fortnite as more than just a "battle shoot 'em up" type of game – it is a space to play, socialise, and attend virtual events. As the game's popularity grew, famous artists like Ariana Grande and Travis Scott, hosted concerts using the game's virtual world capability. Gaming platforms have also incorporated blockchain technology and NFTs in their designs. The Sandbox, an Ethereum blockchain-based metaverse and gaming ecosystem with over two million registered users, allows players to create, own, trade, share and manage digital assets (in the form of NFTs) and monetise their gaming experience by using SAND—the currency of the metaverse game. The Sandbox metaverse has secured over 165 partnerships with famous brands and artists such as Adidas and Snoop Dogg.
Gaming companies and platforms have had to recalibrate their approaches to meet the metaverse's expectations and enhance users' experiences. As the metaverse is not exclusive to online gaming alone, developers must go beyond gaming and offer a multiple-use gaming platform to engage their users. The scope of gaming in the metaverse will also include services such as entertainment, education, meetings, fitness, shopping and socialising. With growing competition and investments pouring in, gaming giants are set to revolutionise online gaming in the metaverse.
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