Given the rapid global adoption of social media and the steady drive toward more complex gaming experiences, it’s understandable that the metaverse has become a big priority for many leading companies.1 Technology has advanced to enable greater immersion and interaction across digital systems, and more aspects of our lives have become digitalized and virtualized since the onset of the pandemic.
The web and all it may entail is no longer just a destination or a place consumers sometimes opt into. It’s become a routine part of their lives—enough to feel very real for many people. Video games, for example, are blazing a trail toward an even more personal, social, and sticky digital future. As they become increasingly sophisticated and multilayered, they are steadily blurring the lines between real and virtual worlds. Deloitte’s 2022 Digital Media Trends survey finds that about half of U.S. gamers say playing games helped them stay connected to other people, while close to 60% say playing games helped them through a difficult time. And 61% say personalizing their game character or avatar helps them express themselves.
Yet while many consumers already spend time in the metaverse, opportunities remain untapped. In just one example of an activity that could take place in the consumer metaverse, individuals could shop for virtual clothes to wear when joining friends for a concert in the game world. Many questions remain, however—about ownership, rights, interoperability, monetization pathways, and partnerships. It’s further complicated by the ongoing empowerment of users, influencers, and content creators who can aggregate their own loyal audiences, attract advertisers, and wrestle more of the customer relationship away from businesses. What will this look like in more evolved virtual worlds architected to engage, empower, and monetize?
In the integrated marketplace of the future, streamers, social media, and gaming companies could see their business models further disrupted—not just by younger generations, but also by the emerging infrastructure of Web 3.0, according to the Digital Media Trends report. Activity is heating up, with innumerable cryptocurrencies conferring specialized rights to niche communities, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) giving weight and scarcity to digital goods, and distributed ledgers such as blockchain working to decentralize assets and distribute trust. Social game worlds built on blockchains and NFTs are attracting users—and celebrities—and monetizing the new digital scarcity.2
To gauge how people feel about the metaverse today, Deloitte conducted interviews with U.S. consumers. In the video above, interviewees express everything from confusion and trepidation to excitement. “In a virtual world, I’m concerned about people’s real intentions,” says one millennial interviewee.
For now, streaming video, social media, and gaming are all very successful without full immersion, tokenized economies, and universal interoperability. But the twin engines of capital and human behavior may be moving irrevocably toward that kind of unlimited reality. Media and entertainment companies may need to collaborate more to create a future where they remain at the center.
For more on trends in the United States and the other countries surveyed, see the full Digital Media Trends report.
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1. Bloomberg, “Metaverse may be $800 billon market, next tech platform,” December 1, 2021.
2. Kate Irwin, “Someone paid $450K to be Snoop Dogg’s metaverse neighbor,” Decrypt, December 4, 2021.
This article is part of an ongoing series of interviews with executives. The executives’ participation in this article are solely for educational purposes based on their knowledge of the subject and the views expressed by them are solely their own. This article should not be deemed or construed to be for the purpose of soliciting business for any of the companies mentioned, nor does Deloitte advocate or endorse the services or products provided by these companies.
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Original post: https://deloitte.wsj.com/articles/what-consumers-think-about-the-metaverse-01661361526