For tech companies, particularly those working in 3D, immersive or creative technology, 2022 was the year of the metaverse. Following Facebook’s rebrand to Meta and the media frenzy that followed, the metaverse went mainstream.
When we started Condense in 2019, we wanted to build the infrastructure to bring live content into interactive 3D environments. Talking about it back then, the word metaverse wasn't even mentioned, but seeing the term suddenly thrust into the public consciousness was exciting.
Many more people started to think and talk about 3D interactive technology and began to form opinions on what it could be. Companies started to integrate the metaverse into their business strategies.
The metaverse is nothing new
For Condense, it was business as usual. The metaverse became a useful shorthand for the interactive, social, 3D spaces we were bringing real-world content to. Of course, the term “metaverse” isn’t new. It has its origins in science fiction. It was first used in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash to describe a virtual space away from a dystopian reality.
But it’s easy and often unhelpful to get stuck in semantics.
Demography is destiny
The reality is that people are spending more time inside virtual worlds than ever before.
Roblox has a population more than 3 times that of the United Kingdom and its users spend on average 2.6 hours within the game a day. Roblox is one of thousands of immersive digital worlds that exist online today in which billions of people are socialising, hanging out and spending their money. A recent study showed 69% of Fortnite users spend money in-game, at an average of $85.
A generation engaged
What makes the behaviour of this new generation of consumers interesting is how poorly it is understood by so many.
As a teenager I used to spend hours on messaging platforms like MSN Messenger - much to the bemusement of my parents. These habits and those of my generation led to the rise of social media platforms and the billion dollar companies that built them.
The shift towards interactive 3D worlds that is happening today is just as significant. 3D interactive environments will eventually occupy most of our time spent online and the companies that build them will be bigger than the social media giants of today.
The metaverse is under-hyped
Perhaps because of its science fiction roots, or because Facebook brought the term into the public eye, there has been some push back against the metaverse and the idea of spending time inside 3D environments. What this criticism misses is that for many people, interactive 3D is already the best way to spend their time online.
Being present inside an interactive 3D world is fundamentally different to consuming any other kind of media because it feels like you are part of it. You’re there and in the moment. You’re actively contributing to the experience, rather than being a passive observer.
We’ve been running events in our virtual venue, The Blueprint, for the past few months. What we’ve noticed is a high level of engagement from the virtual audience, with the average dwell time of our last event being greater than an hour. An internet that you feel a part of is just far more engaging and exciting.
What will the internet look like in 10 years’ time? It’s impossible to say. However, given people’s tendency to spend more and more time inside 3D interactive environments coupled with an ever increasing demand for compelling social experiences, I cannot imagine a world where the metaverse doesn’t continue to play a significant part.
Here at Condense, we believe video 3.0 - video designed specifically for real-time interactive 3D environments - presents one of the biggest opportunities of the decade. It is the only way to deliver authentic content from the real world into the metaverse and we are incredibly excited to be building the technology that enables it.