In the short term, many games will become metaverses. In the longer term, a few dominant metaverses will emerge based on the evolution of those gaming metaverses.
Many games have already introduced elements of a metaverse. Games have hosted concerts for big-name artists like Travis Scott (Fortnite) and Lil Nas X (Roblox), weddings (Animal Crossing), and birthday parties (Roblox). We’ve also seen prominent fashion brands releasing in-game drops with real-world counterparts (Fortnite x Jordan).
We’ve seen blockchain enable the development of crypto-based GameFi economies (Axie Infinity), and virtual real estate booms (The Sandbox). In addition, games like Fortnite and Roblox have modes in which people, via their avatars, can just meet up and hang out virtually. All of these elements indicate that games themselves will provide the kinds of metaverse-like interactions that many people predict.
The recent history of Las Vegas actually provides an apt model for how games will evolve. In 1984, gaming (slots, table games, etc.) constituted 60% of total revenue on the Strip, but gaming revenue has declined rapidly in the decades since. By 2014, the vast majority of visitors went to Vegas for vacation or pleasure, rather than gambling. I believe that, as in Vegas, games’ immersive qualities will overtake core game mechanics as the primary driver of engagement.
As the adoption of metaverse-like features grows, users will increasingly turn to games to connect with friends, shows, perks, and experiences, and gameplay itself will become secondary.
With these ideas in mind, developers can look for ways to innovate and augment their own games. Devs can think creatively about their digital real estate, as well as concerts, events, holidays, and more to figure out how to maximize hosting capabilities. Cosmetics provide another significant opportunity, with possibilities ranging from NFTs to brand collaborations and beyond. Now is the time for developers to be looking ahead at how they can cultivate and grow their games into metaverses down the road, and maximize the potential of the virtual experiences they provide.