When Will the Metaverse Actually Be Here?

The technology for launching and running the metaverse is being developed as we speak. Some companies, like those in the virtual reality (VR) or video gaming industries are already training users to get comfortable interacting and exploring virtual environments. The metaverse, a term describing a virtual universe that is internet-based, has already been met with mixed reviews. While some are looking forward to it and others are dreading it, the question on everyone’s mind is when will it be here?

There are many different sectors that make up the metaverse. From online video games to VR to augmented reality (AR), the metaverse needs multi-sector funding in order to be properly launched. This can affect the timeline of the metaverse’s arrival. In a USA Today article, CEO Mark Zuckerberg of Meta (formerly Facebook) predicted that it would be another five to 10 years before the metaverse has been properly established. While VR and video game companies already have metaverse technology, other industries have to play catch up. “There are too many competing technologies and ideas about what the metaverse should be, and how it will look like,” explained Daniel Marcinkowski, Marketing Manager at Ready Player Me, an avatar creator company. While the idea of one uniform metaverse is appealing, it just isn’t realistic. “The metaverse is more likely to be like the internet-made of millions of virtual worlds glued together by different technologies and ways to interact with it,” Marcinkowski added. Ready Player Me creates custom avatars for its users and is already implementing metaverse technology for video gamers and VR users alike. 

One of the biggest delays in launching the metaverse is the connection between different programs. This requires regulations and standards, so some users aren’t just in one company’s metaverse and others are in another metaverse and these metaverses can’t connect. This leads to other issues, like who will be running the metaverse. Meta is planning to control the main power supply, but other metaverse companies are vying for that right. There is a race between big data companies, like Microsoft and Meta, and smaller metaverse companies to stake their virtual claims. Due to this, the market ecosystem is hard to predict.

This race for metaverse space has also led to some interesting partnerships. The fashion company Gucci has paired with gaming platform company Roblox to create virtual retail products. Coca-Cola and Clinique are also partnering with metaverse companies to create virtual consumer products. This is creating a bandwagon that many companies are trying to jump on, injecting their business into the growing virtual landscape. This in turn is pouring more capital into metaverse technology markets. 

Other companies are working to raise more funding to get a bigger piece of the virtual pie. Epic Games, the company that created Fortnite, has raised over $ 1 billion to work on developing its own metaverse technology. Other companies are sure to follow suit, as the market continues to grow. This creates new opportunities for investors in metaverse technology, as they can get in early while the market is still growing, only to cash out with a significant ROI later on when the technology launches. 

The significant capital and rise in partnerships contribute to hastening the metaverse’s timeline. The future of when this technology will officially be launched is still a bit murky, but it will undoubtedly be here sooner rather than later. What that means for the rest of us is that it won’t be long until we find ourselves in a new virtual experience filled with companies we’re already familiar with.

Photo Courtesy of Freepik.com

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Castleberry is the Science Communicator at JILA (formerly known as the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics) at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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