The future of the metaverse is in mobile apps
The term metaverse surged into mainstream conversation when Facebook announced its rebrand to Meta in favor of exploring virtual social connection via the metaverse. Much like we say we need a Kleenex instead of a tissue or a Band-Aid instead of a bandage, the metaverse concept has become synonymous with Meta’s upcoming metaverse app release. The tech mogul has even dedicated an entire division of its company to the creation of augmented reality and virtual reality (VR) hardware, software, and content.
Let’s take a look at what the metaverse is (without the brand name), and what it will mean for Meta’s own app.
What is a metaverse app?
A metaverse app is an application that enables virtual interaction over a network of 3D worlds. Consider what it would be like to live your day-to-day life without having to leave the living room. That’s the metaverse! Think of it as a much more realistic version of The Sims, where you interact with other real-world players. In the metaverse, you can work, attend events, view movies, go shopping, exercise, explore a virtual world, and interact with other metaverse users. The aim is to feel truly immersed, as though the virtual world you are experiencing has become your true reality.
The application itself is hosted on an internet-connected device. Depending on the metaverse software, this could be VR hardware, a computer, or a mobile phone.
There are a few distinct elements of a metaverse:
- Personal avatars
- Virtual reality devices
- Navigable virtual environment
Is there an app for the metaverse?
A number of metaverse apps already exist. VRChat is one of the most popular. Available on Steam, Quest, Rift, and Viveport, users can access more than 25,000 worlds created by the VRChat community. Decentraland is another leading world-building and exploration platform. With a fully developed virtual marketplace selling virtual land, wearables, avatars, and avatar names, Decentraland is a great example of how metaverse apps are incredibly easy to monetize.
The Sandbox boasts both world-building and game-building, allowing users complete control over the blockchain used to create the Sandbox metaverse. Users can even sell the virtual elements which they have created. Another great example of potential monetization streams, The Sandbox has partnered with big brands such as Adidas, Warner Music Group, deadmau5, Richie Hawtin, Snoop Dogg, Pororo, Shaun the Sheep, The Walking Dead, Atari, PwC Hong Kong, Care Bears, and The Smurfs.
Is metaverse on mobile?
The metaverse in its full glory, as described above, is still confined to VR hardware sets. This is because a high level of computing power is needed to properly facilitate the depth of graphics and real-time interaction with other users. Plus, VR headsets are the closest a user can come to feeling fully immersed in another world, which is the purpose of a metaverse.
However, now that the term metaverse has drastically grown in acclaim, many app developers and marketers are using “meta” or “metaverse” to describe features of their apps. As of February 2022, over 500 apps have included the keyword “metaverse” in the description or title of their app.
Of all mobile app verticals, gaming has shepherded this migration with over 100 apps referencing the metaverse. Some mobile games are diving head-first into the augmented reality space with virtual gaming experiences. For example, Highrise allows players to create an avatar and live out a second life virtually via the app. Similarly, IMVU allows players to “live out” virtual experiences from hosting events to going on dates with other users. Set in a more fantasy-themed “future society”, Cyberpop combines world exploration and combat with a virtual economy and user-generated content.
How does Meta’s metaverse app work?
In December of 2021, Meta launched its first metaverse app, Horizon Worlds. By February 2022, the platform already had 300,000 users, who had created over 100,000 virtual worlds. The Horizon Worlds metaverse can currently only be accessed with an Oculus Quest or Oculus Quest 2 headset. Gameplay can be conducted in sitting, standing, or room-scale modes.
Users can virtually attend music performances by popular artists, sporting events, comedy shows, and community-hosted events. Games and puzzles can be played independently or in teams with other Horizon Worlds users. Users also have the ability to build upon the existing virtual environment in addition to exploring it.
It won’t be long before we will see a version of Horizon Worlds available on mobile phones. In early 2022, Mark Zuckerberg claimed, “This year, we plan to launch a version of Horizon on mobile too, that will bring early metaverse experiences to more surfaces beyond VR. So while the deepest and most immersive experiences are going to be in virtual reality, you’re also going to be able to access the worlds from your Facebook or Instagram apps as well, and probably more over time.”
Metaverse apps clearly hold a lot of opportunity for mobile app developers, particularly in the gaming vertical. The launch of Horizon Worlds on mobile is sure to kick-start a faster progression to interacting with virtual reality from the palm of your hand.