Marketing the Metaverse: How Companies are Creating a New Reality

Companies across the tech industry are moving into the virtual space with metaverse initiatives. But what form will this new world take, and how much control will users have over it?

Photo: Julien Tromeur via Unsplash

When we talk about the metaverse, it’s easy to imagine it as a work of science fiction, much like that of classics like Ready Player One or Snowcrash. But as technology continues to advance, it’s clear that a complex, expansive virtual universe is already becoming an integral part of our lives. 

With Microsoft’s recent acquisition of one of the largest video game companies, Activision Blizzard and Facebook’s rebranding to Meta, the metaverse has gotten attention for what it currently is—and what it has the potential to be. 

As expected, major corporations are quickly following suit and voicing their support for the metaverse to come to life, from other gaming companies like Epic—home of the famous battle royale game, Fortnite—to 3D virtual world platforms like Decentraland. Whether it’s for the purposes of escapism and leisure or the exchange of virtual goods and services, they intend to pioneer the metaverse and help it thrive. 

This begs the question: what does it really look like for the metaverse to become a normal facet of our society? Are we opening the doors to unprecedented growth and opportunity, or are we tampering with technology that may pose more challenges than solutions?

Fortnite redefines the virtual interactive space

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney is unabashedly one of the biggest supporters of the metaverse (aside from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg). Fortnite has inarguably dominated the video game market with its many capabilities, allowing users to explore and engage with a vast digital social space. Presenting themselves as unique avatars, players can participate not only in various multiplayer games but also in virtual movies, concerts, and other entertainment events. Whatever leisurely activity they enjoy in the real world can easily be accessed online. 

With a wildly successful gaming and social platform as their foundation, Epic Games may already be a few steps ahead of other eager competitors. Their strategy thus far has been simple and effective: appeal first to a massively tech-savvy generation of players, then continue to introduce new features. Whereas their main demographic of users were primarily younger audiences, they’ve since grown to include more content for adults, welcoming a more vast user base. 

Sweeney’s vision of the metaverse doesn’t just stop there. As they continue to develop the virtual hub, he believes that they should gradually move past the social media era and discover new, more meaningful ways to connect with their users. Instead of pushing irrelevant ads and content like current-day social networks, Fortnite partners with brands to weave their products seamlessly into the game, which then allows players to interact with them as they wish. The metaverse, he argues, can only be successful if it’s driven by a community that prioritizes fun and engagement. 

Considering that Epic Games has recently raised $1 billion—with $200 million coming from Sony—to further enhance their virtual world, it won’t be surprising if they continue to remain at the forefront of what’s possibly the next internet evolution. They’re not just seeking to expand the virtual space; they’re intentional in redefining it.

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Decentraland creates a flourishing virtual economy  

As the metaverse grows, so does its marketplace—specifically in digital real estate. Already, investors are putting millions of dollars into virtual plots of land that can be used for both personal and business-related interactions. And so far, Decentraland is one the main platforms where these transactions are taking place. 

Essentially, Decentraland is one type of metaverse established on the Ethereum blockchain that allows users to acquire and sell virtual property through the MANA cryptocurrency. Once a user purchases a location, they’re free to world-build as they please, whether they want to recreate entire city landscapes or smaller entertainment spaces, like museums and casinos. They can also create games and businesses that other users are free to engage with. 

One of its main selling points is that people are able to make a considerable profit by buying, developing, and selling land on the Decentraland platform. Their earnings, which are blockchain-based tokens, can then translate to value in the real world. This gives users the ability to make a sizable income—as long as they know how to build and trade strategically. 

Similar to Fortnite, Decentraland elevates the importance of community. Through a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), users are able to govern the rules that determine how the virtual world operates. This aims to give power to the people, allowing them to decide which auctions, NFT contracts, wearables, and other updates are allowed in Decentraland. 

With the virtual world being relatively user-friendly, Decentraland helps simplify and gamify cryptocurrency transactions for even the most novice users. It’s a comfortable introduction to the metaverse, allowing users a special glimpse of its capabilities without intimidating them with its breadth and complexity. 

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The future of tech is uncertain 

With great power comes great responsibility—but in the metaverse, it’s hard to say who truly has the power and who will be held accountable for how it progresses. 

As excited as these investors and tech companies are with this developing technology, there are others who are less optimistic about what lies in its future. Due to increasing data privacy concerns and possible digital safety violations, what’s supposed to be a fascinating, futuristic universe of limitless growth can easily turn into another unsettling episode of “Black Mirror.” 

Just like any part of the world that is unexplored, there are unprecedented risks that people must be prepared to face. The metaverse isn’t a centralized, regulated space. If anything, it’s the complete opposite, with multiple digital ecosystems and platforms that are not under any formal jurisdiction. And when we integrate technologies like blockchain, augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence into this digital experiment, it adds layers of complexity and possible threats that we might not yet have answers for. 

Are we truly ready to mix these realities together, vanishing the boundaries between our physical and virtual worlds? Only time will be able to tell. For now, we know one thing for certain: the metaverse is already amongst us, expanding and evolving—and it’s here to stay.

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Shi-won Oh

Shi-won Oh

Former 6th Grade ELA teacher, now copywriter, Shi-won loves to use writing as a tool to empower, educate, and entertain. She enjoys collecting books for her library, daydreaming about Middle Earth, and searching for the coziest Korean restaurants in Queens.

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