GAMEVERTISING AND ENTERTAINMENT
NEW RETAIL BORDERS
DIGITAL REAL ESTATE AND TRAVELPORTATION
SMART HEALTHCARE AND DIGITAL RELATIONSHIPS
An overview of the most promising areas of application in the metaverse, with gaming as a cross-dimension and a privileged laboratory for experimenting technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR), up to the one that summarises them all and will probably characterise the future, that is, Extended Reality (XR). Gamevertising and entertainment, new retail frontiers and virtual locations, digital real estate, travelportation, smart healthcare and digital relationships: let’s look at some examples of real applications.
The gamingsector has become a huge amusement park of sorts for brands that wish to connect with their audiences. According to a 2021 report by Tecnovio, a research firm, the size of the in-game advertising market is expected to grow by $10.97 billion between 2020 and 2024. According to Grant Paterson of Wunderman Thompson, gaming is enabling the birth of a new consumer model. Gaming has significantly evolved moving progressively toward the creation of spaces where people meet, rather than simply providing a gaming experience for the individual.
Generation Z, which is difficult to reach through “traditional” media, is captured through gaming, which is not just any other media: it has higher features of engagement and interactivity that most brands try to exploit. Gaming platforms such as Fortnite and Roblox are entering into partnerships with brands like Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton: exclusive outfits both in the game and on the brand’s website, not just skins but a full brand presence in the digital world. For example, Gucci, in addition to launching virtual sneakers wearable only with AR, has created special events, including a tennis tournament. Many well-known brands are working on non-fungible tokens (NFT). New brands dedicated to design and sale of digital-only and contactless fashion are emerging. The trend seems to be for an endless wardrobe of digital fashion items side by side with an exclusive wardrobe of physical items. Next to fashion brands there are also automobile brands, such as Maserati, Aston Martin, and Tesla, which launched virtual models of their vehicles within games.
How entertainment is changing: among concerts, gameplay, and Hollywood
Gaming platforms and technologies are already used to re-imagine the entertainment industry. ITV, the British broadcaster is offering new viewing channels through Fortnite’s Creative Mode, recreating its popular game The Void in Fortnite in July 2021. Netflix recreated an interactive world dedicated to Stranger Things on Roblox, combining the world of streaming with that of gaming. In June, the Tribeca Film Festival announced a partnership with Epic Games to collaborate with the Unreal Engine, the technology used by Epic Games to develop its games with independent directors. The SXSW, Austin film festival, created a rendering of downtown Austin with augmented gaming elements. More than 100,000 participants, via PC or visor, virtually wandered through film screenings, happy hours, theater performances and lectures. The organizers wanted to recreating in person the spontaneous atmosphere of the festival: a new type of media seems to be emerging, a hybrid form that is not yet fully defined and definable, where entertainment experiences are mixed with interactive elements and a different way of living leisure time.
The new frontiers of retail
Augmented shopping is born: AR technologies are opening the way to the next frontiers in retail and to new selling experiences in all sectors. If the pandemic speeded up the process of the transition – already underway for years – from the physical stores to eCommerce, the need to optimize digital stores with browsable immersive stores, flagship stores, and fully virtual stores that present products in full detail and allow people to position the products (e.g. furniture) in their homes via rendering is gradually becoming more widespread. The goal is not simply to imitate the real world through 3D; it is to create exclusive events that are realistic, but not necessarily repeatable in real life. The digital stores even if they were created to imitate the physical ones are borderless and offer multiple creative opportunities. Beyond the experiments of luxury brands, also popular brands such as Sephora, Ikea and Samsung are already integrating AR technology into their stores. According to ABI Research, a consulting firm, augmented reality in retail, commerce and marketing should exceed $12 billion by 2025.
The digital shopping experience is becoming a rich ecosystem where multiple channels merge.
81% of global consumers agree that a brand’s digital presence is as important as its in-store presence. 83% of global consumers believe that the future of shopping is hybrid.
New virtual locations for art, film and theater
Traditional gaming platforms are turning into spaces for events, socialising and networking. The majority of people surveyed in the global survey by Wunderman Thompson on the metaverse is already interested in digital events: 62 percent of respondents think that the idea of attending a digital concert is appealing.Into the metaverse Especially over the past year, the gaming world has been the setting for popular concerts for a large global audience. A few examples: 12.3 million viewers at Travis Scott’s concert on Fortnite (in the subsequent days 27.7 million of unique viewers watched the show); 33 million viewers for Lil Nas X’s concert on Roblox. Night clubs and virtual venues are also arising where participants are able to move with their avatars and interact with the attendees. The trend is to create virtual events that can incorporate the best of the virtual and physical world.
Alongside the rise of fully virtual venues and spaces, the extended reality (XR) is transforming physical spaces for a new formula of blendedevents,built around simultaneously digital and physical elements.
Also cultural and artistic activites are combining virtual experiences and physical spaces: the use of Unreal Engine enables 3D rendering in any environment, real or imaginary, AR makes it possible to create an extension of reality and blur the boundaries between artworks, theatrical performances and the visitor or audience (Dream). In the future, even commercial spaces, brand hubs and commercial activities could become venues for performances and events.
The world of health and wellness could also have its place in the metaverse, in the application of new technologies aimed at users and patients: 81 percent of global consumers say they connect to relax and more than half say they are physically (55 percent) and mentally (56 percent) healthier thanks to technology.
Video games for supporting cognitive disorders (especially autism and ADHD in children) are on the rise. In June 2020, EndeavorRx the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved Akili Interactive’s game that has become the first prescription-medication video game for the treatment of ADHD in kids. Other games are made to act against insomnia and Alzheimer’s (scientists of the Neuroscape brain research centre are experimenting with VR videogames to stimulate memories in the elderly and other cognitive disorders). Other virtual reality technologies are tested to improve mental health, against eating disorders and obesity, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and to relieve the pain of childbirth. More generally, cognitive contents are treated as chemical realities, according to the principles of neuroscience, so that narration can unleash its healing potential, even reaching the physical aspects.
Borderless social networks and digital relationships
Does a digital key exist to keep human relationships healthy and fertile? 83% of global consumers believe that technology brings people together and helps to deepen relationships. 76% of adults in the UK think that on line gaming is a good way to build relationships and connections, according to a survey by Xbox, dated May 2021 In recent years, games evolved into a complex social experience that promotes kindness among users and encourages the creation of healthy relationships free of toxicity. Interacting with others in a 3D environment would help to develop a new way of social networking. The connection with technology even in terms of relations becomes especially close for some generations.
79% of global consumers of generation Z (16-26) and 80% of millennials (27-41) say their lives and daily activities depend on technology.
The average age drops dramatically not only in the use but also in the development and production of platforms and technologies. An example about Roblox: half of the platform’s players are 13 years old or younger. Ammon Runger, 16, and Stefan Baronio, 23, earned six-figure salaries producing Mad City, the prison escape game that attracts more than 200,000 players a month. It is clear that the younger generation cannot be considered only as a reservoir of users and consumption, but it is important to be aware that very young people are and will be co-creators of technological solutions.