MADRID – The metaverse is hot. Economic prospects are suggesting huge commercial potential for this new virtual space. Consequently, more and more (Spanish) companies want to be part of this immersive metaverse.
Pretty much anything we can do in the real world can somehow be transferred to the metaverse as well. Provided that this virtual universe fulfills all the potential attributed to it. Every day new companies and institutions make their appearance in this new virtual world. However, at the same time, this world is becoming increasingly ‘real’.
Among the several reports that see great economic prospects for this technology is that of Bloomberg Intelligence. It calculates a value of $800,000 million for the metaverse market for 2024. Meanwhile, Wildbytes estimates that 70% of the large companies will be on this technology platform in five years.
‘Business to Avatar’
Through their avatars, companies reach a virtual audience with their products and services. María Albalá, director of the Innovation Hub at ESIC’s Institute of Digital Economy (ICEMD) says in Computerworld: “Companies can sell products that not the users themselves, but their avatars will use. In theory, there is also the avatar that buys products”. This is called ‘Business to Avatar’, like ‘business to consumer’, but in the metaverse.
Different ways to participate in the metaverse
According to Albalá, companies can participate in the metaverse in several ways. Part of the market will take on the technological development of platforms or worlds. Other companies see the metaverse primarily as a new communication channel to reach young people in particular.
Albalá continues: “And then there are the companies that try to create companies within the metaverse. That is more complicated because you can set up companies in very different ways”. On the one hand, some people see these platforms as forms of investment, to buy and sell virtual spaces. On the other hand, some create products, services, or experiences that can be purchased within the metaverse.
So far mainly replicas of real world
According to the director of the ICEMD Innovation Hub, so far in the metaverse, we have mainly seen replicas of what companies do in real life. Yet in the metaverse, the possibilities are great for making things that we couldn’t even imagine could be made.
Fashion, at the forefront of the metaverse
Zara, the Spanish fashion brand of the Inditex group has already ventured into the metaverse with the launch of two clothing collections. The pieces of clothing that make up both collections can be purchased virtually. These can be to dress up the avatars, as well as physically.
Gucci, the Italian fashion company, has also been quite active in the metaverse. Since last year they have created a virtual recreation area, the Gucci Garden. Here, users can move through spaces created by other players to buy clothes or view an exhibit. Earlier this year, Gucci purchased virtual land on the metaverse platform The Sandbox. This is where it will market clothing and accessories in NFT format. This allows users to dress up their avatars.
Other fashion brands that have launched their initiatives in the metaverse include Luis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Balenciaga, selling clothing collections in Fortnite; Vans and its ‘Vans World’ at Roblox, a skate park where players can practice tricks, customize their shoes and build their boards; H&M and its virtual store in Ceek; Ralph Lauren, also with virtual stores on Roblox and Zepeto; among other things.
The food sector
The food and beverage industry is difficult to transfer to the virtual world. As Veronica Sica, marketing manager of Heineken Spain, says, “pixels and bytes cannot be tasted for the time being”. Nevertheless, the Dutch company is launching the first virtual beer, ‘Heineken Silver’. Brewed at the brewery they have in the Metaverse. You drink a virtual beer there and can participate in activities such as can laboratory, blind tastings, or virtual toasts. Heineken Silver is now also available in the real world.
Carrefour, the multinational company of French origin began its immersion in the metaverse with a new proposal, ‘The Healthy Map’. This video game within the Fortnite platform encourages users to improve their health by eating fruits, vegetables, or fish. In this way, food that is healthy for the consumer and for the environment is promoted.
Fast food brands such as Chipotle, Burger King, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell have entered the metaverse by releasing their collections of NFTs. Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and Bacardi are other companies that have done the same.
Getting students’ attention has always been a difficult task, especially in the digital age. To meet this challenge, Juan Manuel Corpa, professor at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the CEU Cardenal Herrera University in Valencia, came up with a way to do it. He brought together his two passions of video games and teaching. Then he began to replicate his faculty’s facilities in Minecraft as an exercise for his students. The initiative was successful and the project already covers the entire Alfara del Patriarca campus.
The replica of the Castellón campus has also started and in the coming months the Elche, Moncloa, Montepríncipe, and Barcelona campuses will be integrated. “The aim is to extend the project to all universities and education centres of the CEU Group in Spain,” says Corpa.
In the CEU Metaverse, students can interact with other students, participate in educational activities, and know in detail about the facilities and administrative procedures (via virtual student desks).
Stanford University in California and the 10 institutions that make up the ‘Metaversity’ are others that replicate their campuses in this digital universe, while other centres, such as the Metaverse University in Barcelona, are completely born into it.
IomobIomob is a transportation company that develops platforms for other companies that need to unite different types of mobility. For example, an application for Renfe that contains not only train routes, but also taxis, electric scooters, or bicycles to offer a door-to-door service. Iomob has partnered with the Next Earth platform, a sustainability-focused metaverse, to allow users to plan real-world trips, track carbon emissions, and book “carbon positive” transportation.
BMW, the well-known German car brand created a replica of its car factory in Resenburg to create its metaverse. This will allow the car company to virtually test different options and alternatives – experimenting with new workflows, for example – which, if successful, will be applied to the real factory.
Hyundai will do the same on the Unity platform. Users can see new car models, play games, and interact with each other. The Japanese Nissan and Toyota will also enter the metaverse, the first with an exhibition gallery of their cars and the second with a virtual space dedicated to their employees.
The era of digital entertainment
Spotify, the music streaming platform launched its ‘Spotify Island’ on Roblox. In this space, users can interact with their favuorite artists, create and share new sounds with their friends, explore different worlds, and access exclusive merchandising.
Virtual parties in Ibiza in the metaverse
The nightlife was one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic, but Ibiza’s Amnesia club came up with a way to keep up: with virtual parties. Amnesia Ibiza offers three different spaces where users can dance, listen to music, watch live streaming sessions, visit a museum about the island’s history, attend concerts and purchase merchandising in the form of NFTs.
Also, in the music world, it is becoming more and more common for fashionable artists to use virtual spaces as stages for their concerts. An emblematic example is that of rapper Travis Scott. He managed to amass more than 27 million viewers in Fortnite. Scott isn’t alone: Foo Fighters, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Lil Nas X, Deadmau5, David Guetta, and Marshmello are some of the artists who have already performed in the metaverse.
Disney has also announced that it wants to create its virtual universe for various licenses such as Marvel or Starwars.
Other companies and sectors participating in the metaverse
The sports industry is one that also permeates a lot in the metaverse in a major way. The sportswear brands Nike and Adidas created their virtual universes -‘ Nikeland’ and ‘AdiVerse’-, in which they offer their shoes and accessories to dress the avatars.
Cycling also has its space with the simulations that Zwift offers its customers, in addition to its exercise bikes. In Spain, LaLiga and the Rafa Nadal Academy along with Telefónica also launched spaces in the metaverse.
Real estate agents
Some brokers will not miss the opportunity either. Metaverse Property will offer land in Decentraland, The Sandbox, Somnium, Upland, and Cryptovoxels. Others like Spain’s Metrovacesa and Datacasas Proptech will ally to sell their real properties in these virtual spaces.
The public administration
In Spain, the first government was that of Catalonia, which created the ‘CatVers’, its metaverse to promote the Catalan culture and language. Other cities followed, such as Navarra, Zaragoza, and Benidorm, among others, to better reach citizens and promote themselves as tourist destinations.
Given the explosive proliferation of these types of initiatives by public authorities, it remains to be seen how judicial and regulatory issues should be resolved. The collection and use of personal data also pose a challenge.