Since Mark Zuckerberg first mentioned it, everyone has kept talking about the metaverse as a perfect virtual place where anyone can socialize, play, relax, and enjoy an unencumbered life.
At first reference, the metaverse may sound like just another online hobby. But upon closer inspection, there are several opportunities for businesses to get involved, especially while the metaverse is still in its infancy.
In fact, there are many opportunities for both internal and external use. Before we get into that, let’s start with some 101 basics: the definition.
What is a metaverse?
A metaverse is a form of digital reality designed using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies. Additional functionality may vary widely, from 3D modeling for designers to cryptocurrency exchanges for miners or gamers. The point of any metaverse is to provide an engaging user experience in a fictional but sufficiently realistic environment.
Still sound like something that isn’t exactly business-oriented? Well, how about a virtual team-building event inside an actual metaverse?
Impact of metaverse on meetings and corporate events
When nearly 100% of all business communications are happening via Zoom, Google Meets, and other alternatives, informal communications with teams are going virtual too. Yet holding a corporate party in Zoom would probably sound dreadful for most of your colleagues, primarily because Zoom fatigue is real.
This is the major reason why a growing number of companies are choosing metaverses as a virtual party space for their internal events. Metaverses — yes, in the plural, because Facebook/Meta is no longer the only option.
Unlike Zoom or Skype, the metaverse offers unlimited space for ideas and creativity. For example, when holding a video chat in Zoom, the number of participants and screens is limited. With a metaverse, there is no hard limit on the number of people who can take part in the online event.
The metaverse can host events of any size, from small team building activities to large corporate anniversaries. It aims to remove the remoteness of home-based work. This can help boost employee engagement and company culture in a way that Zoom or Skype meetings never could.
Thanks to gamification elements, the metaverse offers unlimited ways to engage attendees and break the ice of virtual events. The metaverse also offers nearly unlimited space for creativity and self-expression. It’s a unique mix of technology and socializing.
The metaverse helps to bridge the gap between real and virtual events. Attendees can enjoy a high-quality and similarly engaging experience. Moreover, everyone can be in the front row of the event without queuing and pushing.
Examples of metaverses
Below is an outline of the popular metaverses that have been in the news lately. Considering the key pros and cons we’ve highlighted, you can decide for yourself which of the metaverses is the best fit for your company.
Released in December 2021
Source: The Verge
Facebook’s metaverse is widely known as Horizon Worlds or simply Horizon. Its key focus is on organizing virtual business meetings. Every team member is represented by an individually designed 3D avatar that enters the room with a computer and a keyboard to sit in on a meeting — just like during the good old offline days, only now it’s virtual.
You can customize your virtual meeting room to your needs. There are layouts for different occasions, and the meeting room can be scaled up or down depending on the size of your team.
Before you sign up for Meta’s metaverse, you need to understand that Horizon Worlds is alpha software that requires the newest hardware. Otherwise, you might not even be able to enter it.
Pros and cons of Horizon World
- Overall experience is good; if you’re considering inviting future business partners to an online event, Horizon World would be a good fit
- Designing avatars is fun – so fun that many people spend too much time on this activity alone
- Cost: Meta is actively promoting its Oculus Quest 2 as the most recommended gear for virtual activities. The cost of one set is around $350. Buying multiple sets for a bit team could be costly
- Basic gaming skills are needed to enter this metaverse. Non-gamers may feel lost
Released in April 2020
Party.Space’s metaverse is browser-based and highly customizable. One of the key features is its simultaneous availability of multiple chatrooms; for example, there could be a larger room for the streaming event plus several more private rooms. It’s popular primarily among larger enterprises, IT and gaming in particular, and some other fandom communities.
The platform can be used for various events from team building activities and happy hours to celebrating a company’s anniversary or fundraising events. Unlike any other metaverse, Party.Space doesn’t require additional devices to use the platform to the fullest, so you can easily refresh and reset your employees. Users just need a device connected to the internet.
Party.Space’s team is actively working on developing new spaces and providing quality services to customers. According to G2, they are high performers in several categories: High Performer Spring 2022, High Performer Mid-Market, and High Performer Small Business.
Pros and cons of Party.Space
- Customizable: easy and not time-consuming
- Live-streaming can be organized quickly, and it’s easy to share screens or show presentations during the event
- Option to have multiple hosts for the same event
- Spatial audio allows easy networking with your colleagues. You can use the front-facing camera to show your face or customize your personal avatar
- A relatively new computer and updated browsers, as well as a sufficiently powerful internet connection, is required
Released in November 2021
Source: Microsoft Mesh
With Minecraft and Activision Blizzard in its portfolio, Microsoft is clearly very ambitious about its near-future metaverse plans. For now, there is Mesh — Microsoft’s very own metaverse designed for holographic collaboration inside your team. It can be accessed from any device via mixed reality apps.
Mesh allows for in-depth immersion into the virtual world. Holoportation can mimic the real presence. It allows for projecting yourself as a photo-realistic self to interact as if you are present there in person. Thanks to modern technologies, users can engage with eye contact, gestures, and facial expressions.
Pros and cons of Mesh
- You can use your mobile device if you don’t have a VR headset
- Intuitive interface with a near-zero learning curve
- Mesh is built strictly around Microsoft Teams, so if you don’t already have this platform, it might not be a good idea to get it just for the sake of the metaverse
- To get the best of the Mesh Metaverse, you need to use extra hardware like HoloLens2, VR headsets, etc.
Released in February 2020
As one of the very first players in this market, Decentraland was launched back in 2017. The core functionality of this metaverse is to buy land plots using non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrency, and then you build something, your office, for example, on them. Decentraland is a virtual world built on Ethereum. It means that there is no central entity that owns the platform. Decentraland is run by its users. Its content is hosted on various computers all over the world, which makes it a decentralized platform.
There are two types of tokens available in Decentralend. LAND is an NFT that defines the ownership of land parcels representing digital real estate. MANA is a cryptocurrency that can be used to buy LAND along with other virtual services and goods.
But in terms of a virtual event platform, Decentraland is still under development. As the Decentraland metaverse grows further, it will cover far more use cases.
Today, the popularity of Decentraland has grown: JP Morgan has its own official Onyx lounge hosted in the Metajuku mall (a virtual version of Tokyo’s shopping district), while the government of Barbados has the world’s first virtual diplomatic embassy in Decentraland.
Pros and cons of Decentraland
- It’s very engaging, you can spend hours exploring this metaverse
- Peer-to-peer communication options are still somewhat limited
- There are limits to accessible activities if you don’t have a crypto wallet
Released in May 2020
Gather is often described as a fun version of Zoom. In a nutshell, it is a video chat with various simple games under the hood. The platform allows you to do more than just talk. There are whiteboards, TVs, and games that can spice up your team event.
Gather can fit many events, from office work to hosting a rooftop party. You can customize your space to your needs. The platform can be also used for various workshops. Virtual learning doesn’t have to be boring when there is Gather.
Pros and cons of Gather
- Easy access mode – people who used to play computer games back in the ’90s will experience pleasant nostalgia
- Great for short-term team-building activities
- In-game communication is somewhat limited
- More tech-savvy teammates may get bored quickly
Released in 2006
Roblox got its popularity as a gaming platform for children and teenagers. The first metaverse event on Roblox was organized in spring 2021. Today it is increasingly used for team hangouts.
Roblox has no rivals when it comes to playing and building games in a virtual sandbox. You can create your custom avatar, and design your own home and neighborhood for others to visit. One major benefit of Roblox is the ability to chat with people face-to-face.
If you’re going to host a game night, Roblox is right up your alley. There are hundreds of games, from survival games to adventure games. You can even create a corporate game for your employees to have fun together. There are thousands of scripts that allow anyone, even if they have no programming skills, to create their own unique games.
Pros and cons of Roblox
- Huge variety of content and millions of games
- Event-hosting, screen-sharing, and live-streaming capabilities are somewhat limited
Be well-versed on the metaverse
This list of metaverse platforms isn’t extensive as the market is expanding. Competition in this sector is growing so rapidly that it’s easy to get lost. If you’re looking to find the best-fit platform for your company’s event, you can start by answering these three questions:
- Who is your audience? More specifically — how many people are coming? Are they all equally tech-savvy? Are they into gaming or more into chats?
- What is the format of your future event? Do you plan to “just hang out together” in a virtual lounge? Do you expect any brainstorming outcomes? Does the event include speeches and presentations? Is it strictly in-house, or are you expecting external guests?
- Will you be able to do a demo before the actual event? Imagine seeing your virtual event from the inside; it could be something totally different from what is expected. Doing a demo or a pilot test is strongly recommended.
Metaverses can easily accommodate guests from all over the world and present the next generation of virtual meetings and events. Choosing the right platform depends on the type of event you’re going to host, the number of users, the preferable platforms, etc. Virtual platforms offer many benefits to companies, but these benefits can be realized most when coupled with the right tech partner that will create the right experience and environment you need.
You’ve decided on a metaverse platform, but now what? Learn more about how to encourage virtual event engagement among attendees and create the best event yet.