Q&A with Gary Knight , WOLF (The World’s Online Festival) CEO.
What is the metaverse?
Imagine experiencing the internet in a virtual world that is a truly immersive experience. That’s the metaverse. It’s a series of interconnected virtual worlds coming together to create ‘spaces’ accessed on conventional devices and/or 3D virtual reality. The metaverse will mirror our ‘real life’ – people will behave there as they do here – work, play, shop, share, trade, create and more.
It’s an exciting next step for our digital lives and one we’ve been exploring for some time. WOLF exists to bring the magic of real-world festivals to the virtual world, uniting people across the globe in discovery, entertainment and belonging.
Within WOLF, users create and share experiences inside a vibrant selection of virtual worlds. WOLF has engaged in pioneering research and development, creating patent-pending virtual stage and venue experiences with which can be accessed through a range of platforms and modalities, ranging from a 2D mobile-optimised UX through to immersive cinematic 3D video. In doing this, WOLF is building the technology foundations needed to realise a core aspect of the metaverse vision.
What are the challenges businesses face with this new virtual world?
One of the obvious initial questions is that of platform – where and how will the metaverse be accessed?
Ultimately, there may be a very small number of metaverse environments where users can go and explore with one identity, taking common owned items from one to the other.
However, for the foreseeable future of the metaverse, I believe we will see many metaverse, user generated spaces that deliver numerous interactive experiences for the user.
Much of the early metaverse experiences have been gaming related and that is likely to continue, however, developments will see the metaverse appeal to wider audiences. People will meet up with friends, colleagues, go to concerts, workout, shop – pretty much everything will be accessible in the metaverse, which is why WOLF’s proposition of a festival platform developed for user generated performance and entertainment, is delivering such a unique offering.
The other consideration for businesses when entering the metaverse is how to monetise the offering. Roblox has done this well introducing its own ‘Robux’ virtual currency for its Roblox metaverse – albeit purchased with real-world money. Similarly, WOLF’s monetisation is bespoke and built around user rewards and gifting to motivate and satisfy our content creators appropriately.
How can they overcome them?
Just like they would in the real world. Identifying a core differentiator is key for the metaverse, just as it is with any business in any sector in real life.
The platform challenge will be overcome by building scaling and flexible infrastructure that allows the user experience to be available seamlessly wherever they choose to use it – for WOLF that means creating an interactive concert for 10,000 users who can take part how they like, whether it’s using a VR headset or their phone.
What is the role of AR and VR in the metaverse?
Whilst the metaverse itself can be accessed via conventional devices, there is no doubt that the VR/AR experience is how the metaverse will be adopted by the wider mass market.
Of course, the adoption of headsets is still relatively low in comparison to mobile adoption, but AR/VR experiences will continue to develop and lead the way in many of the more progressive implementations of the metaverse. And, given that Meta owns Oculus it’s safe to assume there will be one platform with a huge focus on using VR headsets. Additionally, the use of ‘VR cardboard’ products to turn phones into metaverse viewing opportunities gives an easily accessible middle ground to those not investing in hardware like Oculus yet.
The key role for the full AR/VR experiences in the short term will be to create truly innovative user experiences that delight the users, while continuing to explore everything that virtual reality can bring to the virtual worlds.
And, if history has taught us anything, it’s that the universal adoption of a certain technology happens exponentially faster when it becomes more immersive and entertaining.
How does a business ensure customer experience in the metaverse?
The metaverse is all about user experience so it must be the focus for businesses entering that world. This is achieved by listening to users and acting on what they want. Data is the best commodity an organisation has, both in the real world and the virtual one, and it can elevate companies to the next level.
WOLF was born from user data. We intellectually and effectively used insight from our users to transcend our business growth. We identified what our users wanted and evolved the platform from the world’s first messaging app to go live on the app store, to an online entertainment experience.
We continue to listen, and we grow our offering by applying rigorous R&D and testing processes. This approach is as viable in the metaverse as it is in the traditional world. There is obviously some added complexity to VR based environments, and already there are numerous specialist user experience agencies beginning to develop programmes to assist in the quality of user journeys so anything is and will be possible.
A great read thanks Gary
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