TMCnet Feature
February 24, 2022

Immersive and Compelling - How Entertainment Will Look in the Metaverse

Ever since Facebook announced that it was changing its name to Meta back in October 2021 the concept of the Metaverse has gone mainstream. Mark Zuckerberg (News - Alert) introduced us to the idea in reference to workspace and Virtual Reality meetings through Horizon’s Workrooms, but it is clear that the bigger impact will be on the way we are entertained and consume popular culture. This itself will be radically changed by the expansion of the Metaverse and better access to Metaverse products and events.

In this article we look at the future of entertainment as the Metaverse spreads. But first, let’s remind ourselves what the term actually means.

What Is The Metaverse?

You could describe the Metaverse simply as like a 3d version of the internet – an immersive world into which we can jump to interact with one another, facilitated by the use of a VR headset like Oculus. There you will be able to engage in gaming events, buy goods at online retail stores with virtual or real currency, attend meetings for work or otherwise, or explore worlds created for you by software developers as you do now in games like Fortnite.

In terms of entertainment, the Metaverse may deliver some traditional formats of media like film but just in a virtual setting like a 3-d cinema that you can visit without leaving your home. It may allow you to attend virtual concerts and sporting events with front-of-stage or pitch-side access or jump on a virtual a roller-coaster at theme parks that were never accessible to you before.

Let’s explore some of those ideas in more detail.

Live Concerts

The concept of virtual bands is not a new one. One of British pop’s most creative talents of the last 30 years, Damon Albarn, pioneered the concept back in the late 1990s with artist Jamie Hewlett. Their band, Gorillaz, was made up of four animated characters who would appear live on screen in silhouette form at concerts.

Fast forward 20 years or more and the latest generation of musicians see a way to promote themselves and perform live for their fans via the Metaverse in avatar form. Metaverse gigs are still relatively new, but the roster of artists who have taken to the stage in this way is growing, and includes some big, big names.

Both Ariana Grande and Travis Scott have performed via Fortnite, attracting more than 10 million concert-goes to each individual event. Justin Bieber performed via the virtual concert platform, Wave, in a 3-d environment on which users could send chat messages.

These events have been successful, but this is all still in the very early stages of development and we can expect to see much more evolution from here. Some concert-goes question the idea of an avatar and say they will want to see their favourite artist as they are in the Metaverse rather than as an avatar.

But it’s not just real-life artists who are taking advantage of the chance to perform ‘live’ in the metaverse. In September 2021, a band called Pentakill, made up of characters from the League of Legends game performed in front of a crowd of their fans who cavorted in a virtual mosh-pit.

Elsewhere you can find a virtual ABBA re-union concert experience in London in 2022, Twenty One Pilots performed concerts on Minecraft and developers like Wave and HTC (News - Alert) Vive are continuing to develop platforms that will support live concerts.

Whilst it will never replace the real life experience, these early attempts to harness the possibilities of the Metaverse show how virtual concerts can become another way for fans to interact with their favourite artists and those artists to spread the word about what they are doing – another channel to put alongside music streaming, live gigs, music videos and traditional media.

Theme Parks

There are several ways in which theme park attractions and rides can be experienced in a virtual way, or through the Metaverse.

Already, you can find out what it’s like to travel on some of the world’s scariest roller coasters or most imaginative rides through video’s taken on Go Pro headsets and uploaded to the internet via channels like You Tube and Twitch. You can head there now and ride Jurassic World at Hollywood Universal Studios and Tron at Shanghai Disneyland.

But perhaps the most interesting integration of the Metaverse with theme park entertainment has been put forward by Disney (News - Alert) in their ‘virtual-world simulator’ patent, approved in December 2021.

What does it mean? Well, Disney say that in the future – though not right now – they will personalise your experience at their parks by tracking your movements via your mobile phone and projecting personalised 3-d video onto physical spaces around you.

What makes this interesting is that instead of asking you to put on a headset to experience the Metaverse, Disney are saying that they will bring the Metaverse to the real world.

It is another example of how the ways in which we interact with the Metaverse will be multi-layered and multi-faceted. VR headsets and attending concerts are one thing by Disney will try to personalise experiences and present a world in which both virtual and actual combine.

As CEO Bob Chapek has said, “We’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling, without boundaries in our own Disney Metaverse.”

Casinos and Sports Betting

Finally, let’s take a look at an area of online entertainment that has experienced extraordinary growth in the last two decades and shows no sign of slowing down – online gambling. This is an industry that has always harnessed the latest technologies to drive growth, from mobile games to live streaming of card dealer tables like Blackjack. So, it is no surprise that gambling operators will look to be at the forefront of Metaverse innovation.

Back in 2014, Slots Million attempted to become the first virtual reality casino, accessible via an Occulus headset and featuring a virtual casino lobby, 3-d slots and a pit boss who was available to answer any questions you had about the games. Slots Million was ahead of its time and never really took off. However, it seems that now a new generation of casinos are exploring the opportunities that a virtual casino can provide.

In February 2020, Decentraland launched a virtual browser-based casino that focused on poker and reports over 1,000 concurrent players at its tables. Popular casino, Mr Green, offers Live Beyond Live, a virtual casino experience with a 3 d casino floor and blackjack and roulette tables available through an app on your phone. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency casinos like Bitstarz, offering players the chance to deposit and play with Bitcoin, have been running for more than a decade. And with the growth of 3d video slots, it is only a matter of time before the 100s of online slot sites like these are all available in a Metaverse-format.

But it’s not just for the gimmicks. Gaming in this way has advantages for both players and operators. It can be a more social experience as gamblers can mix with others at the tables and chat to both them and the dealers as they bet. It allows operators to post promotions on virtual spaces including offers like 2 for 1 deposit hours or virtual slots tournaments. At the same time it allows for customers support agents to interact with players via the virtual world which can be more compelling and helpful for the user.

In Conclusion

We are still in the early stages of understanding how the Metaverse and virtual reality will be harnessed by entertainment companies to engage with us and provide more compelling experiences. But you can already see from the work being done by concert platforms, theme parks like Disney, and gambling operators, that the opportunities will be thrilling and will not only improve the standard of entertainment but also build loyalty towards the brands and products we use.

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