FEED Autumn 2023 Web

Alex Wills Disguise Chief experience officer

How do you define the metaverse? For me, the metaverse is the next evolution of the internet that also encompasses spatial computing. It’s still powered through and on the internet but it’s more immersive, three-dimensional and interactive. And you’re seeing that behaviour through the games the younger generations are playing, such as Minecraft, Fortnite and Roblox. The latest Apple Vision Pro headset, on the other hand, offers a compelling way to access what the next iteration of the internet, or the metaverse, could be. Although it didn’t show any virtual worlds and it’s more of an AR possibility, they have created a technically advanced platform that’s probably five years ahead of its time – hence why it’s so expensive. This will enable people to experience some of these prototypical metaverse experiences today or next year, once further development takes place. The term metaverse, much like cyberspace, will eventually fade away. Many companies are not even using it in its full sense. The different strategies and worldviews of the tech companies working on it like Meta, Apple and even Disguise will define what it will be one day. What is your top example of a metaverse landscape or use case? Epic has just announced you can now run Fortnite in Unreal Engine 5, which will enable major changes. So far, Fortnite has been an excellent way for big concerts to attract a virtual audience that far extends beyond the audience you will get at a physical concert. The one drawback was that you were

limited to the Fortnite world, which has a set style and look. For brands, this often held them back. Now, the Unreal Editor can be used to create worlds and experiences. Nike is creating unique Air Max experiences in Fortnite called Airphoria. This is a branded world you can walk around in that has giant shoes everywhere. It hints at explorable created spaces that will allow brands to build unique audience experiences. Airphoria connects the physical and the virtual, too – allowing you to buy shoes in the real world. With the metaverse, it’s all about building a community. You can’t fake that, which is what many tried to do when it first became popular. Those who are consistent and committed to developing natural communities will be the ones who thrive best in the metaverse. What effect can we see the metaverse having on business and media at present? In the media and entertainment space, audiences are demanding rich, amazing experiences. Disguise and our community of partners are at the forefront when it comes to helping brands, artists and more deliver live experiences and reach growing audiences on metaverse platforms like Fortnite and Roblox. Instead of a crowd of thousands at a stadium, artists can perform for an audience of millions within the metaverse. Web 3.0 platforms will change experiences and entertainment in the same way the Web 2.0 or mobile revolution changed how we consume media – platforms such as TikTok, YouTube and Instagram

are now an integral part of the human experience. Just as it would be crazy to ignore the potential of those platforms, so too is it crazy to ignore the opportunity in metaverse platforms now. What impact will the metaverse have on future generations? When thinking about the impact of the metaverse, I always think back to the 1999 clip of Jeremy Paxman and David Bowie talking about the future of the internet. Bowie said there would be an unimaginable impact. Even then, he understood how seismic the shift would be for both good and bad. The metaverse could be just as revolutionary when incorporating such elements as spatial computing. But it will take decades to play out, so right now, we are all just speculating. What we do know is the virtual world is going to be, in many ways, just as important as the physical world. For younger generations, being immersed in a digital world is more familiar for them and they will expect it. Technology right now is all about bridging that gap. How can M&E businesses use the metaverse to boost success? Businesses have been disrupted by tech for 20 years – be it newspapers, video on demand, mobile etc. Every one of these technologies changes how audiences experience media and entertainment. Brands need to follow the audience and behaviours and do what makes sense for their business. It’s about getting the strategy right. When the internet emerged and became popular, many businesses that failed to invest in it as a new platform were left behind. With a metaverse strategy that fits with the right audience, and with the creative and technology partners that have the right experience and skill, M&E businesses have the opportunity to thrive in this next digital revolution.



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