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Technology
A whole new world

While it’s too early to predict how the Metaverse will develop, one way or another, it’s coming. Lesley Morisetti takes a look at the challenges and opportunities for visitor attractions


In the three weeks between late October and early November 2021, Google searches for the term ‘Metaverse’ grew by nearly 1,500 per cent. Facebook had re-branded as Meta and a term which had previously connected mainly with online gamers hit the mainstream.

Jump forward four months and Citi Global Perspectives and Solution’s (Citi GPS) report, Metaverse and Money, estimated that the Metaverse could be worth as much as US$13 trillion by 2030.

So how is this relevant to location-based experiences (LBE) and should the industry view the Metaverse as a threat, an opportunity or just not relevant to us today? David Andrade, of Theory Studios, Martin Howe of Dapper Labs, Louis Alfieri of Raven Sun Creative, and I were given the opportunity to progress the discussion by running a session at TEA’s recent SATE Europe conference at Liseberg, in Sweden.

So, what is the metaverse?
Our first aim was to provide a better understanding of what the Metaverse is. Google search the term Metaverse and multiple definitions are listed. Matthew Ball, who describes himself as an entrepreneur, investor, strategist, theorist, writer and Metaverse expert, uses the following definition: “A persistent and interconnected network of 3D virtual worlds that will eventually serve as the gateway to most online experiences, and also underpin much of the physical world.”

I like this definition because it talks about 3D virtual worlds being interconnected (allowing users to move easily between them) and it also talks about the blending of digital and physical experiences, with the Metaverse becoming not an alternative to real life, but part of our future way of engaging with each other.

But how does that differ from the internet of today? Nick Clegg, VP Global Affairs and Communications for Meta Platforms, Inc, says: “The Metaverse is coming, one way or another. The future of the internet will be more human than the way we experience it today – more physical, interactive and speech based than flat screens filled with text and images.”

Most people agree that it’s much too early to predict exactly how the Metaverse will manifest and how it will be used. At the end of the 20th century, in the early days of the internet, a lot of money was invested in online businesses which quickly went bust. Most were trying to simply replicate existing business models from the physical world. It took time to truly understand the new opportunities that the internet could support and enable, and time for consumer behaviour to adapt. The same is likely to be the case for the Metaverse. As David Andrade told us during the SATE session, the Metaverse is currently at the same stage as the internet was in the late 1990s. Similarly, Nick Clegg estimates 10 to 15 years or longer for major change.

I introduced our SATE session from the perspective of a non-technical person. My work, looking at the market demand and economic viability of attraction development, considers opportunities from the perspective of brands/developers (supply) and consumers (demand). Within this context, I have set out my attempt at a ‘Metaverse 101’, based on my research so far and attempting to identify which are the most crucial factors that will drive the growth expectations of Citi GPS versus the factors which are enablers rather than drivers. I have also tried to identify some of the challenges which are likely to be faced in achieving growth.

Metaverse 101 (early days!)
Drivers of Growth:

• Creative content – fundamental to success is creating environments and experiences that consumers will want to spend time within and, crucially, enabling them to co-create and drive their own interactions within the environments.

• Solving the access barriers – VR glasses are simply one form of ‘hardware’ which can be used to access the Metaverse. Citi GPS and many others consider that access needs to be via more commonplace hardware for the highest growth expectations to be achieved, with the ubiquitous mobile phone key to achieving this.

• Decentralised finance (DeFi) – financial transactions in the modern world are mainly made via ‘middlemen’ such as banks or credit card companies. Transactions in the Metaverse cut out this middleman, enabling trading to be a direct transfer between the buyer and the seller. This shift is seen as key to allowing the Metaverse to have an effective economy.

• Human behaviour change – as with the early days of the internet, changes in human behaviour will need to evolve alongside the Metaverse.

Enablers of Growth:

• Lower latency, open versus closed technologies and other technical and infrastructure improvements – Not my area but ‘ping time’ is apparently key and not fast enough at the moment!

• Blockchain currencies and NFT collectibles – these are the tools which allow DeFi to take place

• Collaboration to enable interconnectivity – the ability to move seamlessly from one 3D world to another requires the Metaverse community to work together and to design on a compatible basis.

Challenges:

• Big tech’s desire to dominate – when we buy a new phone we have to decide between Apple or Android and switching between the two systems can be challenging. An interconnected future is going to require the large tech companies to work much more collaboratively, otherwise the future will be fragmented and siloed.

• Achieving realistic graphics – many of the gaming successes so far are cartoon based. Think of the success of Pokémon for example. Creating graphics which are more representative of the physical world is currently more challenging. Compare this to our industry’s immersive environments such as Pandora, the World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the Metaverse is not yet there.

• Who regulates? – There is already much discussion about how the internet is regulated and this will be equally important with the Metaverse. Who is responsible for content moderation, free speech, privacy?

• Safe-guarding – This was in the news earlier this year with disturbing stories of children’s avatars being abused by rogue participants. But it’s not just users that need protecting. How do brands/IPs protect their values and prevent fake versions appearing in the Metaverse? And the pitfalls of decentralised finance have also been much in the news, including the recent hacking of BPYC’s official Instagram account which led to NFT collectibles worth US$ millions being stolen. Who protects you when there is no middleman involved?

Where are we now?
So as an industry, where are we currently? While the majority of LBE operators are currently preoccupied with more immediate challenges (recovery from the pandemic, war in Ukraine and impacts of both on the global economy), some operators are starting to dip their toes into the Metaverse. Not surprisingly, this is being led by major content owners, for whom LBEs are just part of their business model and who have deep enough pockets to fund R&D.

In April Disney launched Galactic Star Cruiser, an immersive two-night stay costing US$6,000 for a family of four, which is described as taking immersion to a new level. The decisions each guest makes impacts their pathway through the experience and their outcome, and the experience is created using a mixture of physical and digital techniques. Is this the Metaverse? I am not sure, but maybe a step towards it?

Smaller visitor attractions, or those with more modest budgets, are testing the water through partnerships with organisations which can support them on technology and implementation. The British Museum, alongside other art galleries and museums, is working the LaCollection platform, selling 200 Hokusai NFT artworks, to coincide with their exhibition Hokusai, The Great Picture Book of Everything.

And, the Smithsonian recently ran a temporary Moonwalk Experience using VR glasses at their Arts + Industries Building FUTURES exhibition. Developed with support from Meta, the experience is described as letting visitors walk in the Apollo astronaut’s shoes.

Conversely, brands created in the Metaverse are starting to test their popularity in the physical world, for example, BAYC recently launched a branded pop-up burger restaurant in Los Angeles, which has been so well received that they are thinking of making it permanent.

Our session at SATE certainly sparked debate, including, for some, the desire for physical experiences to offer device-free family time as an antidote to the online world that many children increasingly live within. Whatever your stance, the Metaverse is evolving and I for one plan to continue to monitor it to identify opportunities for the LBE industry, and experiences in general.

Photo: Credit Andrea Horth

Lesley Morisetti

Meta partnered with the Smithsonian to create a VR moonwalk experience Credit: Photo: Courtesy Meta
Lotte World launched a virtual replica on Naver’s Zepeto metaverse Credit: Photo: LOTTE WORLD
Credit: Photo: LOTTE WORLD
Credit: Photo: LOTTE WORLD
Credit: Photo: LOTTE WORLD
Credit: Image: THE DECENTRALAND FOUNDATION
Decentraland is a metaverse world built and owned by its users Credit: Image: The Decentraland
Disney’s patent for a ‘virtual world simulator’ was approved in December Credit: Photo: Disney
COMPANY PROFILES
Polin Waterparks

Polin was founded in Istanbul in 1976. Polin has since grown into a leading company in the waterpa [more...]
ProSlide Technology, Inc.

A former national ski team racer, ProSlide® CEO Rick Hunter’s goal has been to integrate the smoot [more...]
IAAPA EMEA

IAAPA Expo Europe was established in 2006 and has grown to the largest international conference and [more...]
Triotech

Triotech was established in 1999. The company is based in Montreal, Canada and has additional offi [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Attractions industry to reunite this September at IAAPA Expo Europe in London
For the first time in more than a decade, industry leaders from across the global attractions industry will once again gather in London as part of the annual IAAPA Expo Europe, the sector’s premier international event. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Proslide Tech Inc - ProSlide's all-in-one waterplay entertainment center
RideHOUSE is an iconic waterplay complex purposefully designed for young kids and families to enjoy. Find out more...
More videos:
Red Raion TV - Testimonial: Leolandia – Red Raion
Red Raion TV - Opening Event: FICO Eataly World – Red Raion
Red Raion Showreel 2021 – Red Raion
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

27-29 Sep 2022

International Congress on Thermal Tourism

Ourense, Ourense, Spain
13 Oct 2022

VAC 2022

The ICC Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
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©Cybertrek 2022
Jobs    News   Products   Magazine
Technology
A whole new world

While it’s too early to predict how the Metaverse will develop, one way or another, it’s coming. Lesley Morisetti takes a look at the challenges and opportunities for visitor attractions


In the three weeks between late October and early November 2021, Google searches for the term ‘Metaverse’ grew by nearly 1,500 per cent. Facebook had re-branded as Meta and a term which had previously connected mainly with online gamers hit the mainstream.

Jump forward four months and Citi Global Perspectives and Solution’s (Citi GPS) report, Metaverse and Money, estimated that the Metaverse could be worth as much as US$13 trillion by 2030.

So how is this relevant to location-based experiences (LBE) and should the industry view the Metaverse as a threat, an opportunity or just not relevant to us today? David Andrade, of Theory Studios, Martin Howe of Dapper Labs, Louis Alfieri of Raven Sun Creative, and I were given the opportunity to progress the discussion by running a session at TEA’s recent SATE Europe conference at Liseberg, in Sweden.

So, what is the metaverse?
Our first aim was to provide a better understanding of what the Metaverse is. Google search the term Metaverse and multiple definitions are listed. Matthew Ball, who describes himself as an entrepreneur, investor, strategist, theorist, writer and Metaverse expert, uses the following definition: “A persistent and interconnected network of 3D virtual worlds that will eventually serve as the gateway to most online experiences, and also underpin much of the physical world.”

I like this definition because it talks about 3D virtual worlds being interconnected (allowing users to move easily between them) and it also talks about the blending of digital and physical experiences, with the Metaverse becoming not an alternative to real life, but part of our future way of engaging with each other.

But how does that differ from the internet of today? Nick Clegg, VP Global Affairs and Communications for Meta Platforms, Inc, says: “The Metaverse is coming, one way or another. The future of the internet will be more human than the way we experience it today – more physical, interactive and speech based than flat screens filled with text and images.”

Most people agree that it’s much too early to predict exactly how the Metaverse will manifest and how it will be used. At the end of the 20th century, in the early days of the internet, a lot of money was invested in online businesses which quickly went bust. Most were trying to simply replicate existing business models from the physical world. It took time to truly understand the new opportunities that the internet could support and enable, and time for consumer behaviour to adapt. The same is likely to be the case for the Metaverse. As David Andrade told us during the SATE session, the Metaverse is currently at the same stage as the internet was in the late 1990s. Similarly, Nick Clegg estimates 10 to 15 years or longer for major change.

I introduced our SATE session from the perspective of a non-technical person. My work, looking at the market demand and economic viability of attraction development, considers opportunities from the perspective of brands/developers (supply) and consumers (demand). Within this context, I have set out my attempt at a ‘Metaverse 101’, based on my research so far and attempting to identify which are the most crucial factors that will drive the growth expectations of Citi GPS versus the factors which are enablers rather than drivers. I have also tried to identify some of the challenges which are likely to be faced in achieving growth.

Metaverse 101 (early days!)
Drivers of Growth:

• Creative content – fundamental to success is creating environments and experiences that consumers will want to spend time within and, crucially, enabling them to co-create and drive their own interactions within the environments.

• Solving the access barriers – VR glasses are simply one form of ‘hardware’ which can be used to access the Metaverse. Citi GPS and many others consider that access needs to be via more commonplace hardware for the highest growth expectations to be achieved, with the ubiquitous mobile phone key to achieving this.

• Decentralised finance (DeFi) – financial transactions in the modern world are mainly made via ‘middlemen’ such as banks or credit card companies. Transactions in the Metaverse cut out this middleman, enabling trading to be a direct transfer between the buyer and the seller. This shift is seen as key to allowing the Metaverse to have an effective economy.

• Human behaviour change – as with the early days of the internet, changes in human behaviour will need to evolve alongside the Metaverse.

Enablers of Growth:

• Lower latency, open versus closed technologies and other technical and infrastructure improvements – Not my area but ‘ping time’ is apparently key and not fast enough at the moment!

• Blockchain currencies and NFT collectibles – these are the tools which allow DeFi to take place

• Collaboration to enable interconnectivity – the ability to move seamlessly from one 3D world to another requires the Metaverse community to work together and to design on a compatible basis.

Challenges:

• Big tech’s desire to dominate – when we buy a new phone we have to decide between Apple or Android and switching between the two systems can be challenging. An interconnected future is going to require the large tech companies to work much more collaboratively, otherwise the future will be fragmented and siloed.

• Achieving realistic graphics – many of the gaming successes so far are cartoon based. Think of the success of Pokémon for example. Creating graphics which are more representative of the physical world is currently more challenging. Compare this to our industry’s immersive environments such as Pandora, the World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the Metaverse is not yet there.

• Who regulates? – There is already much discussion about how the internet is regulated and this will be equally important with the Metaverse. Who is responsible for content moderation, free speech, privacy?

• Safe-guarding – This was in the news earlier this year with disturbing stories of children’s avatars being abused by rogue participants. But it’s not just users that need protecting. How do brands/IPs protect their values and prevent fake versions appearing in the Metaverse? And the pitfalls of decentralised finance have also been much in the news, including the recent hacking of BPYC’s official Instagram account which led to NFT collectibles worth US$ millions being stolen. Who protects you when there is no middleman involved?

Where are we now?
So as an industry, where are we currently? While the majority of LBE operators are currently preoccupied with more immediate challenges (recovery from the pandemic, war in Ukraine and impacts of both on the global economy), some operators are starting to dip their toes into the Metaverse. Not surprisingly, this is being led by major content owners, for whom LBEs are just part of their business model and who have deep enough pockets to fund R&D.

In April Disney launched Galactic Star Cruiser, an immersive two-night stay costing US$6,000 for a family of four, which is described as taking immersion to a new level. The decisions each guest makes impacts their pathway through the experience and their outcome, and the experience is created using a mixture of physical and digital techniques. Is this the Metaverse? I am not sure, but maybe a step towards it?

Smaller visitor attractions, or those with more modest budgets, are testing the water through partnerships with organisations which can support them on technology and implementation. The British Museum, alongside other art galleries and museums, is working the LaCollection platform, selling 200 Hokusai NFT artworks, to coincide with their exhibition Hokusai, The Great Picture Book of Everything.

And, the Smithsonian recently ran a temporary Moonwalk Experience using VR glasses at their Arts + Industries Building FUTURES exhibition. Developed with support from Meta, the experience is described as letting visitors walk in the Apollo astronaut’s shoes.

Conversely, brands created in the Metaverse are starting to test their popularity in the physical world, for example, BAYC recently launched a branded pop-up burger restaurant in Los Angeles, which has been so well received that they are thinking of making it permanent.

Our session at SATE certainly sparked debate, including, for some, the desire for physical experiences to offer device-free family time as an antidote to the online world that many children increasingly live within. Whatever your stance, the Metaverse is evolving and I for one plan to continue to monitor it to identify opportunities for the LBE industry, and experiences in general.

Photo: Credit Andrea Horth

Lesley Morisetti

Meta partnered with the Smithsonian to create a VR moonwalk experience Credit: Photo: Courtesy Meta
Lotte World launched a virtual replica on Naver’s Zepeto metaverse Credit: Photo: LOTTE WORLD
Credit: Photo: LOTTE WORLD
Credit: Photo: LOTTE WORLD
Credit: Photo: LOTTE WORLD
Credit: Image: THE DECENTRALAND FOUNDATION
Decentraland is a metaverse world built and owned by its users Credit: Image: The Decentraland
Disney’s patent for a ‘virtual world simulator’ was approved in December Credit: Photo: Disney
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COMPANY PROFILES
Polin Waterparks

Polin was founded in Istanbul in 1976. Polin has since grown into a leading company in the waterpa [more...]
ProSlide Technology, Inc.

A former national ski team racer, ProSlide® CEO Rick Hunter’s goal has been to integrate the smoot [more...]
IAAPA EMEA

IAAPA Expo Europe was established in 2006 and has grown to the largest international conference and [more...]
Triotech

Triotech was established in 1999. The company is based in Montreal, Canada and has additional offi [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Attractions industry to reunite this September at IAAPA Expo Europe in London
For the first time in more than a decade, industry leaders from across the global attractions industry will once again gather in London as part of the annual IAAPA Expo Europe, the sector’s premier international event. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Proslide Tech Inc - ProSlide's all-in-one waterplay entertainment center
RideHOUSE is an iconic waterplay complex purposefully designed for young kids and families to enjoy. Find out more...
More videos:
Red Raion TV - Testimonial: Leolandia – Red Raion
Red Raion TV - Opening Event: FICO Eataly World – Red Raion
Red Raion Showreel 2021 – Red Raion
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

27-29 Sep 2022

International Congress on Thermal Tourism

Ourense, Ourense, Spain
13 Oct 2022

VAC 2022

The ICC Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2022

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