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The metaverse—seen as a digital environment powered through virtual and augmented reality technologies—is set to herald a new era in content creation.
Experts believe the metaverse will transform the creator economy and the nature of decentralization. CEO of KuCoin Johnny Lyu says the metaverse will “change the paradigm of content creation,” while Rory Kenny, CEO of Loudly, says that content creators will play an integral part in creating the metaverse space owing to their established social media presence. The metaverse, according to Kenny, is set to reshape the creator economy, which has already exceeded a $104 billion-market size, into a multibillion-dollar industry.
Yet the metaverse is still a nebulous, non-singular concept. It’s often likened to dystopian visions or pop culture references like Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, and characterized as a collective interactive platform where users can put on headsets to not only communicate and socialize, but also trade goods, services and experiences. Besides, any company can create its own metaverse independent of other existing worlds.
Our visions of a metaverse are paradoxically linked to what already exists, and maybe we don’t need to look too far beyond our current lives.
“People talk a lot about the fact that the metaverse is “coming,” but the reality is that the metaverse is already here,” said Amy Wu, Founding Member and COO of Player Edition—a platform that uses web3 to connect athletes directly with communities.
While we might interact with a handful others in real life on a daily basis, our digital presence—on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Zoom—facilitates our interactions with people all around the world. Wu noted that at Player Edition, an athlete does not just exist for the 2.5 hours that they are playing a game, but are personas that extend beyond the physical court on television, social media, news outlets, merchandise, brand deals and more.
Grant Long, VP and Head of Growth at social media developer platform Koji, cited the example of the pandemic, where people were restricted in physical interactions. This kindled a surge in digital usage and content creation, with platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and FaceTime reconfiguring the very essence of social interactions. What is indicative of the metaverse for Long is how people are beginning to spend a significant portion of their human experience “on the internet and not in the physical world.”
In addition, web3 and cryptocurrency have also facilitated the divorce of physical and digital identities. Long said that with the introduction of a financial component to digital identity via blockchain, people can now use alternative online identities to not only build relationships, but also contribute to projects and earn income, all while remaining detached from their offline, physical selves.
So rather than a single centralized platform owned by a single company, the metaverse might instead lie in a network of digital exchanges intersecting with our physical lives.
“Our lives blend across physical and digital in a way that transcends traditional geography and time zones,” Wu said. “Our digital reach extends far beyond our physical reach and can connect and amplify communities in ways that were not possible before.”
Taking advantage of the ability to craft such digital personas, creators have reached audiences of millions. With over 50 million creators by 2021, there is tremendous demand for content from independent artists and influencers on social media platforms, and experts believe the metaverse will allow creators to saturate markets and industries through new promotion opportunities for products and services.
Already, web3 technologies are opening new avenues for content creation. Despite digital experiences having long existed on traditional web2 platforms, blockchain technologies allow creators to monetize their talent independent of centralized hosting platforms, while NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, allow for authenticity and provable ownership.
Creators are establishing their own business models, transforming marketing paradigms and tapping into new audiences globally. And their industry is only getting bigger.
Creators play a crucial role in the budding metaverse since they bridge people together by creating a sense of community. As companies and people embrace the metaverse and digital identity in different ways, creators’ engagement with audiences, ownership rights and brand partnerships are becoming increasingly important.
Creators have more influence with new modes of interaction and communication with their communities and fellow peers. Tokens like NFTs, for instance, enable authenticity and provable ownership independent of centralized platforms.
“With NFTs, there is provenance and history on a provable ledger for the world to see what your digital identity looks like,” Wu said. “NFTs have become a rallying cry for communities who identify with that particular project, giving creators new tools to connect with their fans. The projects that will stand the test of time are ones that think about their NFTs as building blocks for fostering communities and care about continuing to creatively add value over time.”
In addition, as brands’ images become more tied to their content, partnerships between brands and content creators will increase tenfold. Businesses are already starting to take advantage of algorithms through in-app purchasing options and live streams for product advertisement. While some companies are partnering with individual creators to launch brands, platforms like Roblox have attracted over 8 million creators by directly empowering them to generate content.
As paid online experiences, subscriptions and virtual retail sales become commonplace, Long foresees greater collaboration between different actors in the space.
“It’s become abundantly clear that the activities that people, individuals or groups generate on the internet has a deep intersection with activity in the real world,” Long said. “I think that more and more, there will be a deep partnership between producers of goods and producers of content and services, and then also those [creators] who have built a community and have authority on the Internet to bring those things to life.”
As the boundary between physical and digital experiences slowly becomes less clear, one thing is certain — creators will take center stage.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Freya Savla is a Tech Innovation Fellow from Yale University, where she is exploring the political economy through the lens of economics, policy and journalism.
Contact Freya at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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