By Gary Knight, CEO at WOLF (The World’s Online Festival), shares his thoughts on the technological advances we can expect in 2023 and what they mean for business
An evolving metaverse, Web 3.0 and immersive virtual reality, is 2023 about to level up ‘the new normal’ for businesses? Could we step into a world that we never imagined would ever be our ‘normal’?
Here, Gary Knight, CEO of WOLF, a British start-up offering online entertainment specifically for the Arabic market, shares his thoughts on the considerations businesses should watch out for in 2023:
The metaverse in 2023
The metaverse isn’t one overall virtual world and it’ll be some time before we see it being ‘interoperable’ with people hopping between each different metaverse platform in that way. What we can expect in 2023 is more consumers experiencing purpose-built virtual 3D experiences that deliver on very particular needs that they have. And, like any business – those that get their product-market fit spot on, will succeed.
While gaming has been proven and somewhat the driving force of early adoption of the metaverse, the creativity afforded to brands now will offer many other virtual world experiences. The big question is what will the first real use case of the metaverse be beyond gaming?
Our money is on entertainment. And not just because it’s our space at WOLF, but because an event in the metaverse takes the gig experience to another level. It’s one of few metaverse experiences delivering something truly new and exciting to users.
In my view, entertainment in the metaverse is the next frontier in what people love to do on their digital devices and entertainment brands must grab the opportunity. We see entertainment as the gateway for the metaverse to go mainstream and open up a 3D world of possibilities for businesses and consumers alike. To have their brand fans and audiences immersing themselves in a fantastical 3D environment where they can interact with others, and be transported to a new type of reality, engaging with the creators they love.
Will the metaverse go mass market in 2023? Absolutely not! It will take a few more years to reach that tipping point, where engaging in 3D worlds is a normal part of life. But what we will see is lots of early adopters regularly checking out concerts in 3D worlds and if there is enough value and cache in the experience, well, we know what happens then. People fall in love with it!
Beyond live events, Virtual Reality (VR) will go off in a number of niche directions next year. One minute a brand could be taking clients on a tour of Antarctica with David Attenborough, they next riding space roller coasters, or immersing customers in a 3D world where they can use and experience new products.
Businesses can capitalise on this new area in other ways – gifting items and rewards to consumers, suppliers and other stakeholders as we see virtual gifting grow in popularity in 2023.
Let’s take flowers as an example. Buying someone flowers is always a nice touch and regarded as an act to show you care, rather than because the person loves flowers. That sentiment is no different in a virtual space. We brought that concept to life in our app and it was a huge hit – we saw 700,000 sales where people bought each other beautiful bouquets in the metaverse that the recipients could wear to decorate their avatar.
Ready, steady, web 3.0…
Web 3.0 is about to revolutionise the way businesses operate online: enabling new offerings and different monetisation opportunities. Up until now the internet has been centralised – Web 2.0 has been controlled by the big tech corporations (think Apple, Meta, Alphabet, Bytedance, Twitter and so on). These tech giants have had all the power at their fingertips – they have had the capability to delete users’ content without warning sometimes, and introduce new rules to how users engage with a particular app. They have been able to collect data and use it to create advertising spend – the monetisation coming not from the choice of users to spend but from putting often-unwanted ads in users’ way.
Now, Web 3.0 is here to offer an iteration of what we already have, but this development is going to put more control into consumers’ hands where they, until now, have been passive.
For businesses across many sectors, this is an incredibly exciting area to develop. This is all about platforms and their users teaming up to create valuable experiences together, wherein they can mutually generate revenue.
Offering amazing new experiences in mobile apps, websites and VR and AR that really entertain people and have them talking about it will drive enough value to have people spending money in the future.
While making money is of course important, from the users’ perspective it’s about a lot more than just that, so businesses must always remember that. There’s a degree of pure enjoyment of using cool technology. For us, it’s about our community getting instant gratification from the feedback of live audiences, and from getting feelings of self-confidence and self-esteem from being recognised and respected by their peers.
Social media platforms in 2023
We often see rapid defence from established players whenever anything resembling a threat to their dominance emerges. TikTok’s rise saw Instagram respond with Reels and YouTube with Shorts. Clubhouse saw most of the main platforms launch some form of social audio feature when they hit the headlines. And now we have BeReal showing the view from both front and back phone cameras simultaneously which is now driving market players to run Current Status updates. If you can’t patent a technology to own, this will keep happening. There is a real opportunity in 2023 to be unique and original, particularly in the metaverse and virtual reality space, which are so far underserved in terms of social media experiences.