“We’ve seen a lot of memes about the graphics of Horizons circling online since the announcements, but in my mind prioritizing solid performance and maximum accessibility with existing consumer hardware over eye-catching graphics is key to making the kind of wide-scale adoption Meta is looking for feasible,” he explains. “When Meta released the Quest VR headset, its affordable price point drastically increased the size of the VR market, and frequent reductions to the price of the unit have further accelerated consumer adoption, resulting in nearly 15 million units being sold. Meta now has a huge potential audience to use, promote and play-test Horizons, giving them a significant advantage over competitors in the field, albeit at the expense of graphical fidelity, thanks to the Quest VR’s limited processing power resulting from its low price point.”
Ultimately, Meta’s focus on dominating the hardware market for the metaverse makes them a key player for retailers to watch.
“Personally, I believe a great user experience that consistently creates positive memories for users can be much more powerful than good graphics alone,” Moebius says. “The recent fierce financial and social backlash against video game releases like Cyberpunk 2077, which were perceived to have prioritized flashy graphics over core UX, has definitely strengthened this belief within me.”
Emperia’s Dogadkina agrees that Meta is a player to watch.
“Facebook used to heavily promote Oculus and later on Meta Quest as an exclusive way to use virtual spaces, which has always been an entry barrier to users, due to price point and comfort,” she says. “This will probably change with time, maybe with the use of other hardware or more flexibility around devices, which will make the technology more accessible. One big advantage Meta holds is the ability to collect and analyze data, which Emperia sees as crucial, in order to make virtual retail spaces into an actual bottom-line contributor, and this is where Meta would have the upper hand when it comes to dominating this future market.”
Emerging Trends to Watch
While metaverse platforms become more sophisticated, emerging technologies will influence consumer behavior in the digital realm.
Accenture Technology Vision research identified four key trends evolving within the metaverse:
- WebMe — Putting the Me in Metaverse: Since the pandemic, consumers have become accustomed to living virtually and the metaverse is a natural extension of that. It enables companies to transform customer experiences and relationships, expand their addressable markets and create new revenue streams.
- Programmable World — Our planet, personalized: This is about technologies like 5G, AR and smart materials being woven through physical environments in increasingly sophisticated ways. This enables an unprecedented level of control, automation and personalization in the physical world.
- The Unreal — Making Synthetic, Authentic: Consumers are increasingly encountering machines that in many ways resemble humans. While most are designed for good, some bad actors are using these technologies for malicious purposes, e.g., deepfakes and bots. This is forcing companies to question what’s real, what isn’t, and if the line between those two really matters.
- Computing the Impossible — New Machines, New Possibilities: A new class of machines is pushing the limits of what’s computationally possible. This is blurring the lines between industries, and challenging companies to solve society’s greatest challenges.
The Future of the Metaverse
The metaverse will significantly disrupt the retail industry, and those in the industry predict its uptake will be much faster and more widespread than most people expect.