In 2004, they unknowingly created a metaverse. At the origins of one of the greatest video game successes of the 2000s, the creators of World of Warcraft recorded quests and battles that drew millions of players into a pixelated medieval and fantasy universe. Publisher Blizzard has also made it possible for players to communicate directly and trade virtual objects. In this example, as in others, any resemblance to the digital worlds being developed by Meta (ex-Facebook), Epic Games, or The Sandbox is no coincidence.
“For a long time, the video game industry didn’t talk about the metaverses, but today it has gradually brought the blocks that make up the metaverses,” notes Jean-Christophe Liobe, an analyst on the subject at consulting agency Fabernovel.
In fact, many video games meet one or more of the criteria listed in the metaverse definition given by Matthew Ball, a leading North American author of virtual worlds: multiplayer, immersive, real-time, open-world, with functional economy. “This is where video games are the pioneers of the metaverse,” Arthur de La Bruniere, also an analyst at Fabernovel, abounds.
Genesis in video games
Admittedly, a key element of the metaverse is still missing from video game production: unlike future virtual worlds, games stop when players are not playing. But otherwise, the genesis of the metaverse is beautiful and well described in the video game.
Aside from the pixelated and 3D aesthetics, nearly twenty years old World of Warcraft and today’s metaverse share the same desire to accommodate a large number of players at the same time. In vastly different genres, gangster games from the GTA franchise or adventure games like Assassin’s Creed have for years allowed their players to develop as they please in an open world-like metaverse. Similarly, the augmented reality game Pokemon Go, which has seen millions of users roam the neighborhood since 2016 to catch little monsters on their smartphone screens, is proving to be as immersive as the metaverse can be.
From Fortnite skins to NFTs
But the similarities don’t end there. While a “functional economy” seems to be a fundamental element of the metaverse, it is clear that the premise of a market for fully virtual goods and services has been profitable for many video game publishers long before the advent of NFTs and blockchains that some imagine. widespread throughout the metaverse.
In the phenomenal games of League of Legends, Roblox or the famous Fortnite, buying virtual objects designed for player avatars is a real business. These microtransactions to purchase “skins” (virtual items and clothing) worth a few euros or dollar cents, but often denominated in digital currency specific to the video game in question, generate billions of dollars in revenue. They are even sometimes the only source of income for certain games that you can subscribe to for free.
Video game before Web3
At the forefront of the emergence of the Metaverse, the bosses of the video game sector have long theorized about the concept’s success. Especially if they protect the front door from him. “The video game is becoming a leading social activity,” Tim Sweeney, Epic Games boss, explained in February 2020. So it’s hardly surprising that Fortnite will see a series of all-online concerts in which millions of players sheath their weapons, abandoning the game that brought them together in the first place to rock their hips in front of giant avatars. singer Ariana Grande, rapper Travis Scott and soon French-Malian artist Aya Nakamura.
Epic Games and Fortnite, regularly mentioned among advocates for the future of the Metaverse, highlight the strength of the connections that exist between the Metaverse and the video game sector. Almost all of Facebook’s other big competitors in this space, from Roblox to Microsoft, are gaming giants, and as far as the new metaverses go, many of them are initiated in order to offer the video game experience.
So, the creator of The Diggers community (17,000 registered on the forum of the Discord exchange platform) Florian Freisenet began building a game on The Sandbox with some participants. “We are talking about blockchain, decentralized Web3, but basically we want to create our own video game,” he says. The circle is complete.
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