1 Minute in the Metaverse 🌐 Metaverse as a Collective Enterprise
About the guest:
Yingzi Yuan is a creative industries specialist, on a mission to foster innovation in media and entertainment. Previously part of the Ubisoft Strategic Innovation Lab, she is the Founder & Builder of the Metaverse Summit, a community-driven global event aimed at showcasing latest technological breakthroughs in the metaverse.
As a founder of a conference dedicated to the metaverse, what do you see is different about these new-generation events?
Like any other event, a lot of it is about practical information, logistics, but of course the main thing is people and ideas. With these new events, there’s a more community-driven approach. Like elsewhere in web3, it’s about finding the right balance between decentralization and decision-making. We want to make a cool event that has the best ideas from everybody by, for instance, encouraging participants to recommend their favorite speakers, influencers, or key opinion leaders.
Interesting. So, the community-driven aspect is very important, because it reflects the decentralized spirit of web3. Could you talk more about that? What are web3 communities like, what’s unique about them?
I want to highlight that the metaverse is kind of like web3, but is also different. For me, the metaverse is more about entertainment, in a consumer-oriented sense. When you’re talking about an app with the users, they’re thinking of it in terms of functions, i.e. I use Snapchat for stories. They wouldn’t say “I’m in web2 or 3 now”.
When it comes to the metaverse, it’s very diverse and there are different ways of building it. In our summit, there are four building blocks: gaming, web3 & decentralization, mixed reality and virtual world, and social interactivity. These four are the pillars of an amusing, complete experience to the end consumer. This is the positive, decentralized future that we want to communicate to the developer community and entrepreneurs to, in the end, have something beautiful.
It makes a lot of sense to distinguish web3, the tech backbone, from the metaverse — the more aspirational entertainment oriented virtual worlds dimension…
I wouldn’t say it’s totally a virtual world, because real life connection is really important — in the end, it’s about enhancing the connection between people. That is the core, whatever the format is; which can be purely virtual — like in a VR headset — with your virtual avatar, or it can be a real life interaction as well, like some apps with AR features and other tools.
Yes. One of our previous guests, Ryan Mullins, defined the metaverse in a similar way — as a virtual layer that enhances physical reality. In that sense, what technological changes are we going to see in the near future that get us closer to this vision?
I think the entertainment and creative industries are going to bring more technological tools — including everything that is blockchain and crypto — to a more diverse and inclusive consumer base. It wouldn’t be only the OG and the geek communities who are scrolling on Twitter reading about Defi — it will be more diversified. I wouldn’t say your grandma will be onboarded this year, but it will be more diverse, not only in terms of gender, but also in terms of age, and other demographic elements.
How specifically, do you think it’s going to happen?
It will be through a new version of gaming. I don’t like saying the term ‘gaming’ here, because it makes us think of it in a traditional sense: AAA tiles, with consoles, or PCs. But in the near future, the more generalized, new format of gaming will emerge by combining AR with gameplay, for example, or with music with VR and a social interaction platform. These new combinations of technology will become the new genre of entertainment.
Gaming will bring the next generation of consumers onto web3 and the metaverse.
So, gaming will be a gateway into the metaverse and catalyst of its mass adoption.
Yes. It’s a seamless onboarding of the next billion of consumers onto the metaverse. People won’t even notice that it’s high tech — they will have a seamless experience because they love it. And now we’re producing something beautiful for them.
Can you think of any specific game or virtual environment that would be particularly attractive for ‘mass consumer onboarding’?
I wouldn’t say there’s one company that is the most impactful. If any, Meta is trying to be the one metaverse company. But there will be different segments, niches, and creators coming from each and every direction — and entrepreneurs in the field to respond by providing them with the right tools.
Speaking of which, as someone who’s worked extensively with startups, what are the key technologies being used to redefine the internet as we know it?
The past three years have been so exciting! Not one technology, but a couple of different technologies are emerging and innovating themselves — a lot of breakthroughs, resulting in a final product that we couldn’t have imagined before.
For instance, computer graphics. Back in 2019, in SIGGRAPH — the biggest computer graphic conference in the world — I was seeing this volumetric capture hardware, which was costly and time-consuming to use. Today, digital human production has been democratized.
We’re seeing such diverse tech emerging from each and every direction and coming to the central point of the metaverse.
From working with startups, I’ve seen the following: in order to create something that is really popular today, the essential point is not to leverage one technology — it is to combine the best of everything.
And in terms of business models that come with these tech innovations, what shifts have you observed?
Mindsets are shifting, particularly when it comes to the creator economy.
Take a VR company specialized in music creation. It would normally rely on subscriptions (free or freemium) or ads, which is more rare in VR since the beginning. But it can actually make more sense for a company like that to approach it in a more ‘creator economy’ way — by giving the tools to other creators to monetize, with the host platform taking commission.
The creative industry is changing in that sense, which concerns gaming too of course. There we have seen microtransactions, seasonal passes and so one and now it’s ‘play-to-earn’. I don’t like the term, but the ‘earning’ part is definitely part of the new kind of business model, based on blockchain, crypo, and NFTs.
What’s wrong with the term ‘play-to-earn’ in your view?
It suggests that the motivation behind playing is to earn money, which is indeed the starting point for a lot of popular new games like Axie Infinity.
However, the majority of players have been playing video games throughout history not to make money, but to have fun — and the fun is the most essential here. We wouldn’t want the earning part to ruin the experience. Earning is more of a reward for people who are good at it. Like in the Olympics.
Web3 games rely on NFTs. What’s your stance on those as part of new business models?
The key part here is utility for NFT holders. It’s a major topic. All the platforms involved in NFTs need to rethink that. It’s a work in progress, looking forward to all the ideas that will emerge as part of the equation. There are certainly lots of opportunities, but also risks — which shouldn’t prevent people from learning and trying to create with this tech. I advocate for NFT projects that make sense, meaning: that have a long term vision, are building a community and benefiting its members, have a positive and fertile decentralized view in the long run.
Speaking of the long run, what will the metaverse be like 10 years from now in your view?
The metaverse will have more technology to back it up. Right now we are lacking the computing power to have a real time connection, we do not have enough bandwidth. In terms of hardware, we will have more user-friendly interfaces, lighter hardware, and won’t be using handwear like smartphones anymore.
In terms of content, we will be shifting to a new mode tool: we wouldn’t be having this user data problem with the big companies.
Each person will have a digital identity in the future, which we’ll use to access multiple data points, that we can choose to share or not with a certain institution or platform.
If I want to exchange data with more practical, faster recommendation, and utility, I can choose that path. Or maybe I prefer to stay anonymous in the virtual world. Choice will matter more in the business models of the future.
About the series: 1 Min in the Metaverse is a LinkedIn original that aims to explore the metaverse through the eyes of those building it! Each interview comes with a 1-min sneak peek of key ideas as well as a full version long read.
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