Developments of Metaverse Entertainment in the UK
Data compiled by KPMG UK shows that 47 percent of UK consumers believe the Metaverse will see widespread usage within the next decade. This is amidst the rising interest in the Metaverse and the impact it will have on ecommerce, entertainment, and other aspects of everyday life. Coincidentally, it is also in line with a recent forecast that positions the UK as the next largest media and entertainment market in Europe. PwC predicts that, in the next four years, the UK entertainment sector will grow annually at 4 percent to be worth £83 billion and overtake Germany. The following post reviews the role the Metaverse will play in that growth by assessing key developments in the sector.
Metaverse Music Concerts
The Metaverse took over the music industry temporarily during the interaction restrictions put in place in 2020. During this time, research by MasterCard shows that about 23 percent of respondents between the ages of 16 and 24 attended a Metaverse concert.
Fortnite, the battle-royale title, was at the helm of this movement. In 2020, the Epic game hosted a virtual concert featuring Travis Scott. Multiple artists like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande also performed music concerts on Fortnite, events players and fans were able to enjoy through VR technology. A similar event by Lil Nas X on Roblox drew an audience of over 33 million fans.
In early 2022, Warner Music Group (WMG) announced plans to partner with Sandbox and create the platform’s first music-themed world. This event is expected to star major UK artists like Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa, although not many details have been confirmed.
Most notably and a bit closer to home, ABBA performed a virtual event in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at the ABBA Arena. Dubbed the ABBA Voyage, the May 2022 concert featured avatars of the artists as their younger selves. The event is viewable without external devices thanks to Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) technology – a major step for UK Metaverse entertainment.
Gaming and the Metaverse
Away from music, gaming has also helped advance Metaverse entertainment in the UK. Gaming is widely considered the first entertainment sector to enter the virtual space and a gateway to other forms of entertainment. In fact, most virtual music concerts and movie premieres that have taken place in the Metaverse have been facilitated through gaming systems.
So naturally, gaming has been bequeathed the honour of ushering in the age of the Metaverse; and it is doing well so far. Using both VR and blockchain technology, game developers have been able to create and build an economy around non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These digital assets have real-world value and can be used to navigate the Metaverse.
Players and their avatars can use NFTs to buy and sell property on Decentraland or Sandbox, pay for the music concerts held in Fortnite, buy digital products like those now offered by Adidas and Tommy Hilfiger, or simply purchase in-game items.
The Metaverse has not had major impacts on iGaming as of yet but the same technology used to facilitate popular events is expected to find application in online casinos and betting sites. Although it has not yet made it to online casinos, players already have a better experience with VR and AR technology where they can play at new casino sites virtually, experiencing casino environments and other players through their avatars. In terms of entertainment, the biggest poker tournament WSOP, already found their way to the Metaverse.
In-Game Fashion Shows
Fashion brands have also been keen to explore the benefits the Metaverse promises to offer the ecommerce sector. If your brand of entertainment is watching fashion shows, you may have caught the November 2022 Burberry event. Burberry, a UK-based fashion brand, collaborated with Minecraft on the project. The company has since launched in-game adventures and a capsule collection for its customers. The clothes featured are Minecraft-themed.
Earlier that year, the Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW) debuted in the Metaverse, complete with a DJ set. The event was the first ever fashion week in the space and featured many notable brands, including Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, and Bulova.
No movies have actually been released that use Metaverse technology and that viewers can engage with virtually. However, the film industry has also made steps in the right direction. Fortnite was used to debut three Christopher Nolan films, among others. And Black Mirror, the dystopian British anthology series, has depicted a Metaverse-like world. Some short animations have also used VR technology prominently so that viewers can virtually insert themselves into the narratives. As the Metaverse grows, it is expected to completely revolutionise how we consume films.
Infrastructure is necessary for the mass adoption of virtual technology, and on a wider scale than ever before. Startups, which will be at the helm of developing this infrastructure, have been raising funding over the last few years. In September last year, UK-based Metaverse startup, Hadean, announced that its first Series A funding round has netted $30 million. This is exciting for entertainment because many of these startups foresee partnerships with major entertainment firms. Hadean has already entered multi-year agreements with prominent companies like Pixelynx, Sony, and Minecraft.
Wrapping Up: The Next Decade
Popular opinion seems to hold that the Metaverse is real and will become an undeniable reality within the next decade. McKinsey reports that Metaverse internet searches increased by 7,200 percent in 2021. As if to underscore this sentiment, some of the biggest companies in the world – Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Meta – have invested significantly in the Metaverse. 6 in every 10 UK consumers also say they look forward to transitioning their daily activities into the virtual space. The UK has also seen widespread adoption of the technology across multiple industries. And while the Metaverse entertainment sector is still young here, it will grow significantly in the next ten years.