While footage of the recent metaverse interaction between Mark Zuckerberg and Neil DeGrasse-Tyson has been widely panned in spite of the billions of dollars pumped into its development, research by Bain & Company is showing that teens are embracing “metaverse-lite” games—and spending money on them.
While many business thought leaders are focused on fully-immersive virtual reality platforms, investing heavily in virtual real estate as they attempt to build an early presence in what they believe to be the latest iteration of the internet as we know it, most users have embraced the idea of metaverse-lite games that do not require VR headsets or cryptocurrency wallets. Metaverse-lite games typically involve a 3D virtual world, an in-game player avatar, and social interaction and connection, with games like Minecraft, Fortnite, Roblox, and World of Warcraft bringing millions of unique users into their worlds.
“There has been a lot of buzz, and plenty of confusion, among the business community on what the metaverse is and how it will shift commerce and life into the digital realm,” said Andre James, Global Head of Bain & Company's media & entertainment practice. “Meanwhile, young gamers have been paving the future of the metaverse. They have adapted to metaverse-style games, often preferring to socialize with friends in games more than in person.”
As the pandemic drove people out of public places and into their homes, teens increasingly took to video games as a first choice for entertainment and socialization, with 32% of teens having played metaverse-style games, and 50% of young gamers preferring to spend time with their friends in video games rather than socializing in person.
They’re putting their money where their time is too, with 13-17 year old gamers spending an average of $42 per month, versus the 18-24 age group’s $28 per month, and the 25-34 age group’s $35 per month. Subscription-based services and monetized in-game items that aid customization have been driving increased revenue per user, with trends likely to continue as game makers push players to spend more.
While competition is stiff as companies attempt to unseat giants like Minecraft, Fortnite, and GTA V: Online, Bain recommends that developers produce “fun and immersive experiences that are social, multiplatform, and customizable.” While the future of gaming may not feature much in the way of badly-animated fist bump attempts, it certainly will involve plenty of unique opportunities for players to interact and have fun.