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(Non-technical) Cost Considerations of developing a Metaverse/Virtual World

Two co-workers having a discussion in the foreground in front of a laptop, with two others working individually in the background

Metaverse trend

It has been more than 2 years since Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta (previously Facebook), announced to the world about his plans to make the Metaverse a commonplace. It was a grand vision. Many have tried to race against him, wanting to be the first one to do it, but have failed.

Many have now learnt (the hard way) that making a full-fledged metaverse from the ground up requires immense amount of resources. Of course, this is assuming that we adopt the same vision as what Mark Zuckerberg first pushed forward to be part of a metaverse. These features include a fully immersive and seamless experience indistinguishable from reality, with somewhat realistic environments where users could interact with both the virtual and physical worlds without noticeable boundaries.

The above description still requires plenty of R&D to achieve, from both the technological hardware and software standpoint. On top of that, they also require plenty of hardware, like the headset itself, sensors, mixed reality displays and more... In short, to reach Mark Zuckerberg's vision of Metaverse, it is going to take more than just time, but also immense amounts of capital.

Purpose of Metaverse

While Mark Zuckerberg may see the metaverse as a revolutionary change to our way of lives, most businesses and corporations see it as a marketing strategy. A means to connect to the newer generation of audience. In the world of businesses, "adapt or die" is a fairly commonly used concept. Brands will try their best to adapt to new trends quickly, even if it means accepting the risk of backfiring.

To prevent such mishaps, perhaps everyone should take some time to really consider what they want out of the "metaverse" and what it actually is.

Virtual Worlds

Fundamentally, a metaverse is a space for people to connect, a "Virtual World". These can still exist and function without the bells and whistles that was promised during Meta Connect 2021.

Some core components that people expect from a virtual world include things such as:

  • User controlled avatar

  • Intuitive controls

  • Multi-user

  • Common interactions with items (virtual) and other individuals

  • Ability to communicate easily (via voice)

  • Shared visuals or the ability to look at the same digital projections

Major costs when developing Virtual Worlds

Type of Visuals

The beauty of virtual worlds being, well virtual, is that it can don almost any kind of appearance. From blocky or cartoony looks to epic levels of realism we see in the Marvel movies.

But here comes a problem. Many corporations set expectations for "hyper realism". Perhaps from the fear of looking too "childish" would draw ridicule. That's where a cost of development goes sky high and the hardware requirements to running such a virtual world become prohibitive to most people. Like watching a Marvel film, it's beautiful to watch and simple to enjoy. But the amount of effort and the costs to the production is something that most people are not aware of, or turn a blind eye to.

So when it comes to visuals, perhaps the finding a good balance between cost and visuals, as well as matching your target audience should be one of the first things that must be established before diving deep into making a virtual world.

Type and number of Interactions

Building virtual worlds is fundamentally like building a software. You have the core features that needs to be built, and then the bells and whistles are additional features that gets added in.

And with each additional feature, it will take time to achieve. Developmental costs begin to rack up as more features are desired. The more complicated the features, such as complex game logic, the longer and more costly development will become.

However, this is really only a problem if you want to build everything from the ground up yourself, and you want specific features not readily available from elsewhere. Which brings us to the point about...

Utilising existing 3rd-party platforms

There are a number of already existing platforms for you to build your virtual world on. Such as Fortnite and There is no need to build everything from scratch, as these platforms have already done it! As long as you know what each platform can or cannot do, you can more readily leverage on their existence.

So by leveraging on existing platforms, we can cut developmental costs. By knowing what each platform does best, and what kind of people they naturally attract, it is easier to figure out what works for your brand. From there, it is all about developing the appropriate content and go-to-market strategy! Of course, it may not be 100% according to the initial vision and direction, but it is more than likely to be a good middle ground. Balancing the cost and the desired goal for having a virtual world.

But does every brand really need a virtual world? Is it a sure-fire strategy at all? Are there other alternatives that could meet the desired goals still without having to make one?

Alternatives to Virtual World

Of course there are! The main purpose for brands to have virtual worlds is to connect with their audience. There are so many other digital ways that it can be done, leveraging on the creative technology that already exists!

There are simpler ones like Augmented Reality, 360 tours and even simple gamified experiences on the web browser. Depending on the target audience, these simpler experience may actually be even more appealing to them. As they present a lower barrier to entry, sometimes psychological.

It all depends on the needs of the brand, target audience, purpose and budget! At The Doodle People, we can help you learn more about these different technologies and identify the best one for your brand and its cause! So do reach out to us via the contact form if you need some advice!


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