Past, Present, Future: How User-Generated Content Will Ignite the Metaverse
The digital spaces we inhabit today have evolved considerably since the beginnings of the Internet. The next major evolutionary transition is unfolding rapidly, with many of the world’s largest technology companies announcing their intention to pioneer the so-called “metavers.”
As venture capitalist Matthew Ball describes it, “[The metaverse] “It’s an incarnate Internet that consists of an interoperable, massively scalable network of 3D virtual worlds rendered in real time, which can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an unlimited number of users with a sense of individual presence.”
Unlike previous iterations of the Internet, metavers will be built and owned primarily by its users, not large centralized entities. As such, user-generated content (UGC) will be at the center.
What is user-generated content (UGC) and why is it important for metavers?
UGC is content (such as images, videos, text, and audio) created by users rather than professional content creators.
Image: UCG examples for LaCroix, GoPro, and Netflix brands
While UCG is not exclusive to the digital realm, understanding how it has influenced the Internet, the web, and social media is essential to understanding how it is shaping metavers.
The metavers, and the latest iteration of the World Wide Web (called Web 3.0), are two sides of the same coin. The metaverse shows how users will experience the Internet of the future, while Web 3.0 deals with who will own, co-create, and control the Internet of tomorrow.
A history of web iterations and user-generated content
Let’s take a closer look at the role of the UGC in the three main iterations of the web to better explain how it will shape the metavers.
The initial website consisted of static read-only web pages created by a small number of individuals and organizations that had advanced technology skills for their time. These web pages provided almost no interactivity. However, its creators were in control of the content because these web pages were hosted on the creators’ own servers or rented directly. Tools such as Microsoft FrontPage and Macromedia’s Dreamweaver were introduced to democratize website creation, but required some web development and coding skills.
Our current iteration, Web 2.0, is characterized by centralized platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Medium. In addition to platforms, this era received new mobile tools such as iPhones and Android phones, which provide connectivity and media capture capabilities. The rapid adoption of smartphones and mobile apps connected to social platforms fired the UGC to previously unimaginable volumes. These tools and platforms make it easier for users to create content and interact with it, but many limit content creators in the control they have over it. The middleman (platform) really monetizes and benefits from UGC while providing limited financial involvement in the loot with the creator.
Thanks to blockchain technology and the various built-in solutions (such as non-consumable tabs) [NFTs]), Web 3.0 promises to give content creators back control of their content without complicating production. It aims to achieve this by moving content away from centralized platforms and into decentralized ledgers and aggregators with similar content.
“No matter how the metavers take shape, UGC will be a basic element that will give it its personality, authenticity and scale. Encouraging creativity and allowing freedom of expression through the UGC is something that all metavers experiences. they should strive to do so. ” —Scott Reismanis, founder of ModDB and mod.io.
Decentralization and guaranteed ownership of content are critical to metavers because it encourages its users to spend long hours creating UGCs. Content creators can have more detailed control over their products and even enjoy compensation beyond the initial sale through configurable copyright. In Web 3.0, creators will also benefit from greater interoperability that will allow them to view and use their unique product in multiple metaverses.
UGC is already shaping the first metavers projects
Without UGC, metavers can never become an embodied version of the Internet because the Internet would not be what it is today without this type of content.
Instead of being the interactive place where people consume content, learn, socialize, and share their deepest ideas and feelings, it would be more like a modern version of these text-based television services called Teletext or broadcast teletext. .
The importance of the UGC for metavers can be seen in early metavers projects such as Somnium Space, The Sandbox, Roblox and others.
The success of these proto-metaverses can be largely attributed to the content created by their players. This contrasts with attribution to developers who strive to provide content creators with easy-to-use and motivating tools that make it possible to make money based on how much their creations are used.
And there’s no doubt that the top UGC for Roblox generates a lot of commitment. For example, the pet simulator Adopt Me, the most popular Roblox game of all time, garnered more than 27.39 billion views in February 2022. The independent studio behind the parent company employs some 40 people and earns $ 50 million a year, mostly with microtransactions.
But prominent examples of UGC, such as Adopt Me, are just the beginning. Most of the UGC on the metavers will be much more mundane and unimportant, just as most UGCs on the web today are nonsensical comments and endless republishing of memes.
However, this mundane UGC is exactly what the metavers need to feel alive and truly immersive.
The Internet as we know it is evolving and gradually becoming immersive. Soon, we will experience it as a network of 3D virtual worlds represented in real time, and user-generated content will play an important role in what these worlds look like and what can be done in them. The way we approach learning for all ages will change fundamentally over the next decade, and my company, Allen Interactions, is proud to be a part of that change. Allen Interactions has been a pioneer in revolutionary technology in the learning industry for over 40 years and is looking forward to breaking new ground.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the Allen Interactions blog.