Metaverse is a trillion-dollar opportunity, according to Forbes. As one of the fastest-growing at a phenomenal pace of 41% YoY, the metaverse is speculated to be the future of online gaming, social media, B2B content marketing, and virtual experience management in the coming months. As part of our predictions series 2022, we chatted with Jessica Rovello, CEO and co-founder of Arkadium, the leading creator of casual games for adults. Jessica shared her insights on the future of AI and machine learning and why metaverse is something every CEO should pay attention to.
Hi Jessica, how has the metaverse unseated Al and blockchain as the top-most emerging technology for CEOs in 2022?
The metaverse has not unseated Al and blockchain – rather, it’s an emerging technology that CEOs will need to pay attention to. Whereas five years ago CEOs did not necessarily know how they were going to integrate AI or blockchain into their businesses, there are now much more specific real-world examples of how they can do so. Now is the time for CEOs to be thinking about the metaverse in that same way – what applications will it have for their business in the future?
And how can they get started thinking about those future applications now?
What kind of investments are we hoping to see in the metaverse for 2022?
We are still in the early days, but massively multiplayer games are certainly the first stage of what these metaverses will be. Over the next year brands will continue to integrate into existing game metaverses – think branded skins and private concerts in Fortnite, and Chipotle restaurants in Roblox.
What’s your take on the mobile gaming ecosystem and the role of various payments apps that make these games such a success?
Metaverses already exist, and gaming is leading the way in terms of how people are currently interacting in them. There is branding and hype which makes it seem like this is a totally new concept, and that this is the next version of the internet. But in reality, this is not something in the distant future – it’s already happening – but those applications are primarily inside the gaming world. There is a lot of room for growth down the line. Gen Z is growing up inside these metaverses from the age of six or seven so naturally, as they grow up it will be much more natural for them to interact in these environments. The possibilities of what will be created in this space are endless.
What’s the connection with NFTs?
In 2022, NFTs will get hyped in gaming.
NFTs have become hugely popular in recent years, reaching $2.5 billion in sales volume in the first half of 2021. However, NFTs are currently an underutilized source for the gaming world. Certain companies such as Ubisoft are leaning in, with Ubisoft launching Ubisoft Quartz, where it will offer NFTs that it is calling Digits. Polygon is also noticing NFTs, and launched Polygon Studios in July, focused on helping to advance blockchain gaming and NFTs. In 2022, more gaming platforms would be wise to jump on board. This will be the year that more gaming platforms finally open their eyes to all of the exciting changes that have the possibility to take place in online gaming in the not-so-distant future, and understand the value of leaning in to this untapped market.
Do you think blockchain and metaverse could change Mobile Application DevOps?
Yes, in 2022, we are expecting app store changes.
Until now, gaming has mainly been largely centralized through big tech companies and servers. As the world starts moving towards the metaverse and blockchain, it is now becoming ungated. The world is pulling in that direction quickly. In 2022 and beyond, we will see this transformation to decentralization. On top of that, regulators and Big Tech are calling for new regulations to support user privacy. All of these developments will have a subsequent impact on the app store experience for users as well as creators. Expect increased ads, reduced fees, link-outs , and greater restrictions on cross-app tracking in 2022 – especially on iOS devices – stemming from regulation and litigation changes required by the U.S. Department of Justice.
What do you think about ‘Play-to-earn’ gaming models?
We should all keep a close watch on the Axie Infinity economy. The play-to-earn model will be rethought this year.
Blockchain-based game Axie Infinity has been gaining attention recently, as it has seen a 2,100% increase in its native crypto token since the beginning of July, and has a market cap of $7.5 billion as of October. In the game, users play their monsters against each other to win in-game currency, and in this way Axie Infinity relies on the play-to-earn model. However, despite its current popularity, I believe that their fifteen minutes of fame will end in the new year. This is because, for the play-to-earn model to remain profitable, they will need to keep attracting players at an exponential rate. The rate of new players is bound to slow down – especially considering that joining Axie Infinity can cost up to $1,000. They currently have 1.5 million daily active users, but this number is already leveling out. Because of the unsustainable economic model that they built, we will see that the economy that Axie Infinity created will collapse as growth slows down
Are gamers getting more tech-savvy?
Yes, there are. The average age of gamers will increase in 2022.
On our site at Arkadium, we are seeing a trend that an increasingly older audience is tuning in to online games. In 2022, I believe that the average age of gamers will go from 34 to 40, from the increase in time spent gaming by older adults. Arkadium has quickly become the #1 online game destination and community designed for players 35 and up, a demographic that represents 41% of all game players. Arkadium has millions of active, worldwide players and has seen a 39.5% year-over-year increase in users across our network. The average age of gamers is increasing as Boomer gamers and older are spending more time gaming online. We expect this number to only increase in 2022, and for this trend to be similarly reflected across the gaming space.
Thank you Jessica for sharing your predictions on NFTs and gaming trends! We look forward to chatting with you again.