The Metaverse according to Xsolla founder Shurick Agapitov, a new narrative tool
What will be the future of companies and communication in the #metaverse? In an interview by Marco Accordi Rickards for Gamesvillage, our client #ShurickAgapitov, founder of #Xsolla, offers a new perspective on the link between the real and the virtual world.
Marco Accordi Rickards: We would like to start with the concept of the metaverse, specifically its very definition. This idea originated from the imagination of Neal Stephenson. However, nowadays, the term ‘metaverse’ has become extremely relevant and is used with different shades of meaning. Different people give various definitions of the metaverse. So, if you had to explain it to an older individual with no knowledge of it, how would you describe it?
Shurick Agapitov: I conceive of the metaverse as a new incarnation of the internet, a kind of space internet. In video games, there are several virtual worlds, such as Roblox or Skyrim. When you connect these worlds, the concept of the metaverse is born. Take for example Fortnite and Minecraft, two virtual worlds that are not originally connected but can be connected via the metaverse portal. It is somewhat similar to our use of the internet, where we can have multiple pages open and ‘jump’ from one to another. This is the way we move and connect through the internet. Similarly, the metaverse works in the same way: it is a tool through which we can travel through various virtual worlds.
Marco Accordi Rickards: This perspective is really fascinating. Don’t you think, though, that the concept of the metaverse could be a bit clumsy? For example, if you look at what Sony did with PlayStation Home, it came somewhat close to this idea. Or, think about the case of the very first Second Life: in the end, both were unsuccessful because people perceived the experience as rather boring and tiring, since they had to invest time to reach a virtual place.
Shurick Agapitov: Certainly, but what you described does not correspond to the concept of the metaverse. That description seems more akin to a social space. Unlike a simple place of interaction, the metaverse should present authentic entertainment, like that offered in video games and virtual worlds. The creation of the metaverse occurs when we interconnect several virtual worlds through links that allow people to move freely between them, resulting in a universe of virtual worlds. A key element is a virtual backpack containing objects that can be carried through these worlds, something the metaverse does not currently possess. This concept could be compared to NFTs in that, although they do not represent real property, they do constitute usable resources in digital space. The idea of a virtual backpack present in each virtual world contributes to a feeling of connectedness.
Marco Accordi Rickards: Do you imagine that the metaverse takes full control of the real Internet, or that it can operate in harmony with it, exploiting both environments?
Shurick Agapitov: I do not believe that something needs to die for something new to be born. Soon, I imagine that every company will have a three-dimensional representation of its website. Although some companies might adopt it early on, it is likely that, at some point, every company will use the metaverse to promote its products or services. The meta-verse could serve as an extraordinary storytelling device that complements marketing efforts. Consequently, companies should benefit from it. Some brands are able to sell online without the need to own an elaborate physical shop, but nowadays it seems indispensable to have one for large-scale marketing purposes. For example, Zara allows the online purchase of its products, but also offers physical outlets where one can immerse oneself in the brand experience. Another example could be car companies such as Audi or Volkswagen, which create new advertising trailers for platforms such as YouTube. I assume that, soon, there will be a budget specifically dedicated to the metaverse. This could manifest itself in the form of a game that simulates driving an Audi car, for example, aiming to convey the desired emotions and experiences through working with marketing experts and storytellers. This game could feature three-dimensional and photorealistic elements, among other features.