The Metaverse is growing and people are pouring time and money into epic builds, but it's all about the real humans behind the avatars. When an excited audience warms up a virtual Space, it is transformed into a place. A place to be.
An article on Coindesk went viral late last week in various group chats and on social media, calling the Metaverse out for being lonely. The reality is quite different.
The headline “Decentraland’s 38 Daily Active Users in a $1.3B Ecosystem” definitely caught everyone's attention. In Spatial it has become clearer and clearer that what we are building is the next era of social media, where people connect in real-time — spending time together. I should know, as I’ve been leading Spatial’s research initiatives on participation and engagement.
Humans are social creatures, wired for connection. All the most popular ways we use the internet now are to share ideas and content with others. Like TikTok or other social media, people need to create and share to make the medium interesting and valuable. The metaverse is posed to operate similarly, but whereas these Web2 technologies encourage addictive following based on likes and shares, the metaverse is encouraging something healthier — community and belonging.
The Web3 space is fueled by community. Look at PFPs or DAOs, spaces that give people a sense of belonging. Owning a WOW PFP for example is not just a status symbol, it is membership to a club. Being part of Friends with Benefits has the draw right there in the title. In 2022 in a post-pandemic world, we’ve all been reminded how important it is to surround ourselves with like-minded people. In a global society, that can mean IRL or virtually.
When journalists discover metaverses that feel like ghost towns, it’s usually because there aren’t enough engaging experiences. Typically, the platform is creating too much friction in building and hosting them. It’s not enough to have brands putting on momentary events, you need to allow anybody to build, explore, and gather. Selling plots of virtual land has never made sense, if you want to buy into a metaverse NFT, the best way to ensure value is to invest in a community.
Make It Accessible For Everyone
It’s important to meet people where they are comfortable when it comes to crypto and decentralization. Spatial allows users to token gate Spaces and connect their wallets, but if you don’t want to touch crypto you never have to. Want to sell and buy NFTs, you can host a gallery. Think NFTs are a joke? Okay, come do some karaoke or lecture to your students. Spatial is for everyone.
Spatial has communities for education, mindfulness, specific currencies, artist collectives, and more. Nintendo’s greatest-selling game of all time is Animal Crossing, where you build and socialize without aim. Not to mention similar tropes of The Sims or Second Life. The metaverse is not a game, still, being a part of it is incredibly fun — with colleagues or newly made friends.
A huge driving factor of our diverse and healthy usage is that Spatial is free, anyone can log in, set up their avatar and profile, then start creating their Spaces. These Spaces are not on a grid but part of an equanimous solar system of galleries and imagined worlds. You can pull in 3D models, NFTs, Jpegs, videos, screen share, or whatever you want to make it feel like yours. Then invite people.
Build Your Community
9 times out of 10 if people are asked to enter any room in Spatial they are going to choose the one that has a bunch of people in it. Just like if you’re walking around deciding on a restaurant or bar, you’re not going to jump into the totally deserted one. We consider the most valuable and important action on our platform to be the moment a user invites others to join them. Spatial released a feature called “Go Live”, a simple concept that gives people who follow you or have loved your Space a notification to come join you. It's also then visible on the front page of the site while you’re Live to welcome new explorers - encouraging togetherness. Perhaps it is our XR collaboration roots that give us this togetherness-first perspective.
Intentionally Make It Useful
It’s become officially impossible to keep up with how many metaverses there are now. The ones I keep my eye on are the ones that give people a reason to be there. VR Chat and AltSpace, which some may not consider metaverses, have an incredible stream of events happening constantly.
I put the below visual in an internal presentation I gave a couple of months ago. As soon as I saw how many of our Spatians highlighted the people on our platform, I chose to make the word cloud a heart. My slide read: The people in a Space and the experience they share is what gives Spatial value. People are meaning makers, without meetings and community, the metaverse is meaningless.
People Bring The Metaverse To Life
There was a time I thought the metaverse architects were the backbone of the metaverse, and to some degree that is true. A talented architect can influence how people feel and act in a space, but they alone do not bring it to life. As much as Spatial loves working with big brands such as Vogue or McDonald’s, we also benefit from the fantastic individuals hosting continuous weekly events on our platform, cultivating a rapidly growing community.
There are more than 4 million minutes spent in Spatial every week. The more meaningful and ripe with connection those minutes are, the more likely people are to come back. Sure, the capital M perfect Metaverse may not exist, but that does not mean that all platforms are barren wastelands lacking product market fit.
It takes several different parties to build a successful metaverse. Spatial has a core ecosystem of 3D world builders, experience hosts, and explorers. I’d extrapolate that if any platform is missing a piece of this puzzle it will feel lonely. How quickly can you get a lonely person to speak with someone else or feel like they are a part of something? Does the space they are doing that in inspire awe? Is there any shared ritual or form of facilitation? Food for thought.