The Future of Virtual Events

by The Metaverse, Virtual Events

“Necessity is the mother of invention” – The sophistication of virtual events today undoubtedly owes its success to their heightened importance. As lockdowns and social distancing policies echoed around the world during the last year, we quickly developed a need for more virtual connection. Though it began as an effort to adapt to a new situation, the benefits of these digital interactions began to show themselves. The events don’t require expensive travel costs (both economic and environmental), they can be attended by more people and ultimately they are much easier to set up logistically. A number of companies such as Hopin and Zoom have seen huge investment  in continued development of their infrastructure for future events, indicating that they are certainly here to stay.

Creating seamless interactions within a persistent world has been a key objective in this development, so as to replicate the characteristics of a real event. Participants may even have avatars that occupy a space in which they can move and interact with booths and each other. This extended well beyond corporate events to even virtual concerts with such artists as Travis Scott and Lil Nas X. The latter of these music stars performed his show in Roblox, which has quickly become a key driver of the Metaverse in its huge popularity for both games and socialising.

Gaming engines and platforms have long been advancing the technology behind simulating events, with particularly multiplayer games of course sharing the vastly the same technological requirements. Naturally, this is why the highly mature and specialised features of engines like Unreal are so popular in a number of industries outside of gaming. What perhaps people didn’t expect, was that games themselves like Fortnite and Roblox would begin to morph well beyond the gaming experiences that they were originally designed for. Suddenly people flock to these gameworlds simply for the act of hanging out and socialising. This surge in interest has been hugely reflected financially, with the concept of Metaverse gaining massive investment recently.

Fashion, sports and even art are all seeing the potential in the development of the Metaverse. With more and more people gathering and interacting, there’s a natural opportunity for sponsorship and advertising for a number of companies. Animal Crossing, for example, owed its huge boost in sales to the pandemic. The game is a ‘social simulation’ that involves people gathering items, fishing, farming and ultimately customising their island, which can be visited by other players. Seeing this huge social presence, companies such as Gucci and KFC capitalised on it by producing their own islands. Players could come and visit, and even caim a real life reward based on completing an activity on the island. In this way, the Metaverse is perhaps one the biggest emerging marketing channels.

But while technology has quickly adapted to the needs of the Metaverse, in one aspect it remains limited, ultimately reducing the overall immersion of experiences. Simulating large numbers of clients in a persistent world remains a difficult task in regard to compute power. While cloud based models offer part of the solution, the technology stack is outdated and struggles to provide sufficient scalability. To pick an example, while boasting a figure of 12 million attendees, the Fortnite event that Travis Scott performed in was in fact multi-sharded, where each world that you were placed in contained only around 50 participants. So despite our acceleration in providing realistic virtual experiences, one area we seem to be seriously lacking in is scale.

It seems it could be the final piece in the puzzle then, for social simulations to reflect the true size of the real world and those huge in person events that we all miss so dearly. But rather than nostalgically recreating our history, perhaps the potential that waits in the Metaverse is even better. With the power available in distributed systems, the future of virtual events won’t be as limited as our physical world. Enabling this will require a new distributed model that can scale dynamically and smash through the previously limited number of connected clients and devices. Discover the limitless potential of Aether Engine and its unparalleled scale here.