All new technologies come with their challenges. Because new technologies are unique not just to consumers but also to developers. And before the masses adopt the tech, developers have to figure out solutions for most of these problems.
Consider Android, for example. Numerous devices across multiple manufacturers run on different Android operating system versions. So, one of the Android developer’s chief challenges was making their products compatible across various devices.
Along a similar line, another upcoming technology, the metaverse, is also plagued with challenges the technology’s developers have to face:
The metaverse is a virtual world that will be an alternate reality to the real world. A precise definition is impossible as it varies from one developer to the next.
More assured is that certain technologies will play a role in the metaverse. For example, virtual reality will be technology that transports you to a virtual world. Meanwhile, NFT and blockchain will be vital for proof of ownership and decentralization.
But as mentioned before, people are still figuring out the basics of the metaverse. Hence, there are a lot of development challenges.
The metaverse is an open world (like the internet) that connects people worldwide.
The metaverse envisioned by companies such as Meta (formerly Facebook) is a closed garden. Under this vision, it will be in the hands of a few tech giants. Each metaverse game development company would have its walled gardens with services, products, and experiences. It would be disconnected from the services of other companies.
So, making the metaverse interoperable as per the original vision of a free and open metaverse is a challenge. It requires the development of interoperability standards that help developers make metaverse experiences accessible across various platforms, like how HTML5 made the web accessible regardless of the platform people browse it from.
These standards would prevent power from being consolidated among a few tech giants. Instead, it would return the metaverse to the end users.
There are several development challenges for VR in the metaverse.
First comes the limitations of today’s VR headsets. Most of today’s VR headsets are not accessible to the average consumer. High prices and fewer use cases make the non-tech-savvy audience stay away from VR headsets.
But the metaverse is expected to be a virtual world for everyone. So if most people stay away from it, it will never come to fruition as we hope.
However, VR experts claim this limitation of accessibility will be over soon. They cite the example of smartphones, which were expensive and non-accessible in the early stages but eventually became widespread, and claim VR would also follow the same path.
The second challenge is related to the VR experience itself. When you use VR headsets for extended periods, it causes problems like nausea and eye strain. Again, this is because of the disconnect between information received from different senses.
Users must use VR headsets for long periods to immerse themselves in the metaverse. So, the current generation of VR headsets has to evolve to support usage for an extended duration without causing discomfort.
The third and final challenge is VR user-friendliness. Current VR headsets are clunky, weigh down our faces, and cause the wearer discomfort. Manufacturers have understood this and are trying to make the devices more lightweight.
Until then, metaverse game development and app development companies would have to make do with a user base that is comfortable with the current generation of headsets.
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There exists a fear of tech addiction in our culture at the moment. Social media and games (such as MMOs and MOBAs) are accused of being addicted to adversely affecting people’s lives.
Although the jury is still out on whether these concerns are valid in the first place, one cannot ignore that similar problems exist for the metaverse.
The chief concern is how the metaverse blurs the line between the digital and real world. As a result, people might start to prefer the short-term gratification that virtual experiences offer and prioritize them over real-world experiences. This worry is echoed by many science fiction authors who have written about the metaverse.
So, developers have to take precautions against possible addiction. Companies should create metaverses that help people easily disconnect from the virtual world when required and reconnect with the real world.
Many privacy concerns about social media have arisen in the past few years. Scandals such as Cambridge Analytica have shed light on how much data tech companies like Google and Facebook have on regular consumers.
It has led to criticism of the ad-based economy on which the internet is currently based. It has even led to legislation such as the GDPR to hold tech companies accountable for improper usage of user data.
With the metaverse, privacy concerns would be more complicated. VR devices collect far more data than smartphones. For example, companies can get information on user eye movements, biometrics, and physiological responses. Some of these identifiers would be unique identifiers.
Tech companies collect such data to personalize user experiences based on individual preferences. But the potential ramifications of this are nonetheless worrisome.
Because in the wrong hands, the data would lead to loss of wealth and goodwill of both people and companies. It would expose private information about people.
Therefore, to serve a better experience, developers have to improve the privacy features of metaverse games and applications. The metaverse should be a space where both user rights and data are safe.
Cyberbullying is an issue that is plaguing everyone. Unfortunately, it causes immeasurable damage to the victims.
In the metaverse, the ramifications of cyberbullying would be much worse. Because bullying experienced in the metaverse would feel more personal as the person would be completely immersed in the virtual world. The suspension of disbelief would make threats feel as natural as experienced in the physical world.
The situation is worse for kids. Distressing events in the metaverse can do them more harm than such events do for adults.
So, metaverse developers must monitor and ensure the spaces within their metaverse are safe. In addition, there should be effective rules and restrictions that prevent the occurrence of bullying.
NFTs and blockchain technology are central to the metaverse.
However, blockchain technology has come under fire for energy consumption. In a year, Bitcoin uses 150 terra-watt hours of energy, roughly equivalent to Argentina’s energy consumption. Similarly, Ethereum uses 112 terra-watts of energy a year.
People are demanding energy-saving solutions in the wake of depleting fossil fuels and global warming. Hence, overcoming this challenge would be necessary for materializing the metaverse.
The good news here is that there is progress being made. Ethereum, for instance, has switched from a proof-of-work model to a proof-of-stake model to reduce energy needs. This move, called ‘The Merge,’ is expected to minimize Ethereum’s consumption by 99.5%.
People worldwide are eagerly looking forward to the popularization of the metaverse. People expect it to become a place to socialize, have fun, and have experiences not possible in the real world.
However, the challenges that metaverse development services providers have is vast. Developers must overcome the challenges in this article and many others to make the metaverse a reality.
But once that happens, our reality will change forever for the better.
Juego Studios is a top game development company. We have a team of top game developers who use game engines such as Unity and Unreal to develop metaverse games and experiences that are compatible across platforms.