Metaverse: revolution or involution?

Luca Innocenzi
6 min

Investors and companies bet on this parallel universe, we understand what it is and what awaits us in the future.

What is the metaverse?

A revolution, as it is hailed by many? Or is it, as its opponents claim, just an attempt to revive old experiments (how many of you remember Second Life?) with more modern and immersive technologies to save platforms that are in decline?

That's a complex question that we may not be able to answer with certainty for some time.

Nonetheless, investors and companies are already betting on this "parallel universe," attaching great expectations to it and moving significant volumes of investment in this direction. However, to an even lesser extent than predicted by many analysts: This has weighed heavily on the balance sheets of Meta and other tech giants in recent months.

Metaverse: what it is and what it represents today

To find out more about the subject, I immediately thought of asking the one and only  who should know everything. Or almost. I am speaking about Chat GPT-3. 

Indeed, it appealed to me to confront the most famous artificial intelligence with such a question. I felt a thrill, who knows, perhaps similar to the feeling the ancients must have had when they asked the oracles to predict their future.

So here is the answer I received from Chat GPT-3, our contemporary Tiresias:

"The metaverse is a term that describes a shared, immersive virtual reality experience in which users can interact with each other and with a simulated virtual environment in real time. The metaverse concept was first introduced in the science fiction novel "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson in 1992 and subsequently developed by several technology companies.

The metaverse is considered the future of the online experience and could revolutionize the way people interact and create digital content. Some of the common features of the metaverse include the ability to create personalized avatars, interact with other users in real time, explore virtual worlds, participate in events and create and share content.

The metaverse can have many applications, such as online games, virtual social networks, learning and training environments, collaborative work environments and more. However, at the moment the metaverse is still under development and there is still no unambiguous definition of what it is or should be."

Nothing so unexpected, except perhaps the final terse statement: "...there is still no unambiguous definition of what it is or should be."

So let us analyze the phenomenon.

Metaverse and Brands: a real opportunity?

As presented in Chat GPT's narrative, the Metaverse represents an enormous potential for enterprises. We would be dealing with a completely new communication and marketing channel, a global agora through which (and within which) we can reach consumers in real time and without spatial barriers.

Creating immersive and engaging experiences for customers that allow them to experience products and services in virtual contexts that closely resemble plausible parallel realities would become a reality and lead to overcoming the concept of omnichannel.

For example, a clothing brand could set up a virtual showroom where users can try on clothes while sitting comfortably in their living room, supported by avatars or virtual assistants. The purchase could then be completed simply through the e-commerce website.

Given the advances that have been made recently, artificial intelligence could even be used to let people perceive scent trails while shopping, creating a multisensory experience.

There are other aspects to be considered. 

The metaverse opens up to us an almost completely unexplored world, that of selling virtual products.

What does it mean?

In the metaverse, companies can produce and sell digital products such as virtual clothing, furniture or avatar accessories with no equals in the real world.Even the real estate industry is increasingly involved in selling virtual 'rooms' in the metaverse.

This could be a new source of revenue with a high profit margin (think of the cost of 'not producing' a product that does not actually exist) and an innovative way to target customers and expand audiences thanks to lower entry prices compared to real products.

I envision virtual product sales as a new approach to “masstige” enabled by augmented reality, AI, and Metaverse-related platform technology.)

Brand collaborations would also open up to new and infinite combinations. For example, it would be possible to open virtual co-branded stores where products could be sold worldwide. And all this with vanishingly small investments compared to opening physical, temporary stores

Many B2B players who have been reluctant to enter the digital arena may become excited about doing business online again precisely because of the benefits that would come from building relationships with institutional customers in 'meta-physical' contexts without barriers and spatial constraints.

In short, we would be dealing with a universe of infinite and unexplored possibilities that can grow and evolve inexorably thanks to technology.

However, the metaverse requires a significant investment of time and resources for organizations to create content, develop specific capabilities, and organize themselves to operate in this environment. This may limit participation in the metaverse for smaller companies or those that have not had significant e-commerce and omnichannel expertise to date

What are the risks of the Metaverse?

But what risks does Chat GPT-3 claim in that last sentence "there is still no unambiguous definition of what it is or should be”?

A major danger is undoubtedly the lack of regulation and security in the virtual environment. This could lead to violation of customer privacy, loss of sensitive data, or even abuse and violence in various forms.

Back in February 2022, when the Metaverse made its official debut, a sexual assault on a female researcher was reported. It is estimated that every seven minutes a "violent" content is posted to the Metaverse, as analyzed by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, whose excellent and interesting work I recommend all readers to follow closely (here is an interesting, detailed study on this topic: https://counterhate.com/research/facebooks-metaverse/#about)

To avoid these and other risks, companies should seek to work with trusted, high-level partners and invest in appropriate security measures to protect their customers' data and safety. All of these factors raise the bar for the investments needed to adapt to this new environment and make the barriers to entry high.


In summary, the metaverse offers companies opportunities that may have never been explored before to interact with customers in engaging ways. Companies that understand how to consciously, responsibly, and competently invest in strategies that leverage these opportunities could very quickly gain a significant competitive advantage in the digital media, CRM, and sales and attract new audiences among the consumers of the future, i.e., GEN Y and GEN Z.

But, to paraphrase Graham Greene, what about the human factor?

We only ever talk about corporate and business perspectives, about influencing the way we think about e-commerce and omnichannel, social media marketing and digital marketing as a whole, but what impact will the metaverse have on our relationships, far beyond the way we approach the process of buying and selecting products and services?

Is the metaverse the Lüneburg variation, dooming us to a dystopian future - or saving us from it?

We are living in a difficult historical period that some experts call the 'multi crisis" and that is perhaps more reminiscent of the 1930s than we realize. Reality is not pleasant, and often escape from it seems to be the only alternative to fear and unhappiness, especially for young people who are afraid of uncertainty and the future that awaits them.

The metaverse, which has its roots in the world of games, could provide another escape route from the present, a scenic fiction in which another, imaginary life could take place. Disinterest in what is happening in the one world we have would become complete, the ultimate disconnection

This is the factor that frightens me most about the metaverse. Not so much its potential as a disruptive force for marketing and sales, but its impact on all of our lives.

So, what is the metaverse?

I leave the answer or the search for an answer to you.

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