In Part 1 of this two-part series on the future of the metaverse, we looked at the challenges platforms are currently facing with retaining metaverse users and why many metaverse failures stem from low concurrent user numbers. That has made unpopulated worlds unenjoyable for users who mostly come to the metaverse for social interaction.
In this second installment, we look at what isn’t working as a strategy to avoid the dreaded Metaverse User Spiral, where losing users due to empty worlds causes user loss to accelerate because the worlds become even more empty. We’ll also explore how leveraging metaverse technology strategically could make a difference.
Metaverse user retention ‘solutions’ that aren’t working
So, how are metaverse platforms solving for the Metaverse User Spiral? There are a number of strategies that metaverse developments are trying to stop or avoid the loss of users – most of which only partially solve the problem they’re trying to address. Or fail entirely.
Play-to-earn or other metaverse user rewards
Many blockchain games offer play-to-earn benefits where players are awarded crypto or non fungible tokens (NFTs) as they progress through a game or as a reward for frequent play. These assets can then be sold on exchanges. Other metaverse experiences gamify and reward player retention and session length to improve these key metaverse statistics. The idea is that by rewarding players, they’ll play longer and more often, improving concurrent metaverse user numbers and the game experience.
But play-to-earn games have stumbled when it comes to retaining users with incentives alone. User numbers have gone down considerably since their peak with the once popular platform Axie Infinity losing 92% of its value. The games that still have active user bases are often the ones that are most fun to play, suggesting that these metaverse user incentives, ultimately, have little effect.
Secret AI-bot players
AI-powered NPCs aren’t a new thing, they’ve always been part of gaming experiences. Unsurprisingly, the traditional AI NPC is a part of many metaverse developments. They help ensure that the game world or metaverse world looks populated or that you can match with another player to play against quickly when you enter a lobby.
The problem is that they often don’t tell you that you’re playing against bots and the bot play isn’t always high caliber, making beating a player you suspect is a bot less satisfying. Bots also don’t offer the same social appeal as having more other players in open worlds – you often can’t carry on a conversation with them.
Introducing new games, regions, or metaverse technology hardware
Another strategy for struggling platforms is to introduce new experiences or hardware, hoping new metaverse technology or experiences will reinvigorate your user base. But if your current experience isn’t sparking joy among your players due to unpopulated worlds adding new experiences that thin your concurrent users out across your world or developing cool metaverse technologies that will make the experience of your empty world clearer or more realized won’t likely help.
Events to boost metaverse statistics
Creating in-world events can be a great way to create buzz, earn media attention, and generate an influx of new metaverse users. Decentraland’s Fashion Week and Virtual Sotheby’s Art Auction are two examples of in-world events that created a lot of buzz. Other examples are metaverse concerts such as DJ David Guetta and Young Thug in Horizon Worlds. But what many platforms who have attempted these have found is that they see a short-term or negligible impact on their user numbers and generate headline grabbing metaverse statistics rather than long-term growth. People try out their world but leave because it’s unpopulated.
How one metaverse technology can stop (or avoid) the Metaverse User Spiral
Since many of the common solutions platforms try to stop or avoid the Metaverse User Spiral and other problems with the metaverse don’t work, you might be wondering if every metaverse platform is doomed to experience it or if a platform is unable to reverse it once it starts. Thankfully, that answer is no. The future of the metaverse is still bright.
The solution to the user spiral problem is to give metaverse users what they want – social interaction. But how can you do that when you’re losing users and that’s causing you to… lose even more users? There we are with that chicken and egg problem again.
Rather than paying users to stick around like play-to-earn or rewards based games, metaverse developments can populate their worlds with highly intelligent AI characters like Inworld’s who can have deeply social and engaging interactions with users when concurrent users are low.
How AI characters can help solve many of the problems of the metaverse
Adding AI characters to your metaverse development helps replicate the highly social interaction that metaverse users love – even when concurrent user numbers are low. This creates a consistent experience for users. They know what to expect each time they log on rather than making their experience depending on who’s online.
Metaverse developments can deploy AI characters as:
- Informative metaverse onboarding guides
- Amusing and funny avatars that fit your metaverse world
- Playful and fun characters designed to interact with other players
- Helpful merchants and salespeople
- Knowledgeable guides who show people your world
- Engaging corporate brand ambassadors
Imagine an onboarding guide who can answer any question about your world and give new users a tour. Or imagine creating orcs, elves, or unicorns to populate your open world fantasy metaverse that have fully realized inner lives and backstories. Want an AI character who will playfully heckle or encourage players while commenting on their game play? Or a corporate brand ambassador who also loves and knows everything about music? With Inworld’s metaverse technology, it’s possible.
The future of the metaverse needs to be… populated
At Inworld, we create the brains to power engaging characters that will surprise and delight metaverse users. Our characters can be the world’s number one expert on a sports team or know all your world’s history or lore by heart. They can be funny, endearing, brilliant, kind, evil, or utterly ridiculous. With Inworld, metaverse developments can create and add villains, heroes, historical figures, or just normal, everyday people into their worlds.
Chatting with an AI character who will listen to your problems, laugh at your jokes, or answer your pressing questions replicates the social nature many players find appealing on successful metaverse platforms.
In fact, intelligent AI characters can be even more entertaining. Adding them to your metaverse platform casts your users in the middle of an interactive digital world with any character you can imagine. Or that they can imagine – it’s easy to give your users the ability to create or customize their own AI characters to be their sidekicks, best friends, nemeses, or just their fellow users.
Inworld characters can also easily be integrated into any metaverse technologies and power any avatar you want to build for them. They are avatar agnostic and have integration with Unity, and Unreal Engine, as well as a Node.js SDK.
The solution to the current problems of the metaverse
The challenges that metaverse platforms are currently experiencing with low daily active users and concurrent users are just a road bump – they’re nowhere near spelling the end of the metaverse or widespread metaverse failure. What they’re pointing to is a need for a pivot in strategy around engaging and retaining users as metaverse platforms grow their user bases.
Replicating the dynamic social nature of metaverse platforms with high concurrent users is essential since it’s one of the main drivers for metaverse adoption, retention, and session length. Intelligent AI characters are an innovative metaverse technology that can be used to stop the Metaverse User Spiral – or avoid it entirely. And they can do this by making engaging with others in a metaverse world even more entertaining than just talking to other players.
Adopting Inworld’s characters gives a metaverse development an edge, not just on retaining users, but also on their competition. The future of the metaverse is bright. If we can address the current problems of the metaverse by deploying solutions that will actually work to boost metaverse user numbers, metaverse excitement and adoption will rebound.
What kinds of characters would you add to your metaverse platform? Contact us for a product demo and custom quote and we’ll help you imagine the possibilities.
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