Exploring Metaverse Game Development: Components, Benefits, and Challenges

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Metaverse games break the mold of traditional gaming by offering social interaction and freedom to play, explore, create, earn and change the surrounding. Incorporating Web3 concepts like decentralization, blockchain technologies, and token-based economics let metaverse blur the line between physical and virtual spaces and provide a liberal ecosystem where user interests are the top priority. 

Metaverse game development benefits GameDev companies, helping them extend their user base and capitalize on new revenue streams. But challenges like creating in-game economies and shared virtual spaces can make it difficult to keep up with the development demands.

This article explains what makes the metaverse different from other gaming experiences, its benefits, and ways to enter this interconnected world. So let’s jump in.

The hype around metaverse game development

Metaverse technology has been around for some time, but the recent shift to a more digitalized economy brought the concept to the fore. According to global media analytics company Comscore, “metaverse” received 84,000 mentions on social media last year, reaching its peak when Facebook changed its name to Meta.

But Facebook isn’t the only company shifting its focus to the metaverse. Last year, Epic Games raised $1 billion to support its metaverse vision — a massive online playground for people to communicate with brands and each other. Fortune 500 giants like Alphabet, Microsoft, Disney, and Qualcomm also don’t lag far behind and have invested in metaverse development.

Bloomberg foresees that the metaverse will revolutionize life and enterprise in the next decade. Research shows games that successfully turn toward the metaverse can accelerate user engagement and grow their revenue. In fact, stepping into the metaverse presents video game makers with a $412.9 billion revenue opportunity.

Before we proceed, let’s see what’s driving the rapid expansion of metaverse games.

How does the metaverse differ from virtual games?

The core difference lies in the freedom offered by Web3 in game development. Unlike virtual games, with rules that set limits to players, metaverse games immerse users in virtual reality with interactions that feel almost like they’re occurring in the real world. This lets users participate in activities beyond gaming. Players can build virtual relationships, earn money, own and modify virtual spaces, and even create and buy assets. 

Metaverses also differ from “traditional” virtual reality games in that they consist of a network of interconnected virtual worlds. Virtual games limit what users can explore and how they interact with environments. In the metaverse, players can move between worlds and have unlimited choices and options for their experience. 

Another core difference is the role of data and data ownership in the metaverse. Thanks to blockchain and related technologies, players can rent, buy, and create digital assets and earn passive income in play-to-earn (P2E) games.

The last significant difference lies in accessibility. To play a typical virtual reality game, you need a VR headset and a controller. As for the metaverse, players don’t necessarily need VR or AR capabilities to access it — today’s games are primarily accessible through PCs, tablets, and phone interfaces.

What roles do blockchain, crypto, and NFTs play in the metaverse?

Metaverses would not be possible without decentralized ledger technology (DLT) and smart contract platforms like those built with blockchain technology. In the metaverse, NFTs and cryptos serve as the lifeblood of in-game economies. Here’s how blockchain, cryptos, and NFTs relate to the metaverse:

  • Blockchain technology lies at the heart of metaverse game development. Blockchain is the most common type of distributed ledger technology for recording peer-to-peer transactions. Blockchain facilitates decentralization by shifting control of crucial networks and services to users and developers. All this lets users benefit from blockchain’s high-end security, digital proof of ownership, value transfer, and immutability.
  • Crypto coins and fungible tokens let players perform commercial activities — exchange, buy, sell, and transfer the ownership of their assets.
  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are unique digital identifiers recorded in blockchain, representing assets like avatars, nature, architecture, and other objects that occupy the metaverse game environment. Thanks to metaverse NFT marketplaces, players can exchange and trade assets with verifiable proof of ownership. On top of that, NFTs can also serve to transfer ownership and digitally represent a person’s identity. 

In a nutshell, metaverse games run on blockchain and use NFTs and cryptocurrency to monetize and trade innovative decentralized assets.

Now that you know what metaverse games have under the hood, let’s learn what benefits they can bring to game development companies.

Benefits of metaverse game development

Metaverse games combine the most-wanted high-end technologies and present great potential to generate profit for companies in the gaming market. 

Here are the major benefits metaverses offer to GameDev companies.

Huge audience

According to consulting company Metaversed, in 2021, the virtual worlds in the metaverse had already attracted 400 million unique monthly active users. That’s like the whole population of the USA and the UK combined. The primary attractions are live, immersive, and extended reality, along with players’ ability to participate in the creation of their game environments and change it.

Commercial opportunities

Metaverse games go way beyond traditional gaming and offer creators limitless commercial opportunities. According to the Into the Metaverse report by Wunderman Thompson, global consumers assign high values to digital possessions. On average, users are willing to pay:

  • $76,000 or more for a digital house
  • $9,000 for an original digital art
  • $2,900 or more for a virtual designer handbag

Leading metaverse games earn revenue by selling virtual goods represented by NFTs and hosting virtual events. For example, Balenciaga and Epic Games joined forces to offer a clothing collection that Fortnite players could buy for their characters. And Roblox teamed up with Vans and Hyundai Motors in the fall of 2021 to create their own metaverse experiences.

High return-on-investments 

McKinsey recently reported that companies invested $120 billion to build metaverse technology and infrastructure in the first five months of 2022. No surprise, as the metaverse gaming market is growing at a rate of knots and earning a high ROI for investors.

Today’s metaverse games already bring in substantial revenue. For example, Axie Infinity, a Pokemon-inspired blockchain-based P2E game, has a current ROI of 103.8x. ROI opportunities will continue to grow as more users join the metaverse.

Market share

Statista found that playing games and socializing with friends in a virtual space are the most popular metaverse experiences that raise consumers’ interest today. Developing a metaverse game that combines social networks, advanced technologies, e-commerce, and gaming under one hood effectively responds to market demand and helps you grab more market share.

Immersiveness

According to a recent report by Google and Ipsos, the pandemic slowdown caused gamers to strive for social reconnection while gaming. Newzoo proved this vision, reporting that 70% of gamers played more when in-game social interactions were present.

Metaverse games meet this need by offering a safe space to play, socialize, and even contribute to a game’s evolution. All these activities make users spend more time participating in the in-game economy and generate value for other players.

If all these benefits sound tempting, let’s explore how you can access them by developing a metaverse game.

Steps to developing a metaverse game

Creating a game is a complex, nonlinear process requiring frequent revisions and concept adjustments. Even if your idea sounds fun and exciting, you can’t prove its value for sure until users play it. 

Here are the steps you need to take to bring your vision of a metaverse game to life.

Analyze the market

Researching the current market, including competitors, will give you a grasp of the types of games attracting the most investment and receiving the best response from gamers. Game development doesn’t happen overnight, so you should study upcoming trends and adjust or even entirely rethink your game concept accordingly.

Create a plan

Plan your future game mechanics by:

  • Creating a storyline
  • Developing characters and plot
  • Describing features
  • Defining admission and other fees

At this stage, it’s hard to imagine all the possible game mechanics, but don’t worry — the next steps will help refine your vision.

Prepare a storyboard

Storyboarding involves creating a collection of cards that show game scenes in logical order. They are essential to represent game characters, plot points, actions, gameplay functionality, tone, and more. Storyboarding helps spot potential gaps in the logic of the storyline and gameplay so that you can add plot points and extra gaming mechanisms as needed. Tools like Boords can make this task easier. 

Pick a game engine

A decent game engine serves as a platform for creating virtual worlds. Most likely, you’ll choose between 

  • Unreal, by Epic Games (e.g., Fortnite, Street Fighter 5)
  • Unity, by Unity Technology (e.g., Fall Guys, Pokemon Go)

Both game engines have vibrant communities, offer polished assets, and can render great 2D and photorealistic 3D graphics. 

Construct a virtual world

This step brings your game’s storyline to life. When building your metaverse game world, don’t forget to:

  • Use real-world cues to educate users
  • Follow the laws of physics (such as gravity) 
  • Define global architecture rules for future object creation

Constructing a realistic virtual world is costly. The good thing is that you don’t need to render all possible items — you can leave space and let your users craft objects on their own.

Prepare visual content, audio content, and fonts 

Visual content is what inhabits your metaverse world. It encompasses creating a base for game avatars and building game assets, objects, and non-player characters. High-quality content can pique players’ interest, while audio and fonts help infuse the right tone. You can use royalty-free libraries to find the right content for your game.

Integrate blockchain

Blockchain is a core facilitator in metaverse transactions. It ensures decentralization and regulates the collection of digital assets via NFTs, which record immutable data to provide digital proof of ownership and allows the exchange of value through crypto.

Today’s market offers over 1,000 blockchain platforms. Picking the right type for your game is essential because it affects the game’s security, scalability, and more. Blockchains like Ethereum, Solana, Polygon, and Avalanche provide excellent game experiences.

So now you come up to building blockchain infrastructure. To do it right, you must have provision for your infrastructure resources to support the current system and lay the foundation to perform at scale. Unity and Unreal provide a good feature stack to interact with Web3. But you can also supplement it by using various API’s and SDKs. 

Unity is easily compatible with most .Net libraries and open-source frameworks — for example, Nethereum for Ethereum or Solnet for Solana. With the Unreal engine, you can also directly interact with blockchains via several C++  SDKs like Cronos.

Another important step is creating smart contracts. They will boost your metaverse game safety,  help transfer NFTs, and customize settlements. This phase requires deep expertise since once you deploy the smart contract, you can’t change or rewrite it again. That’s where an experienced development company steps in.

Test and debug 

Continuous testing lets you spot bugs and inconsistencies early on and fix them in the course of development. In this step, it’s best to involve skilled QA engineers to perform the following testing:

  • Manual/repetitive testing according to a test plan, helps spot any game defects.
  • Exploratory testing (similar to real game playing) finds hidden problems.
  • Focus testing involves letting a focused group of users play your game and reporting any bugs they find.
  • Soak testing runs your game overnight and logs performance, frame rate, and memory usage.
  • Unit testing checks the reliability of the code.
  • Smoke testing proves the entire system is working as expected.

Once your metaverse game is developed and tested, it’s time to release it.

Harnessing the power of new technology can pose some challenges, and metaverse game development is no exception. 

Challenges of metaverse game development 

The metaverse world offers GameDev companies lots of possibilities and can make a lot of promises. However, like with all new technologies, you should be aware of some common challenges for metaverse game development.

Providing interoperability

Interoperability is indispensable for the metaverse concept. It gives users the freedom to move their virtual items and avatars between metaverse games. For instance, users can purchase a Decentraland skin and effortlessly use it in Fortnite, Roblox, or any other metaverse game.

To make this vision a reality, some of the most prominent metaverse platform creators united to launch the Open Metaverse Alliance For Web3 (OMA3). Their primary focus is to ensure virtual assets and services are highly interoperable between platforms and transparent to all communities. OMA3 offers benchmarks for enhancing cooperation among Web3 stakeholders. The consortium currently has twelve members and a waitlist of metaverse builders wanting to join.

Ensuring data privacy

Data privacy and security are always a concern, and metaverse game development has only raised the stakes. A recent study revealed that 33% of developers surveyed believed data privacy and security were among the most significant problems facing the metaverse. 

The reason is that metaverse games collect far more personal data than their predecessors. For instance, from users’ VR headsets, companies can access unique biometric data related to eye tracking, voice, iris, and facial scans. So if any data leakage occurs, it could potentially lead to ruining reputations or even leave players completely broke.

Dipping a toe into the metaverse will require companies to evolve security methods and ensure the safety of players’ identities and their possessions in the virtual world.

Implement token economies

Blockchain and NFT technologies let you integrate in-game and real economies. Your game’s usability and profitability depend on how you introduce, manage, exchange, and store tokens.

Setting it up right requires technical and financial choices about parameters like:

  • Supply (fixed or fluctuating)
  • Inflation model
  • Transaction fees
  • Governance
  • Staking
  • Token treasury management

Implementing a token economy also poses legal complexities. But don’t worry. An experienced partner like Unicsoft can help you find the best ways to overcome these challenges and make sure you’re fully equipped to dive into the metaverse gaming world.

Conclusion

“Metaverse games” are not just buzzwords; they signify a new reality blazing into today’s gaming world. Empowered by blockchain, smart contracts, cryptocurrency, and other Web3 advances, the metaverse provides gamers with unique immersive experiences that turn games into a life-like activity.

Unlike traditional virtual games, metaverse games are not limited to a single virtual world. They offer players a network of interconnected worlds where they can socialize, earn money, and alter their surroundings. 

For GameDev companies, metaverse game development brings limitless possibilities to stand out from competitors, attract new users, and add revenue streams. The market has just started to expand, so there’s still space to bring your own vision.
Setting up a metaverse is both challenging and full of opportunity. Partnering with an experienced development company like Unicsoft helps you create your metaspace while avoiding any roadblocks. Contact us and buckle up — Unicsoft will lead you to the metaworld.