What Is Metaverse Gaming? (Career Opportunities)

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Discover skills to work on metaverse games and jobs available in metaverse gaming companies. Learn about the emerging opportunities for gaming in the metaverse.

[Featured image] Metaverse game designer demonstrates an early graphic for a new game.

The term “metaverse” has become increasingly buzz-worthy in recent years, with the concept of immersive virtual experiences steadily growing traction across various sectors. Although there’s more to the metaverse than gaming, many experts—97 percent of those surveyed by EY—believe gaming plays a significant role in its creation [1]. By 2024, metaverse revenues will likely reach $800 billion, with more than half of that coming from the gaming industry [2]. If you’re interested in this field, learn more about gaming in the metaverse, potential careers, and how to create games. 

What is gaming in the metaverse?

You may find a certain amount of gamification in nearly every aspect of the metaverse. It combines immersive, interconnected, interactive networks and virtual spaces. While it has many uses, gaming has gained massive popularity within the metaverse. 

The metaverse also has gaming functionality where users can interact in a competitive environment. The industry has rapidly expanded as more users and gaming companies join the metaverse. Some gamers and experts contend that gaming in the metaverse could be the future with its 360-degree perspectives and capability to immerse you in action.

What does metaverse gaming look like?

You'll find yourself immersed in an alternative reality when you play games in the metaverse. Everyone on the 3-D network gets an avatar that replaces the traditional profile, and you use it to interact with others. Not only can you play within metaverse games, you can also meet other people and make connections that go beyond the screen.

Metaverse gaming brings a community of individuals together to compete in online games. You could play solo games against artificial intelligence or other players. Users can even connect with friends to game, socialize, or experience other adventures. Developers at Roblox, Rec Room, and Minecraft have deployed functionality for their games to use the metaverse architecture. 

Types of metaverse gaming

Some day, there could be a single metaverse that connects everything. Today, every game creates its own metaverse you access via the internet. The way it looks and operates is entirely up to its creators. Metaverse gaming falls into one of the following main types based on its architecture:  

  • Traditional centralized metaverse: This type of metaverse operates on a centralized framework instead of integrating blockchain into the framework. Organizations operate and maintain these virtual worlds by storing user data and activity. Examples include Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite. 

  • Centralized blockchain metaverse: Blockchain metaverses are virtual worlds where users can use non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other digital assets to exchange and create individual economies within the community. Earth2 and the virtual world that Meta is striving to develop are two prime examples of this type of metaverse. 

  • Decentralized blockchain metaverse: These platforms aim to create a community dynamic with an equal power balance. While centralized blockchain metaverses aim to distribute wealth from the top down, these metaverses operate by “play-to-earn” philosophies. This gives users economic and governing power. Examples include Axie Infinity and Decentraland. 

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Instead of releasing completely new versions, games that fall into the game-as-a-platform category get released and offer continual updates to keep the content from growing stale. This type of metaverse game provides you with long-term adventures designed for ongoing play.

Games-as-a-platform allows creators to strategically extend the life of a game. It provides a base-level game that goes through massive updates to affect the playing dynamics. Other categories would release several versions of the game to achieve similar effects. Examples of games-as-a-platform include World of Warcraft, and Fortnite, which have developers constantly adding updates instead of releasing new editions and versions of the same games.

Social gaming

Social gaming is a new and growing industry within online gaming. It includes several gaming categories, including multiplayer games, which inherently implement an element of sociability with players playing against each other and communicating. These immersive games encourage you to interact with other players inside and outside the game. You can access them on various platforms, including computers, mobile devices, and game consoles.

Social games create virtual environments functioning as small metaverses where players can play, interact, and enjoy virtual life. Games like Second Life, Fortnite, and Sims are popular examples.

Play-to-earn

Play-to-earn games are a fast-growing game type that allows players to earn in-game items and digital assets that have real-world value. You can find these items by completing in-game tasks and missions or beating other players and progressing through the game. The assets you can earn may take the form of crypto tokens, virtual land, and in-game items stored on the blockchain. 

Portable game assets

The metaverse offers the possibility to use weapons and treasures from one game to another. Interoperable architecture and functionality allow you to customize and personalize avatars and in-game items. This functionality also enables you to transfer game items to other digital worlds and use them in different environments. 

Mixed reality experience

Mixed reality allows you to interact simultaneously with physical and virtual items and environments. It uses advanced technology, sensors on cameras, and virtual reality interfaces to bring real-world and digital elements together for a game-changing experience. Industries other than gaming could use similar technology, including virtual travel, health care, and entertainment. 

Technologies that power metaverse gaming

Various technologies come together to help power the games offering an immersive virtual experience. Some of the leading technologies include:

Each plays a unique role in shaping metaverse gaming and offers potential job opportunities that vary depending on current openings.    

Artificial intelligence

AI is among the most critical technologies. It’s used to help create interactive interfaces, monitor servers, and support smart responses. Common AI career paths and their US base salary include working as:

  • Data scientists: $103,058 [3]

  • Machine learning engineers: $108,279 [4]

  • Algorithm engineers: $123,876 [5]

  • Computer vision engineers: $111,127 [6]

AR and VR technologies

AR and VR technologies are integral to building immersive metaverse gaming platforms and applications. Career options and US base salaries include:

Blockchain and cryptocurrency

Decentralized metaverse applications rely on blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. These technologies allow you to make payments within the virtual world. Roles you might think of pursuing, and their US base salaries include:

Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT helps connect the physical world with the internet using devices like sensors, which send and receive information. The IoT is the technology behind items like smart thermostats and voice-activated devices. It's also essential for collecting data from the real world to use in metaverse gaming to create accurate virtual environments. Potential career fields include development, network engineering, and security.

Read more: What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? With Examples

3-D reconstruction

3-D reconstruction technologies have been used in other industries, including real estate, to help create applications such as virtual tours. In metaverse gaming, 3-D reconstruction allows you to create virtual environments that closely mirror the real world for optimal user experiences. Common career options may include:

  • Designers

  • Animators

  • Software engineers 

  • Computer vision engineer

Major companies and well-known organizations are investing substantially in research and development, design, and commercialization of metaverse platforms and applications. These companies are poised to lead the charge into the future of metaverse gaming. They're also a rich resource of potential career opportunities if you want to break into this field.

Decentraland

Decentraland is a decentralized, blockchain-based platform that develops applications and tools for creating games and other content. It launched in February 2020 and held the distinction of being the metaverse's first blockchain-powered digital universe. If you work at Decentraland, you could be involved in various aspects of metaverse gaming. Examples include VR, 3D design, game design, and cryptocurrencies.

Sandbox

The Sandbox was built on Ethereum's blockchain. It's a metaverse platform with various decentralized plots of land where you can develop, buy, and sell real estate to earn virtual assets. It allows players to create products and earn tokens, including building play-to-earn games on your plot of land. Potential career opportunities with Sandbox range from marketing and talent sourcing to more technical roles such as:

  • 3-C game programming

  • Blockchain development

  • Backend and frontend development

  • Game and experience design 

Epic Games

Epic Games is the company behind Fortnite. It invests heavily in the metaverse, and many people regard Epic as one of the metaverse's key players moving forward. If you work here, you might design games like Rocket League, Fall Guys, or Fortnite. You might work on infrastructure-oriented applications like the 3-D graphics engine, Unreal Engine.

Meta (Facebook)

Investing in the metaverse has been so important to Facebook that it changed its name. Intending to shift to full immersion in the metaverse within the next few years, Meta invested billions of dollars. It also hired a thousand new workers to develop metaverse assets and infrastructure. If you work here, you might work on engineering and designing virtual worlds like Meta's Horizon Worlds, where you can play and socialize. You might also work in the following:

  • Research and development

  • AI engineering

  • AR/VR design and development

Microsoft

Microsoft is developing multiple metaverse applications to integrate with Mesh, including an AR chipset designed to create more seamless metaverse integrations. The company also secured a substantial multibillion-dollar deal for developing Microsoft-backed metaverse games. Potential job opportunities may include:

  • Business development

  • Game design

  • Software engineering

  • Product development

Roblox

Roblox has already created its own metaverse that you can use today, joining the more than 40 million people who explore the virtual world daily [14]. In addition to its distinction as one of the first virtual worlds you can enjoy without using a VR headset, Roblox continues investing in creating simple, accessible metaverse gaming options. If you pursue a job with Roblox, you could work in a metaverse-focused position or one that's metaverse adjacent, such as marketing or accounting. Common jobs include: 

  • Data engineering

  • Machine learning platform engineering

  • Data science

  • Product management

Niantic

The company behind Pokemon Go continues developing and designing games and platforms to improve the user experience in gaming and in the metaverse. In 2022, it raised substantial funds to build a real-world metaverse with the aspiration of merging the virtual and physical experiences. 

If you work at this company that bills itself as the "world's only planet-scale AR platform," you might explore emerging markets and help with business development, or you could take a creative role as a technical artist or user experience designer. Software engineers, accounting managers, and securing engineers are a few other potential roles to consider, along with marketing and operations management.

Examples of metaverse gaming 

You can already play various games in the metaverse. If you’re thinking of building a career around metaverse gaming, you should become familiar with the major players in the industry. 

Alien Worlds

Alien Worlds is a play-to-earn game featuring a six-world metaverse. Each world within the game has 500 plots of land. You can earn “trilium” tokens by owning land, mining, or through the Binance Smart Chain. Players can accumulate and sell in-game items by getting achievements and progressing through the game. 

Axie Infinity

This Pokemon-inspired game debuted in 2018 and lets you collect, trade, breed, and raise Axies. These fantasy creatures can have babies, and you can customize them with more than 500 body parts. Axie Infinity is a popular NFT game powered by blockchain technology.

Chain of Alliance

Chain of Alliance is a role-playing strategy game that lets you customize monsters, creating teams with as many as eight characters for each round. The game combines fantasy and science fiction elements where players can go on adventures and battle using their NFT avatars and special in-game items. 

Decentraland

Decentraland is a blockchain-based virtual world that bills itself as one of the first of its kind. Players own this metaverse game, which encourages participants to run virtual worlds within the game. Users can buy and sell digital real estate, play games, and find other items worth real value in this unique online community. You can earn MANA cryptocurrency through various activities, including renting lots you own, organizing events, and selling tickets.

Farmers World

Farmers World is an online game that lets you farm, mine, and cultivate food, wood, and gold. You can exchange the items on the game’s marketplace and acquire NFT land plots to explore and extract resources from the land. Unlike some other metaverse games, there's no storyline to follow. Instead, its creators set it in an Amazonian civilization that you build by mining gold, catching fish, raising NFT animals, and chopping wood. 

Krystopia

If you enjoy mazes and puzzles you might like playing Krystopia, a Chromia blockchain-based game that mixes puzzle-solving with adventures. You can explore and solve puzzles while navigating a mystical land full of treasures and secrets. This game involves an in-game economy where players get rewarded for conquests.

Sandbox

The Sandbox is an open-platform game built upon the Ethereum framework. It lets you own land that gets stored as an NFT. You can create special locations, design games, and even monetize your land to profit from users visiting. During the game, you can create vehicles, avatars, and objects using an in-game 3D modeling tool and export those creations to the marketplace for sale. There's also an in-game game maker that lets you develop games without having to do any coding.

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go is arguably one of the most notable AR games in gaming and the inspiration behind other metaverse games like Axie Infinity. NFT pokemon cards are available as digital assets backed by real physical cards. These cards are now being minted on the blockchain and acquired and sold as NFTs. 

What skills do you need to work in metaverse gaming?

If you’re interested in development, game design, and other aspects of working within the metaverse, you will need various technical skills and knowledge. Industry professionals should be proficient in several areas, including: 

  • Proficiency in programming languages like Java, Swift, and Python

  • Being able to communicate as well as constantly learning and adapting to the rapidly changing trends and environment of virtual assets 

  • Additional front-end or back-end development skills like animation, graphics, and design

  • Ability to visualize how a product should look and plan for aesthetics and user experience

Degrees and qualifications for metaverse gaming

Bachelor’s degrees in computer science, cybersecurity, graphic design, animation, or art are all solid options if you want to get into the world of metaverse gaming. Metaverse games are equal parts technology, art, and graphics. You can decide which side of metaverse production you want to pursue according to your skills and preferences.  

E-commerce opportunities in metaverse gaming

Many of the virtual worlds incorporate stores and marketplaces where you can buy and sell items. It also gives you an opportunity to purchase items, participate in e-commerce and enjoy an intuitive shopping experience in virtual worlds. The metaverse has provided countless opportunities for businesses to generate revenue. Users can monetize their activities in the metaverse, and it has generally opened up a whole new market for exploration.

Is metaverse gaming the future of gaming?

Although the future remains to be seen, the metaverse does have the potential to disrupt the gaming industry. It offers 360-degree perspectives and an immersive gaming experience that allows you to create your own virtual spaces and enjoy everything from concerts to sports to social connections within those spaces. As the metaverse grows, you’ll likely see its impact creating a ripple effect on the entire gaming industry, with increasing numbers of gamers looking for that immersive environment. 

Next steps

If metaverse gaming is an industry you’re interested in, consider taking courses and classes from top universities and institutions. On Coursera, you’ll find options like User Experience & Interaction Design for AR/VR/MR/XR from the University of Michigan or What is the Metaverse? from Meta to help build an understanding of the metaverse. 

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NFTs, Content Creation, Game Engines, Extended Reality, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

Article sources

1

EY. “Insights on the metaverse and the future of gaming, https://www.ey.com/en_us/tmt/what-s-possible-for-the-gaming-industry-in-the-next-dimension/chapter-3-insights-on-the-metaverse-and-the-future-of-gaming.” Accessed December 20, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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