The metaverse could contribute $3 trillion (€2.8 trillion) to the global GDP within a decade if it evolves in the same way mobile technology has in terms of adoption, according to new research.
The study, published by economic experts at international consulting firm Analysis Group, found that in Europe, an expansion of the virtual world could mean a contribution of 1.7 per cent - or $440 billion (€417 billion) - to the continent's economy in 10 years.
The report concludes that if the mass adoption of metaverse technology started in 2022, it would lead to a 2.8 per cent contribution to global GDP by 2031.
Akin to mobile technology, the metaverse is expected to have far-reaching applications to society: transforming economic sectors such as education, health care, manufacturing, job training, communications, entertainment, and retail.
The study adopted previous research done on breakthrough technology to properly gauge the potential of the metaverse.
Analysis was done by using prior successful technologies as a model - in terms of the rate of adoption by users and the impact on GDP - then applying that to the metaverse.
Researchers used mobile technology as an appropriate analog because of the similarities it shares with the metaverse, in particular, combining existing innovations to alter global technological and economic landscapes.
While it is still in its infancy, the metaverse in the future is envisioned to comprise an expansive network of digital spaces, enabled by other emerging tech such as argument reality, virtual reality, or mixed reality.
The analysis drew on academic literature which has studied the cycles of innovative technology, as well as publically available data relating to the adoption of mobile tech which assesses its impact.
Asia to reap the most benefits
According to the research, the Asia-Pacific region would benefit the most from the metaverse, at 2.3 per cent equating to $1.04 trillion (€993.9 billion) if adopted in 2022.
The region with the lowest contribution was Canada with 0.9 per cent of GDP after ten years, equating to $20 billion (€19.1 billion).
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg put the term "metaverse" into public discourse last year, changing his company name to "Meta" and announcing it was the future of both the Internet and his trillion-dollar social media company.
In previous years other companies such as Roblox, Nvidia, and Microsoft have also been building out virtual worlds with virtual or augmented reality tech.
Critics, however, have warned that the rapidly emerging technology could bring potential harm, especially for issues such as privacy, data hacking, desensitisation, and other health issues.