It's the latest water-cooler buzzword that has our heads spinning -- the "metaverse." A surface-level skimming of the term unlocks a complex universe of modern technology propelled to sci-fi-like proportions. With some of the tallest names in Big Tech announcing their commitment to this next wave of VR-powered living, it stands to reason that the metaverse, however realized or un-realized it may be, is that next digitized horizon that humanity and humanity's devices have all set sail toward. But what if we told you that the metaverse has actually been around for longer than most of us think (albeit in much more primitive forms)? Since Facebook (now Meta) CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been building blueprints for Meta's future based on the company's intentions to massively expand what fragments of the metaverse currently exist, we've all been thinking a lot more about living our lives through a VR headset.
Netflix may be a TV show, movie and game streaming platform in the near future. According to Bloomberg, the company has hired Mike Verdu, a former Oculus and EA exec, as vice president of game development. Verdu was the VP of augmented and virtual reality games and content at Facebook, where he worked with developers for the Oculus Rift, Quest and Go. From 2017 to 2018, he was also the head of EA Mobile and oversaw the studios that worked on Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, SimCity BuildIt, Plants vs. Zombies and Sims Free Play, among others. The company will reportedly build out its gaming team in the coming months to be able to start offering games for streaming within the next year.
Netflix Inc., marking its first big move beyond TV shows and films, is planning an expansion into video games and has hired a former Electronic Arts Inc. and Facebook Inc. executive to lead the effort. Mike Verdu will join Netflix as vice president of game development, reporting to Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters, the company said on Wednesday. Verdu was previously Facebook's vice president in charge of working with developers to bring games and other content to Oculus virtual-reality headsets. The idea is to offer video games on Netflix's streaming platform within the next year, according to a person familiar with the situation. The games will appear alongside current fare as a new programming genre -- similar to what Netflix did with documentaries or stand-up specials.
You might not know this, but the metaverse is coming. Where you can live a life that expands on reality and can approach hyperrealism. I just took my next big step toward embracing it – and soon you may, too. Within a matter of minutes, I was reborn as a holographic avatar – a digital version of me – with the help of the Avatar Dimension technicians in northern Virginia, just west of the nation's capital. My virtual doppelgänger is ready to embark on digital adventures, be inserted into a video game, a movie, or virtual reality. And it's ready for the metaverse, the persistent alternate reality in cyberspace author Neal Stephenson envisioned in his 1992 science fiction novel "Snow Crash."
Now, the company is bringing classic characters from TV shows, anime and games including Pac-Man and Hello Kitty to life with augmented reality in Google Search. The expansion into animated characters makes sense considering Pac-Man is the most searched animated icon on Google, leading the pack by a long way: worldwide search interest in Pac-Man is more than double the next most-searched character, Hello Kitty. Now, anime is more popular than video games worldwide, with interest for anime climbing to its highest peak on record in the past month. Google Search has made these characters completely interactive, users can watch ghosts chasing after Pac-Man or Gundam swoop into their living room! To date the characters listed that are viewable in augmented reality include Evangelion, Hello Kitty, Gomora, Gundam, Pac-Man and Ultraman.
You might not know this, but the metaverse is coming. Where you can live a life that expands on reality and can approach hyperrealism. I just took my next big step toward embracing it – and soon you may, too. Within a matter of minutes, I was reborn as a holographic avatar – a digital version of me – with the help of the Avatar Dimension technicians in northern Virginia, just west of the nation's capital. My virtual doppelgänger is ready to embark on digital adventures, be inserted into a video game, a movie or virtual reality. And it's ready for the metaverse, the persistent alternate reality in cyberspace author Neal Stephenson envisioned in his 1992 science fiction novel "Snow Crash."
Niantic Labs, the maker of "Pokémon Go," is teaming with Nintendo for a new augmented reality video game based on the spritelike "Pikmin." The game, due to be released later this year, is the first in a new mobile games partnership between the companies announced Monday. They are not strangers, as Niantic developed "Pokémon Go," released in 2016, with The Pokémon Company, which is part-owned by Nintendo. "Pikmin," a 2001 game developed by Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, starred cute colorful plant-inspired creatures you could control. This game will have Pikmin appearing in the real world via AR to "encourage walking and make the activity more enjoyable," the companies said in the announcement.
AI has been around for a while now when it comes to creating blockbuster movies and immersive video games, but this industry will continue to explode in 2021 and beyond. With total AI spend within the entertainment industry topping $329 million a year, says Business Wire, these technological advancements are helping professionals in all kinds of fields, from filmmaking and marketing to game development and advertising. AI is the go-to technology that not only offers amazing life-like quality to anything from video games to movies, it's designed to grab the audience's attention in unprecedented ways. Disney…Google…Intel…Microsoft…these are just some of the industry giants who are harnessing the power of AI to bring in more viewership, sell more tickets and dominate their industry. Let's take a look at how artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the media and entertainment industries.
According to SuperData, the Quest 2 sold over 1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2020. An increased number of VR headsets in homes would likewise increase the consumer base for VR game and app developers, likely luring additional investment into that area. In October, Facebook announced Ubisoft, the makers of the Assassin's Creed and Tom Clancy Splinter Cell series would bring those franchises to virtual reality. Respawn, another prominent game developer owned by Electronic Arts, produced a version of its "Medal of Honor" series playable on Oculus headsets in conjunction with a PC.
Apart from the virus that shall not be named, I'll forever remember 2020 as the year when new product releases never stopped coming. In these past 12 months, we've seen a flurry of new smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, headphones, laptops, earbuds, VR headsets, video game consoles, smartwatches, streaming sticks, TVs, and... the list goes on and on. While it's been super fun to watch and experience all the ways in which tech brands have been innovating this past year, I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge one thing: Reviewing expensive gadgets during the pandemic felt really trivial at first. Reflecting back on all the devices that came out of 2020, however, I developed an even greater appreciation for all of it. Without getting too corny and deep, much of it has helped to keep many of us sane during a time of such uncertainty.