We’re often asked to project the size of the metaverse. This is a fair question as our research arm ARtillery Intelligence is all about market sizing. But doing so for the metaverse eludes most disciplined market-sizing methods for one simple reason: it doesn’t exist yet.

For example, as we discussed in a recent AWE presentation, the bottom-up approach represents best practices in revenue projections. It sizes up a given sector and models out future revenue based on unit economics around current sales and other market signals (example).

By comparison, the top-down approach is more about macro factors such as modeling historical growth patterns in comparable sectors. Both approaches can be used together to triangulate revenue estimates in a disciplined way. But the bottom-up approach should come first.

The problem is that bottom-up inputs don’t exist in today’s ill-defined metaverse, meaning that any market sizing is on shaky ground. If it gets as big as it could – as the successor to today’s internet – we quickly get into the trillions of dollars which is strategically meaningless today.

With that disclaimer, it doesn’t hurt to start to triangulate metaverse magnitude through the lens of today’s signals (with a grain of salt). How much time is spent in metaverse-like feifdoms like Fortnite? And what are some research firms saying about those trillion-dollar estimates?

Data Dive

To answer these questions, we’ve gathered up all of the metaverse data that we could for this week’s Data Dive. Here’s the list, which we’ll circle back to and update as it develops.

Usage Figures

– Meta’s social VR platform Horizon hits 300,000 users.

– Obsess reports that 70 percent of consumers that visit virtual stores make purchases.

– Gartner projects that 25 percent of people will spend an hour per day in the metaverse by 2026.

Survey Data

– Gamers and developers expect the metaverse to arrive in one to five years, according to a poll done by Improbable.

– Developers remain skeptical of web3 and metaverse components (e.g., NFTs and cryptocurrency) in GDC’s 2022 survey.

Company performance

– Roblox Q4 revenue grew 20 percent to $770.1 million in Q4.

– Roblox says 1.3 million people now make monetized content for the platform, and they’re on pace to be paid $500 million this year.

– Second Life storefront user traffic jumped 35 percent in 2021.

– More than 500 mobile apps have added ‘Metaverse’ to their app store descriptions.

Market Sizing

– Goldman Sachs projects a metaverse market size as high as $8 trillion (undefined time period).

– Morgan Stanley estimates that the metaverse could be an $8 trillion market in China alone (undefined time period).

– JP Morgan predicts that the metaverse market size will be $1 trillion (undefined time period).

– Investor and metaverse thought leader Matthew Ball projects a metaverse that could grow to as much as $30 billion (undefined time period).

– ReportLinker estimates that the global metaverse market will reach $758.6 billion by 2026.

– Bloomberg Intelligence estimates that the metaverse was a $500 billion market in 2020, growing to $800 billion in 2024.

– Emergen Research says that the metaverse was a $47.69 billion market in 2020, growing to $829 billion in 2028, a 43.3 percent CAGR.

– Pricewaterhouse Coopers estimates that the metaverse was a $148.5 billion market in 2021, growing to $1.54 trillion in 2030.

– Market Research Future estimates that the metaverse was a $21.91 billion in 2020, and will achieve a 41.7 percent compound annual growth rate by 2030.

XR Talks: The Race to Build the Metaverse

Diverging Definitions

One thing that jumps out from the above figures – in addition to figures in the trillions – is the wide variance in projections. This is due to diverging definitions of the metaverse and what research firms are counting in their projections (often a source of variance in market sizing).

That brings us back to the challenges in defining – and thus sizing – the metaverse. Meanwhile, we could see a few tracks develop: one involves virtual synchronous worlds, while the other adds digital dimension to the physical world through AR. Both will take years to actualize.

Beyond those high-level classifications, there’s the question of more granular use cases. What activities will the metaverse be defined by? If it’s indeed the successor to today’s internet, that could be everything from social connection to entertainment to workplace productivity.

Here, there’s a balance of modeling a future after the present (today’s web), and acknowledging an eventual metaverse’s likelihood to develop natively and organically. Like the early web, its eventual use cases and points of value could be things that we haven’t even thought of yet.

The Virtual and IRL Verses of the Metaverse

Native Thinking

Another analogy is trying conceptualize the iPhone in 1985, which few people were able to do at the time. Or even later, no one thought of Uber when the iPhone first launched. It took a few years living with that new form factor for native thinking to seep into the developer mindset.

There are several other examples from the smartphone era such as Foursquare, Spotify, and Snapchat. These and several other smartphone-native innovations only came after the form factor was introduced – sometimes years later. This will likely be the case for the metaverse.

The takeaway is to keep an open mind about the shapes (and sizes) that the metaverse will take, and manage expectations about its timing, which could be years or even decades. But along that path, metaverse building blocks like AR and VR will get us closer and have standalone value.

Header image credit: Nicholas Cappello on Unsplash

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