We’re surrounded on all sides by AR and VR! Augmented reality is creeping into our physical world, while virtual reality tempts us to jump into an imaginary one. And what fills these strange digital worlds? Objects. Generally, these objects don’t correspond to anything tangible out in real reality. They’re representations or exaggerations of their physical counterparts. But nonetheless, virtual objects are gaining value.
We create whole virtual worlds to house these objects—and they are getting big enough for us to start partially living in these environments. And socializing in them, too. The culture of the physical world is bleeding into the AR and VR world. And where there’s a cultural presence, so follows an economy.
What Does a Virtual Purchase Look Like Today?
Right now, the virtual economy is pretty basic: you buy outfits for your avatar, coins for your farmland, gems for your armies, gear for your race car, and so on. It’s basically the same as when we pumped quarters into arcade games to get more play time. This kind of thing can be found in VR/AR, too: purchasing characters in Pokemon Go, for example.
What Will a Virtual Purchase Look Like Tomorrow?
The stuff mentioned above was all built in the virtual world, for the virtual world. But as AR and VR begin to blur the line between that world and the real one… you won’t be buying objects that only matter in the context of your game. You’ll be buying objects that transgress these programs. Brand value will happen to virtual objects, too. If wearing Louis Vuitton is a status symbol in the real world, it’s likely to have the same pride-boosting effect as an enhanced version in AR or a purely digital one in VR. It will mean a new society will form: Who’s wearing what? How do brands even work in this new space? What does brand boasting look like when everything is augmentable? Or consider this: when you buy a Rolex, you get a virtual version with the same attention to detail the physical one has. Or maybe you buy a virtual dupe that looks the same from some code-literate hacker equivalent of a trench coat salesman. That potentially means a lot of time and resources spent building virtual brands to mirror the real world.
Who’s Selling This Stuff?
Simple answer: algorithms will. The same ones at the bottom of every Amazon listing that tell you to buy a new sleeping bag because you just bought a new tent. They’ll continue to politely cajole you and upsell you. But bots aside, there’s also a spot for people here – the sales floor. What will happen there? When physical objects have digital counterparts, will salespeople have to be virtual experts? Or maybe, influencers will be the only salespeople we need…
Anyway, while we wait for that future to unfold, check out the 10 most expensive virtual products ever sold. Crazy.