A true “metaverse” may not yet exist, but that hasn’t stopped marketers from embracing the buzzword to promote their apps and games on mobile app stores. According to new data shared today by Sensor Tower, there are now 552 mobile apps that include the term “metaverse” in their app titles or descriptions, hoping to capture consumer interest in this next evolution of the web. And many of the new additions have only been added in the last few months, the company notes.
Across all global apps ranked on the App Store and Google Play, a total of 86 apps added references to the “metaverse” to their title or description between November 2021 and January 2022, data from Sensor Tower indicates.
This time period follows Facebook’s announcement of its corporate branding for “Meta”, and its plans to invest heavily in “metaverse” technologies over the next decade. While Facebook, now Meta, never claimed to have built the metaverse, the word soon began to be used much more casually to describe virtually any immersive online environment where people interact with one another as virtual selves. Startups began to describe themselves as metaverse companies. The Roblox gaming platform has been touted as a pioneer in the metaverse. social encryption platforms – which were actually just MMORPGs with a heavy financial component – were also dubbed the metaverses, thought-provoking land races for the real estate sector of the metaverse. And so on.
It seems that marketers didn’t care much about the actual technical requirements for the existence of the metaverse – like the new industry standards that would need to be built to allow movement between interoperable digital worlds, where all your friends, connections and “things “virtual” comes with you.
After Facebook announced its metaverse efforts on October 28, the number of apps referencing the word “metaverse” grew 66% month-over-month through November. By the end of November, 29 apps had been updated to include the word, more than double the 11 apps in October.
The new company also looked at what types of apps were tapping into the metaverse trend. It turned out that many of the apps also referenced other popular tech terms alongside the word “metaverse” – such as “crypto”, “NFTs”, “AR” or “VR”, for example.
Of these, “crypto” was the most common term to be identified alongside “metaverse”, with 23% of apps (144 apps in total) mentioning the term. This is not surprising, given that the web3 crypto community relies heavily on hype these days, and dub something of a “metaverse” before it even exists is certainly the definition of hype. “NFTs” was the second most popular term, appearing in 18% of the group studied, or 118 apps in total. The terms “AR” and “VR” were found in 11% and 9% of the “metaverse” applications, respectively.
The term “metaverse” has also been surprisingly used in a wide variety of applications, not just games and crypto finance applications.
However, mobile game publishers have led the way in adopting the keyword, as 107 apps in the games category now reference the term, or 19% of the apps studied. The second largest category in which the term appeared was Finance, accounting for 101 of the “metaverse” apps. This was followed by Social (70 apps), Entertainment (57 apps), Books (37 apps), Lifestyle (33 apps), Tools (26 apps), Business (25 apps). Art and Design (13 apps) and Education (11 apps.)
It’s still unclear whether adding the word “metaverse” to these apps is working to attract users. While it was clearly adopted to capitalize on app store user searches for the word, apps that are successful in this market are likely to offer better user experiences than those that are not.