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According to Unreal Engine’s Sallyann Houghton, the future of e-commerce will be “playing” in branded virtual spaces where consumers can move freely with others.
Brands have greater opportunities in open virtual worlds, with all of a brand’s intellectual property, from collections to partnerships, able to exist in that space, says Houghton, business development for media, entertainment and fashion at Unreal Engines, the game developer owned by Epic Games. , speaking to the Business in vogue and the Yahoo Metaverse event. “All aesthetics are now possible, from photo-real to stylized, so any brand or brand idea can be represented… You can have a level of interaction with your community that is not possible from a digital store.”
Epic Games’ game engine, called Unreal Engine, is available to external developers and is one of the primary back-end technologies enabling photorealistic, three-dimensional virtual experiences. Houghton works closely with media, entertainment and fashion brands to develop these projects.
“The future of e-commerce is gaming,” and Houghton predicts it will encompass “real-time, immersive, interactive, joyful virtual worlds.” She expects virtual stores and branded virtual worlds to evolve into virtual open spaces, where consumers can roam freely.
“Epic Games and other tech companies are launching the tools creators need to create [open worlds] as quickly and easily as possible. We live in a time where the technologies that will underpin the metaverse are available and growing every day. »
The Fortnite video game, owned by Epic Games, has become a leader in the digital world of fashion, adds Houghton. “Fortnite, with its 400 million registered players, exudes fashion and everything we love about it, from self-expression through skins to real-life collaborations that bring digital fashion into the world,” he said. she declared. “Its business model is largely based on cosmetic items that help extend its growing influence on global wardrobe and pop culture.”
The gaming industry has more than 2.7 billion gamers worldwide, and luxury brands are tapping into it to try to appeal to a Gen Z audience. In September last year, for example, Balenciaga became the first luxury brand to partner with the game, designing and selling four virtual outfits (or “skins”), as well as accessories, weapons and an in-game Balenciaga virtual destination. In November, the fashion brand luxury Moncler followed with outerwear inspired by its recent collection with fashion brand 1017 Alyx 9SM.
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