Insights EDU

How to Build a Metaverse: The 7 Key Skills

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Stuart Cupit | Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer | Solarflare Studio

05 May 2023 | 7 min read

Building a metaverse for a brand or agency can be a daunting task, but with the right skills and knowledge, it can be a powerful tool for engaging with audiences and building a sense of community. In this article, we’ll break down some key tips and skills needed when building a metaverse and compare the pros and cons of using an off-the-shelf hosted metaverse platform versus coding a bespoke platform. First, let’s define what we mean by a metaverse. Simply put, a metaverse is a shared, immersive, persistent, 3D virtual space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. It can be used for a wide range of purposes, from gaming and entertainment to education and training. Over the past year, brands have caused a huge media buzz with the likes of Nike, Gucci, and WWF successfully digitalising their own virtual worlds, using minigames, avatar customisation, and environmental design to drive bespoke product placement and raise awareness for vital causes.

The Purpose

When building a metaverse for a brand or agency, there are a few key skills and tips to keep in mind. First, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the purpose of the metaverse and how it will be used. This will inform the design and functionality of the digital space and help ensure that it is tailored to the specific needs of the brand or agency. Another is understanding the different types of platforms that are available. There are two main options; off-the-shelf hosted metaverse platforms and bespoke metaverse platforms.


Off-the-shelf hosted metaverse platforms are pre-built and can be easily customised to fit the needs of the brand or agency. Here are a few platform examples where brands like BMW to WWF teamed up to implement immersive strategies into their business plans.


On the other hand, examples of bespoke metaverse projects include: The metaverse platforms that are built from scratch use javascript code and libraries or a tool like Unity or Playcanvas. This allows for more flexibility and customisation, but also requires more development time, technical knowledge and resources. Some of the major pros of using an off-the-shelf hosted metaverse platform are that it requires less development time and resources because a lot of the technical infrastructure is already provided. This can be a great advantage for brands and agencies that want to quickly launch a metaverse without having to invest a lot of time and money into development. Additionally, off-the-shelf hosted metaverse platforms are often more cost-effective than bespoke platforms. Although the partnership and association of using an off-the-shelf hosted metaverse platform brings their existing credentials and social following, it may limit the level of customisation and control a brand or agency has over the final product. Furthermore, off-the-shelf platforms may not be able to fully meet the unique needs of a brand or agency. They will contain branding for the metaverse platform rather than purely the target brand. Alternatively, building a bespoke metaverse platform can be more time-consuming and costly, but it also allows for more flexibility and control over the final product. With a bespoke platform, a brand or agency can ensure the metaverse is tailored to their specific needs and built to include unique features and functionality. The whole metaverse can be tailored to the brand rather than looking like the platform.


A further consideration when building a metaverse is how the 3D graphics will be rendered. There are two main options: rendering the 3D graphics locally using WebGL or rendering in the Cloud and Pixel Streaming.


Rendering the 3D graphics locally using WebGL (and in the future WebGPU) is a popular option as it allows for unlimited users as each user has their own device. Additionally, rendering locally can reduce latency and improve the overall user experience. The downside is the graphics quality is only as good as the user’s device, and on an older mobile, this may result in less realistic 3D worlds.

Cloud & Pixel Streaming

On the other hand, rendering in the cloud and pixel streaming can leverage the latest GPUs and produce highly realistic 3D worlds. Platforms like Journey and Odyssey provide cloud rendering and streaming as well as extensions for popular game engines like Unreal and Unity to facilitate multi-user interaction, onboarding, etc. The downsides are that the 3D-rendered view needs to be constantly streamed, requiring a high bandwidth connection. This also introduces a latency between users’ inputs and seeing the result on screen, depending on bandwidth this can be quite disconcerting. Costs are calculated per user, so for large-scale rollouts costs of cloud computing can quickly dwarf the metaverse creation cost, but for smaller numbers of users and limited-time rollouts, it’s more economical. This cost constraint will likely improve quickly as more cloud GPUs come online and competition drives down prices.

The Key To Success

Core to a successful metaverse project, whichever tools you use is the purpose. There has to be a compelling reason for users to enter, stay and return to your metaverse. Careful consideration of the value users will receive from spending time in the space will ensure it’s not just a marketing gimmick. Things like social connections, rewards, ownership of assets, gamification, timed events, unique experiences, exploration and learning all help to give the metaverse you create enough depth to make spending time in it rewarding. Whichever route and tools are right for you can be complex to work out. Speaking to an experienced production partner will save time and money and avoid costly false starts. Here are a just few of the custom digital worlds the team at Solarflare Studio have created over the past year:

The Virtual Hill – Wimbledon:

An interactive social metaverse for the 2022 Wimbledon Grand Slam. Spectators could deepen their relationship with the history of the sport through a fun and engaging digital experience via custom avatars, pitch designs, daily missions and quizzes, and react with custom-designed emojis, all while their friends and family were in the same multiplayer 3D world.

Virtual Learning Portal – Road Safety Authority:

An educational 3D environment for children to learn about road safety in a fun and safe space. Since its launch, the ‘Road Safety-Verse’ has been adopted by the Irish national primary and secondary school curriculum.

ASICS Innovation Summit:

ASICS’ first-ever fully personalised Innovation Summit for the global media to experience from the comfort of their own home. In 2021, users were taken on a biodata-driven virtual reality journey through the past, present, and future of ASICS’ commitment to human-centric design.

Skills Recap:

  • Project management is essential to guarantee the timely and budget-friendly completion of a project. Not only that, it creates a happy productive atmosphere for the development team to exceed the client’s expectations.
  • UX/UI knowledge is key to creating a user-centred design that promotes a seamless and intuitive experience.
  • Creative thinking serves as a catalyst, not only for designing the overall experience but crafting memorable moments within that leave a lasting impression and keep users coming back.
  • Coding is the vital nuts and bolts hidden away, the building blocks of the experience that make everything work and allow you to push the boundaries of what’s possible.
  • 3D modelling is responsible for creating everything that you see in a metaverse. For a visually appealing experience, it should be crafted with a high level of precision.
  • Animation plays a crucial role in bringing to life various elements, from your avatar to all the 3D models populating the space. It’s what makes them move.
  • Audio is an all-important aspect in creating an immersive and captivating experience that engages all the senses. Exceptional spatial sound effects can significantly enhance our perception and interaction with digital environments.
In conclusion, building a metaverse for a brand or agency can be a powerful tool for engaging with audiences and building a sense of community. However, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the purpose of the metaverse to inform development choices. The first step is education. If you’d like to learn more or have an idea, get in touch via email or contact us!

About the author:

Stuart Cupit is CTO and Co-Founder of Solarflare Studio, an experiential production company specialising in the latest technologies. He has over 30 years experience working in the field of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and real-time interactive 3D graphics, across a wide range of industries. As CTO of Solarflare, Stuart is involved with all aspects of the company’s experiential production team, business development and evangelising emerging technologies. He also has a keen personal interest in computer graphics, the maker/hacker community and the merging of traditional craft and the latest digital production techniques.