What Engineers Really Think About the Metaverse (Survey Insights)
by Daniel Sturman, Chief Technology Officer, Roblox
Product & Tech
93% of engineers want to help build the metaverse, and 4 in 5 would quit their current job for the opportunity
More than 90% say the metaverse will see more technical innovation than any other segment in the next decade
78% of engineers expect to spend more than half of their workday in the metaverse in the next decade
At Roblox, we’re on a mission to connect billions of people in the metaverse with optimism and civility. Reaching that goal requires long-term thinking, continuous innovation and respect for the community.
As we push ourselves to lead and innovate, we decided to check in with the engineering community (via a nationwide survey*) for their predictions and thoughts on leadership and innovation, technology and the future of work. The survey results emphatically show that engineers are excited by the metaverse and the future of shared 3D immersive experiences.
Back in 2004, long before the metaverse became a buzzword, Roblox set out on an ambitious vision to reimagine how people come together in 3D immersive environments. We saw an opportunity to break new ground in engineering and technology, and based on responses from 500 engineers across all career levels – from vice presidents and fellows to directors, managers, principal engineers and other individual contributors – we are pleased to see that this vision now appears to be shared broadly by the engineering community.
In fact, more than three quarters (78%) of engineers expect to spend more than half of their workday in the metaverse in the next 10 years. Additionally, a significant majority (68%) are optimistic about the positive societal impact of immersive 3D internet experiences, rating them above technologies like crypto/NFT/blockchain (62%) and social media platforms (43%).
Engineers Want to Help Build the Metaverse
While it’s not surprising that our survey showed that nearly all engineers (98%) are familiar with the concept of the metaverse, what is intriguing is their interest in being a part of the journey to help usher it in. 93% of engineers want to help build the metaverse – with near universal interest (97%) amongst executive leadership in engineering.
More than 90% of engineers say the metaverse will see more technological innovation than any other segment in the next 10 years. Building the metaverse/immersive 3D platforms is also the top area engineers are interested in pursuing as their next job (68%), with digital economies (38%) and safety and security (37%) rounding out the top three areas. The vast majority (88%) also agree that “the best engineers want to work on building the metaverse.”
Finally, perhaps the most telling insight from our survey is that nearly 4 in 5 (79%) engineers would quit their current job if offered a new job building the metaverse.
Key Engineerings Skills (and Challenges) for the Next Decade
Based on the strong interest in engineering the metaverse, engineers would be wise to pick up new skills and coding languages that are particularly applicable to the metaverse, like learning Lua, a coding language often used in building 3D immersive environments.
Our survey also looked at more general technical skills – those that could be applied both to the metaverse and otherwise.
Based on survey responses, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) knowledge will be the most critical skills for engineers in the next 5-10 years. Survey participants rated AI/ML Engineer (54%), Data Engineer (50%), Platform Engineer (44%) and Avatar / Animation Engineer (40%) as the most anticipated in-demand engineering jobs in the next 5-10 years, with the latter of course being particularly more focused on the metaverse.
Opportunities tied to building digital economies and maintaining safety, security and civility were also all top of mind. Safety and civility ranked as the top technical challenge/concern (54%) by engineers for building the metaverse. Others included device support (46%), rendering large dynamic distributed environments (42%) and enabling large scale shared co-experiences (41%).
Breakthrough Technologies to Speed Up Metaverse Adoption
We’re still in the very early stages of what’s possible, and many complex technical challenges ahead will require long term thinking and financial investment. For engineers taking our survey, the most frequently cited examples of breakthrough technologies that would speed up the adoption of the metaverse over the next 1-2 years were virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence and machine learning.
They rank communications in 3D immersive experiences such as chat and spatial voice as the most important technology (42%) for ushering in the metaverse, followed closely by hardware devices (40%), 3D formats/interoperability (36%) and visuals/graphics (36%).
As for financial investment, hardware (45%), safety and security (43%) and AI/ML-powered content generation (43%) are the top three areas engineers stack ranked as critical for prioritization in the next 1-3 years.
Innovation Journey Ahead
As with most companies that strive to be successful long-term, anticipating what’s around the corner, constantly driving to innovate, and respecting the needs of the community are all critical values and priorities for us here at Roblox.
Seeing these survey insights has been very encouraging to us as it shows how perceptions amongst technical talent are shifting to align with our vision of a future of 3D social immersive experiences and communication in the metaverse. I can’t be any more excited about our vision, the huge opportunity for innovation ahead, and the chance to work with the engineering talent that will join us on that journey.