These days it seems like everybody and every company is talking about “Metaverse” as the next upcoming idea which is going to revolutionize our online lives. But everyone seems to have their own idea of what Metaverse means. In the following we introduce the phenomenon.
What exactly the Metaverse is
Neal Stephenson first coined the term “Metaverse” in his 1992 science fiction book Snow Crash. The term was developed to name a computer-generated universe. It is generally understood to be a highly immersive, shared virtual world where people gather to play games, socialize and to work. Metaverse is also relative to the development of Web3.0, which seems to be the next chapter of cyberspace existence.
The concept of Metaverse is not really new. Back in the early 2000s, there were some pioneers to the Metaverse, including Second Life (launched by Linden Lab in 2003) and Habbo Hotel, made by Finland’s Sulake. Although lost lots of attention from people since then, they both are still on the scene: Second Life still has 200,000 daily active users.
To get a better mindset about Metaverse, we suggest you watch this trailer of the Ready Player One movie:
What is the difference between the Internet and the Metaverse?
The internet is a network of billions of computers, millions of servers and other electronic devices. As the Internet users get online, they can communicate with each other, view and interact with websites, and buy and sell goods and services.
Although many question it, the Metaverse doesn’t compete with the internet: it builds on it. In an interview Mark Zuckerberg described the Metaverse as “an embodied internet,” basically an upgraded version of the internet where people can have “different experiences that you couldn’t necessarily do on a 2D app or webpage.”
In the Metaverse, users go through a virtual world that represents aspects of the physical world using virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), AI, social media and digital currency technologies. The internet is something that people “browse.” But, it is said that Metaverse is a place to “live” in.
A key benefit to the Metaverse is supposed to be “presence”, which refers to a sense that the user is physically engaging with places and people instead of watching them through a window. So it could be said that since the Metaverse id built on the Internet, many pieces seem as likely to supplement the internet instead of replacing it. Imagine an online shopping for clothes. You just find the piece check the price, color and size and you are all done! But you always wish to know how it looks on you before the purchase. Here, a virtual dressing room makes sense for you; you may see the cloth on you from different directions, try a different color and size and then decide! It seems just an easy way to switch between flat and spatial experiences. The Metaverse is not going to replace or obsolete desktop-based options, in fact it plans to improve the experience and make a more fascinating life.
What is the Metaverse going to do?
As already mentioned, the Metaverse plans to combine all aspects of life together. The Metaverse enables users to enter a 3D office and interact other people’s avatars. Even the jobs may also be relevant to the Metaverse and provide people with income directly usable in the Metaverse.
GameFi and play-to-earn models now provide steady income streams for people worldwide. Such online jobs provide a good vision for Metaverse implementation in the future, as they elaborate how people may spend their time living and earning in virtual worlds. Play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity and Gods Unchained don’t even have 3D worlds or avatars. However, the principle is that they could be part of the Metaverse as a way to earn money entirely in the online world.
How do NFTs fit into the Metaverse?
Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) play an essential role in the usefulness and popularity of the Metaverse. We already know that NFTs are a secure type of digital asset since they are based on the same blockchain technology used by a cryptocurrency. An NFT can represent a piece of art, a song or digital real estate, for example. An NFT are provided with digital deed or proof of ownership for their owners that can be bought or sold in the Metaverse.
It is believed that NFTs are critical to integrate the digital and physical world by giving a unique identity to avatars or digital items. Avatars supported by NFT technology are not merely digital faces and clothes templates which can be copied by any other user. Instead, according to the nature of NFTs, an NFT-supported avatar is unique and could be owned only by one person. Besides it includes all the user’s prior digital interactions and experiences or simply saying their digital “life. Therefore, NFTs give users and digital assets an “identity” within a virtual space that is completely independent from a developer’s control of the code. Such identities are widely used in blockchain gaming, which has formed a virtual world since the introduction of both NFTs and the Metaverse. Real-life identities tied to digital avatars are just one way that the NFTs provide access to the Metaverse.
How does crypto fit into the Metaverse?
It seems that we are going to work, socialize, and even purchase virtual items in the Metaverse, and, as the result, we need a secure way of showing ownership. Besides, safe transfer of items and money around the Metaverse is necessary. Finally, everyone wants to have a role in the decision-making taking place in the Metaverse if it is going to be such a large part of our lives.
Some video games have taken basic solutions; however, many developers consider crypto and blockchain as a better option. Blockchain provides a decentralized and transparent solution for the problem, while video-game development is more centralized.
Blockchain developers further make use of influence from the video game world. Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and GameFi are both aspects of gamification. The key aspects of blockchain suited to the Metaverse include digital proof of ownership, digital collectability, transfer of value, accessibility, interoperability.
What will power the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is believed to be driven by diverse forms of technology such as cloud infrastructure, software tools, platforms, applications, user-generated content, and hardware. In addition to the technical requirements, the Metaverse is designed to include a wide variety of user experiences such as entertainment, gaming, commerce, social interactions, education, research, etc.
What will Metaverse take this time?
The big tech companies have widely focused on the Metaverse. Mark Zuckerberg seems to be the leader, while Microsoft wants to build the enterprise Metaverse.
Accordingly, many online multiplayer games like Fortnite, Minecraft (owned by Microsoft) and Roblox have already made social gaming a mainstream phenomenon and have created platforms that can be the building blocks for developing Metaverse. Some game developers assume Roblox as the most powerful Metaverse platform of the future. Minecraft, on the other hand, runs on Hadean cloud software which can measure up to thousands of users per world.
The newest item to be considered regarding Metaverse is the computing power to scale virtual reality at a massive scale. Companies like Hadean and Improbable, specialize at creating large-scale distributed computing, can get 10,000 players on the same server simultaneously. Many Metaverse companies are planning to host concerts and sporting events for 50,000 people simultaneously, which was unthinkable only a few years ago.
Cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) provide the chance to buy and sell things inside the Metaverse and opening up commercial interests. Furthermore, the exchangeable tokens will make it possible to move your virtual identity and goods between different Metaverse worlds, for example take your pixelated sword from a Roblox game and turn it into a powerful gun in Fortnite; even trade it later for a better weapon in the new world!
This dream comes true when the Metaverse shifts to “meta” and it will be all possible to get around between platforms just the way imagined in sci-fi novels like Snow Crash and Ready Player One. The perfect match to this is that moment in the 1990s when mobile phones started allowing people to text each other across different networks, and suddenly mobile messaging exploded beyond anyone’s expectations.
Is the Metaverse just about playing video games?
Well, the answer is definitely negative. Games are an obvious starting point, but if you take the broader Web3.0 view, the Metaverse is here to include much more. Fortnite has hosted concerts by Ariana Grande and Travis Scott, while Lil Nas X’s Roblox concert last year got 33m views.
Startups like Paris-based Stage11 are also taking advantages entering Metaverse. Stage 11, which just raised a $5m seed round from Otium Capital, is building immersive music experiences for the Metaverse and has partnerships with artists like David Guetta, Snoop Dogg, Ne-Yo and Akon.
At the present time, a large number of creative characters around the world, from musicians to fashion designers, are holding their businesses around providing goods and services for the Metaverse, while it is expected to grow rapid in the near future. London-based Gravity Sketch recently launched a virtual collaboration room to enable the designers remotely work together on the same 3D design project.
Considering the requirements of business world, Metaverse is provideing the potential for meetings, education and healthcare. As an example in the field, Swedish startup Warpin is building VR training videos for companies and did a pilot project with digital doctor service Kry. In this project, socially anxious patients went into immersive virtual social scenarios with their therapist and worked through their fears. Therefore, all other projects or platforms which be able people to collaborate with each other count into Metaverse.
What equipment do you need to enter the Metaverse?
Oculus-quest-keyboard and VR headsets are required to take the best experience with the Metaverse. Although the hardware is self-contained in number of the VR headsets and you do not require a PC or game console to use the Metaverse, many argue that high levels of processing is necessary to take the most advantage of the Metaverse. There are also some VR headsets which connect with phones, which makes PC or lap top unnecessary tools to use the Metaverse.
On the other hand, some suggest AR headsets, which layer digital information on top of the real world and tend to be a lot more expensive. Few of AR glasses are already working with phones, PCs and lap tops.
Before you decide to get any equipment, check the instruction on the Metaverse game you wish to play.
What about the dominance of big technologies like Facebook and Microsoft on Metaverse?
Many question whether the Metaverse will be ruled by one company like Facebook, or have multiple companies that collaborate.
“What Facebook is proposing in the Metaverse is very much centralized control over an entire ecosystem. The alternative model is embodied by what we’re seeing in the blockchain space where multiple digital currencies will coexist and multiple companies collaborate,” says Jean-Philippe Vergne, associate professor at the UCL School of Management and author of a recent paper on the Metaverse prospects. “I think this is the war that will take place over the next 10 years” he believes.
Is the Metaverse just completely overhyped now?
Do not worry! Although there are a lot of sayings and headlines developing on Metaverse at the moment, investment in this area is still not as strong. In April, US games company Epic raised a $1bn funding round led by Sony, and last week The Sandbox, a games studio owned by Hong Kong VC Animoca Brands, raised a $93m Series B funding round led by SoftBank, however even these large investments are still not adequate to the big image.
It seems that investors are still, for the most part, playing a wait-and-see game to see which young startups are worth supporting. Most of the funding rounds have been seed.
What is Metaverse like right now?
The difficulty of defining the Metaverse seems to be that present should be defines away in order for it to be the future. We already have MMOs that are essentially entire virtual worlds, digital concerts, video calls with people from all over the world, online avatars, and commerce platforms. So in order to sell these things as a new vision of the world, there has to be new, unique elements of it. This kind of hype is as vital a part of the idea of the Metaverse. Therefore, there will be no wonder that people promoting things like NFTs are also closely following the idea of the Metaverse. Though, when people just notice the interest in the almost new phenomenon, they seem to go for it easier and later turn to a loyal user and, in this case, shareholders. Simply, remember the immediate ideas toward the Internet when it was launched first; now, compare the proto-Metaverse ideas we have today them and assume everything will get better and progress accordingly. There’s no guarantee but Metaverse world will be as common as smartphones and computers are today.