What is Metaverse? What purpose does it serve? How will metaverse companies and metaverse games change the world as we know it? Read our article to learn everything that you’ve been wondering since hearing the term, “Metaverse”.
If you’ve read the news or even scrolled through social media in the past few months, chances are you’ve heard of the term “metaverse”. Facebook made a huge display by changing the company name to “Meta” and rebranding itself as a ‘social technology company’, the news of which spread like wildfire. So, you certainly have an idea of it. Yet, that may have made you wonder – what it is, really? What is Metaverse? How does it work and why is everyone making such a big deal out of it?
The honest answer is – no one knows with 100% certainty yet. In a lot of ways, discussing the definition of metaverse is like explaining the concept of the internet in the 1970s – an idea at its nascent stage, an idea that’s merely rising. So we can explain the theoretical aspects of it and what currently we are visualising it to be like, but no one can really say accurately what it’ll end up becoming in reality.
So, as far as we know right now, what is Metaverse?
The term “metaverse” was first coined in the dystopian novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson in 1992 where the material reality becomes uninhabitable and virtual reality is the only way out. Since then the concept has arrived in more sci-fi novels, movies, and games a bunch of times. However, now it’s about to become a reality.
Explained simply, the metaverse is the internet’s 3-dimensional, virtual manifestation – a social platform that combines aspects from online gaming, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), social media, and cryptocurrencies to create a world where individuals may connect virtually in personalised avatar forms. It’s similar to video chatting, but it’s synchronous, so it’ll feel more “real” and you’ll feel “present” at the place and the person with whom you’re interacting at that moment – you’ll be able to enjoy the experience of it all, very close to reality.
“In the metaverse, you’ll be able to do almost anything you can imagine—get together with friends and family, work, learn, play, shop, create—as well as completely new experiences that don’t really fit how we think about computers or phones today…In this future, you will be able to teleport instantly as a hologram to be at the office without a commute, at a concert with friends, or in your parents’ living room to catch up.”
The ultimate objective is to be able to navigate smoothly between the actual and virtual worlds inside a continuous metaverse.
Video games, Metaverse, and Metaverse games
This shift to the metaverse is already being planned by today’s gaming industry. Chances are metaverse games are the ones that will make this concept a reality first, given how much AR and VR are already in use. Companies like Epic Games, Roblox, etc. are working to convert their video game world into the metaverse. In fact, some of them have already held celebrity concerts in VR drawing in millions of gamers. Roblox even allowed kids to organise birthday parties inside their VR game. The probability of this huge user base turning into metaverse games users the moment they launch is close to 100%.
To add to this, the emergence of Non-fungible tokens, aka NFTs, has been a turning point in the gaming industry, creating a slew of new options for everyone in the framework – game creators and designers, businesses, as well as the players. NFT games allows players to have full control over their in-game avatars, assets, and rewards that can be integrated in other games or traded in the marketplace. Play-to-earn NFT games even offer a plenty of opportunities for gamers to earn money in exchange for their time in the game. Many games even provide the game designers with recognition as well as copyrights for their designs which they can earn royalties from. Since metaverse games are majorly going to use NFTs for transactions, we can safely say that the path is already laid out well enough.
How can you make money in the Metaverse?
Frankly, metaverse seems to be not all that different from the real world, it’s simply a digital version of it. Think of the metaverse as a parallel universe of the real world where you have more freedom from the reality that you’re currently living in. So money-making opportunities in the metaverse will have similar components as they are now, it’s just that there will be the digital flavour and twist.
The most common and profitable forms of investments in the real world exist in the metaverse world too – stocks and real estate. Currently, Meta Platforms Inc, Roblox, Boeing, and Microsoft are the publicly traded companies which expect to turn into metaverse companies before anyone else and their profitability presently is tied to the metaverse. So, investing in them can be a good option right now. As for real estate, potential metaverse companies such as The Sandbox and Decentraland have already started to offer non-fungible tokens as digital real estate (NFTs). After buying it, the possessor of a Metaverse land NFT can renovate his virtual estate or lease/sell it on the NFT marketplace.
Having said all this, we should all be aware, that metaverse is still in its early stages and therefore, the markets there are much more volatile than regular ones. So, you should definitely research the market and the metaverse company’s white paper well, and take caution before investing. If this is your first time in the blockchain investment world, we would recommend you take guidance from an experienced and expert blockchain consulting team.
- Be creative and earn:
Apart from investing, the metaverse will offer the users a broad range of ways to earn money. In the metaverse, you will be able to create and trade NFTs (this has already begun); design, build, rent, manage, flip, or broker virtual real estates; get into metaverse marketing and advertisements; design, model in, or sell/trade digital fashion; educate virtually; kick start your business more easily than the real world; earn from designing and playing games (as mentioned before); offering VR travel experiences; earn from event promoting and hosting; testing products for various metaverse companies; and earn from performing different tasks in the virtual world.
Why does the Metaverse matter?
As businesses start incorporating the metaverse in the future, it will cause great impacts on sectors like social networking, enterprise, gaming, and retail. In a way, metaverse will disrupt all these industries to rebuild them in its own parallel world. In the words of founder and CEO of VR learning company Moth+Flame,
“It’s exciting because it has the potential to bring more businesses who may have otherwise thought VR was out of their reach, into the mix in looking for some of the really cool work being done in the enterprise space.”
For example, the creator economy stands to gain a lot from the metaverse as anyone will be able to create any virtual content and be paid for it. Same goes for retail. In the virtual retail environment, customers don’t have to physically move around searching and trying out various clothing, which offers them a greater variety and helps save a lot of time. In gaming too, along with the already-mentioned ways, metaverse games could open doors for developers and gamers to generate income as sponsors or esports participants. Plus, there is the added advantage of exploring a world that we can only imagine, a world expectedly not bound by social norms, or even laws of physics; which is mind blowing.
On top of all these exciting new expedition opportunities, metaverse may end up actually being good for the environment. While it certainly will take a lot of energy to run the metaverse, which cannot be good for the environment, according to Zuckerberg, the metaverse may present many solutions for environmental issues as a whole. For example, in the metaverse, apparel will play a significant role and people will be spending real money on clothes for their avatars. As people opt less and less for physical clothing and more clothing and fashion organisations turn into metaverse companies, not only will it bring down the overproduction of garments, but also the huge amount of travelling designers and buyers have to do mandatorily, which will definitely lead to a significant decline in fuel emission. All of this, according to a 2020 research conducted by a digital-only retailer DRESSX, is predicted to save 3,300 litres of water on each clothing and generate 97% less CO2 which is a huge difference made for mother earth.
What are we looking at in the near future?
The metaverse virtual ecosystem players are still in their early stages in comparison to other Web 3.0 and Web 2.0 divisions, and some experts believe it still may take about 5-10 years for the concept of metaverse, the way we are visualising it, to be a reality. However, if the current rates of progress persist, with the giants of the technology world like Microsoft, Nvidia, and Meta – all pitching in for a metaverse future, this budding sector has the potential to become completely mainstream, attracting the majority of the world’s population, whenever that future arrives. According to a Grayscale study, Web 3.0 Metaverse virtual worlds already have around 50,000 all-time participants, which is a growth of 10-fold since the beginning of 2020. The financial potential for breathing life into Metaverse might be worth over $1 trillion in yearly sales, putting Web 2.0 businesses with a market value of over $15 trillion in significant competition.
Some possible drawbacks
Metaverse, even in all its glory, isn’t above criticism. The idea of Metaverse may sound a lot like the current VR system, but it’s more than that – Metaverse will be synced on all your devices and with consumer-friendly AR glasses and VR headset, you will practically be connected to the metaverse all day long. This made several experts and researchers concerned about this new future, and they may have a few reasonable points:
- User privacy: Since you’re linked to the metaverse all the time, and will be using various services inside this world, the metaverse companies associated with it are likely to collect your biometric as well as your personal data through the devices and by showing advertisements. Scholars in the field are concerned that this may not only lead to the violation of user privacy, but also may make spreading misinformation extremely easy.
- User safety: Virtual crimes and sexual offences can be significant challenges in the metaverse. Owing to a recent sexual harassment complaint, Meta has added a “personal boundary” feature to the avatars in Facebook’s new virtual universe – an experimental predecessor of the metaverse. However, experts believe more measures will be necessary.
- Physical injuries: The VR headset isn’t too new a concept, yet already a number of users are known to have sustained physical injuries while using it. Unless this technology improves, using the metaverse in a public place may even result in fatalities.
- Addiction and mental issues: Having lived in the world of social media for over 15 years now, even the general public is familiar with a good number of health issues related to the online world – social media and video games addiction, social media-afflicted mental issues like anxiety, depression, etc. And sedentary lifestyle-afflicted bodily problems such as obesity, cardiovascular issues, and many more are not too uncommon. Experts are concerned that Metaverse, like existent web platforms, could be exploited to provide an ‘escape’ from reality, thereby increasing the chances of these physical and mental issues even further.
In the nascent stage of a new idea, it is full of possibilities; and as an idea, it simply exists – it’s neither good nor bad – this depends on how humans end up using it. However, for an innovation to arrive, some old ideas need to be bid farewell to, and we need the people believing in these old ideas to criticise the new idea, to keep it in check, to keep it from turning into something harmful or terrible. It is still too early to conclude anything about the metaverse and what it may become one day, but one thing is for certain – it will definitely be a reality someday and it will change the world as we know it. All we can do right now is prepare for this new world, and work together to make it sustainable and good.
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