According to research, by 2026 a quarter of people will spend at least an hour a day in the Metaverse. In today’s article, we will figure out what the Metaverse is (Is metaverse hype or the future of the internet?), why it is needed, and what Neo from The Matrix has to do with it.
WHAT IS THE METAVERSE?
What do you imagine when you hear the phrase “another reality“? Do you think of iconic movies like The Matrix by the Wachowski brothers or 2018’s Ready Player One? Maybe you remember the book “Avalanche” by the writer Neil Stevenson?
The idea of films and books is simple – a person uses special technologies, creates his avatar, and immerses himself in virtual reality (VR), where he interacts with other immersed people.
The Metaverse in the imagination of science fiction writers is a utopian virtual universe that is “liberated” from the cultural, social, economic, and political problems of reality.
By the way, the term “Metaverse” was coined by the aforementioned science fiction writer Neil Stevenson in 1992, describing the next stage in the development of the Internet. In Avalanche, the Metaverse is a single digital world capable of merging physical, augmented, and virtual realities.
Augmented reality (AR) is an environment that supplements the physical, real-world with digital data in real-time using various devices (tablets, smartphones) and special software.
The difference between augmented reality and virtual reality (VR) is that augmented reality only adds individual elements to an already existing world. Virtual reality artificially creates the whole world anew.
Having created his avatar in the Metaverse, a person will be able to do almost everything in VR that he does in the real world, for example, search for information, communicate with friends, work, and go for a walk. In short, lives in the new universe the way he wants and owns anything.
IS METAVERSE HYPE OR FUTURE OF THE INTERNET?
Some may think that the Metaverse is = a video game. But the two should not be equated. Now we’ll tell you why.
HOW IS THE METAVERSE DIFFERENT FROM GAMES?
Games and Metaverse do have a lot in common. For example, users create an avatar/character, find friends, and enemies, join groups, “farm” resources for some tasks and create items.
Beyond that, there are only differences. The first of them is that the world of the metauniverse exists together with the real one, intersects with it, or complements it. The game is a fictional universe created for the sake of the gameplay. Let’s go with examples.
When you enter the game, you start playing by certain rules, for example, if you play World of Warcraft, your main goal is to upgrade (make stronger) your character. To do this, you need to extract resources, and game currency, look for armor, weapons, and complete story quests (quest chains).
There is no gameplay in the Metaverse. Here they study, go to virtual stores and meet colleagues at a meeting in a digital office. And all this without quests like “mix a potion” or “get 15 dandelions”.
The game also has written lore (from the English “lore” – “meaning”, “tradition”) – this is background information about the game world, its history, culture, traditions, and other details.
The Metaverse has nothing like that because when you enter the world, you do not turn into an assassin, elf, or witcher. It’s all you, too, with your history, your looks, and your idiosyncrasies.
Another distinctive feature of the Metaverse is its infinite existence. The Metaverse runs non-stop and never ends, unlike games.
We will also talk about decentralization. This means that each Metaverse is the creative work of millions of people, each contributing to a new world. Games are managed by developer corporations that prescribe every detail, and gamers get the finished product.
And, of course, it is impossible not to mention the currency. The games have a special in-game currency that can be purchased with donations for real money. Donations are the purchase of something in the game, for example, a new look for your favorite character or useful resources that are difficult to obtain on your own.
It turns out that there is a scheme in games: donate money to your account → get a look → what you buy is tied to your account forever.
Settlements within the Metaverse take place in cryptocurrency. For example, in exchanges like Coinbase, you can buy crypto at any time for dollars to invest in something,
- Buy advertising,
- Sell virtual lots,
- Update wardrobe and so on.
By the way, on the Decentraland platform, the cost of a digital piece of land can reach $2.4 million. And rapper Snoop Dogg built a mansion in The Sandbox and sold 1,000 VIP tickets ($5,700 each) to a virtual house concert.
You can also do the opposite: earn cryptocurrency within the Metaverse, to later sell it for euros on the stock exchange, withdraw it to your bank card, or spend it in a supermarket.
It turns out that…
… The Metaverse is an analog of the real world with a full-fledged economic system on the blockchain.
WHO ELSE HANGS OUT IN THE METAVERSE?
So far, there are no full-fledged virtual copies of our world, but some companies are investing huge amounts of money to realize the idea of a Metaverse as quickly as possible. One of them is the Meta company.
Under the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, in 2021 the company launched Horizon Workrooms (virtual co-working) and announced the start of work on the “three-dimensional Internet”, in which people will not consume information, but will be inside it.
“Our next platform will be an even more hypnotic, immersive web where you live the experience rather than looking at it from the outside. In the future, you will be able to instantly teleport in the form of a hologram to be in the office without physical commuting, at a concert with friends, or in the living room of your parent’s house, whom you want to visit,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said and allocated $10 billion for development of Metaverse.
Tech giant Microsoft has not been left out. The company claims that the set of cloud services for organizing the work of the Microsoft Azure team is a corporate Metaverse. Full immersion in the Metaverse, as in the matrix, is not yet available, as the company mixes the real and virtual worlds, creating digital copies of objects.
Microsoft also wants to move to “holoportation” – a method when a person appears in the virtual world in the form of a hologram in the guise of himself.
This is the oldest example of the Metaverse – Second Life. The project was created in 2003 so that users could have an alter ego in the virtual world, rather than transfer their real life online.
Another interesting example that combines both the Metaverse and games is Fortnite. The creators of Epic Games slowly began to turn a successful game into a Metaverse, holding concerts of superstars such as Travis Scott, Ariana Grande, and Billie Eilish.
WHY DO WE NEED A METAVERSE?
From the above explanation, the following question follows: “How will the Metaverse be useful?”. Let’s try to figure it out.
The Metaverse is a communication from any corner of the world. Of course, this is not new, because there are instant messengers, social networks, and video communication services. But the limitless communication in the Metaverse gives us completely new forms of communication: the opportunity to meat across the distance, go to a Cafe, or strike up a new acquaintance with someone, colliding on a virtual street.
A new format of work: The format of communication is changing, and so is the structure of the work. Using the Metaverse, you can cut the cost of a real office and make it online. In addition, many companies are already working remotely. For them, the Metaverse is a good and convenient way to bring employees from different cities together.
Metaverse may also change the field of education. For example, by paying for extra classes and then passing exams, you can become a student, being in the classroom at the teacher’s lesson, not physically, but being an avatar of yourself.
If we talk about marketing, then there is a benefit for the business. For example, you can involve virtual influencers and models. A good example of implementing this method is Lil Michela. This is a virtual model that exists only in social networks, which releases clips, gives interviews, and uploads beautiful photos.
You can also open a store in the digital space to sell both digital and real items in the Metaverse. For example, Gucci created the first virtual pair of sneakers that could be tried on in VR.
You can implement outdoor advertising in the Metaverse and place it in cities on billboards, screens, and flyers – everything is at the discretion of marketers from virtual reality.
Another cool case is to hold events and concerts. Above, we have already talked about the concert of popular artists in the Fortnite game. Now let’s confirm the coolness of this activity with numbers. American DJ Marshmello held his first virtual Fortnite concert in 2019. It was viewed by over 10 million viewers on the platform itself and over 2 million on YouTube, Twitch, and Mixer – all in one day.
Don’t forget blockchain: Buying, selling objects of the Metaverse, and investing – all this can be done in the Metaverse with NFT technology. Items become private property that can always be resold at a bargain price, whether it’s a virtual lot next door to a famous actor or a digital painting.
And of course, you can create your universe and make the space branded, sell your services in the virtual world, and communicate with customers through such an unusual communication channel.
Many experts believe that the Metaverse will soon become a replacement for social networks, but so far this is just an emerging trend.