Metaverse: What is Hiding behind This Trending Word

Written by Evgenia Sidorova
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Metaverse: What is Hiding behind This Trending Word
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Today, you can hardly find a person who hasn’t ever heard about the Internet. But this is such a phenomenon that is in constant development and gives us more and more brain teasers. As soon as it looks like nothing could surprise us and it is impossible to invent something completely new about it, we face original concepts and unprecedented implementations. Metaverse is one of the latest sensations that may change our reality.

What is Metaverse?

The origin of this buzzword can be found in Snow Crash, a cyberpunk novel written by Neal Stephenson. In this book, it was characterized as a kind of immersive parallel digital world in which people escape from the bleak reality.

This term once coined by Stephenson is a blend word that consists of two roots. The first one is“meta” which means “outside the normal limits of something” while “verse” stands for the “Universe.” Metaverse may be applied to online worlds where users can wander, interact with other participants, and create the environment they like.

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred public interest in this concept as people had to go online and their activities became mainly virtual.

In 2021, this concept gained a new impetus from Mark Zuckerberg’s desire to transform his company into a kind of metaverse. Furthermore, Facebook was rebranded and became Meta to reflect Zuckerberg’s ambitions to enter the Metaverse.

The Obligatory Features of Metaverse

Don’t think that this is just another synonym for online performance. Not any Internet virtual reality can be defined as Metaverse as it should demonstrate some features such as simultaneity, continuity, availability for all participants, full-fledged economy, extensivity, numerous active participants, and interoperability. Let’s view these features in detail:

  1. Simultaneity. All participants have the same experience and all events take place as they should. Time passes the same way it does IRL.
  2. Continuity. The process is uninterrupted. There are no unexpected breaks or stops, the events always follow their course.
  3. Availability for all participants. It should be available to anyone who wants to participate there.
  4. Full-fledged economy. Strong economic relations should be built between the community members.
  5. Extensivity. This virtual experience should interwind with offline performance covering various aspects of the everyday life of an individual.
  6. Numerous active participants. The performance of this world is supported by the community that develops and organizes it.
  7. Interoperability. The opportunity to transmit data or items within this world.

How to Identify a False Metaverse

Not all digital worlds that pretend to be Metaverses are really they. For example, online games. A game may be a whole universe with its own laws that embraces a great variety of relationships between the players and is filled with diverse projects created in different genres. But it is a basic peculiarity that prevents a game universe from becoming a metaverse.

Ultimately, any game has its final objective. By contrast, the Metaverse shall not be subjected to specific goals as it is a totally new experience that we haven’t ever had. Ideally, it combines aspects of various solutions including social media, virtual reality, augmented reality, online gaming,  and cryptocurrencies. It gives the opportunity to interact in different ways virtually. In simple words, this is a virtual space where users can communicate, make shopping, carry out business, learn new and interesting things, be inspired and create.

How does It Function?

Today, some platforms have already come close to this concept though there are significant disagreements on what can be actually determined as a metaverse.

There are two types of such projects. Some of them are based on gaming elements and involve using NFTs and cryptocurrencies for their development. Examples of these projects are Decentraland or The Sandbox.

The other type implies a more general view of a virtual space where users may interact with each other for business or entertainment. Meta seems to offer such a product.

As this is a place where digital and physical worlds converge, digital assets may gain real value there.

What is Possible to Do Here?

There are a lot of options for different experiences at the moment. Virtual shopping, traveling, games, education, and entertainment are available for those who want to change real performance for digital.

If you need to do business, VR platforms like Mozilla Hubs give you an opportunity to meet and collaborate with remote colleagues.

Shopping as One of the Activities

Shopping is always one of the attractions of the real world so it still remains attractive in VR providing endless opportunities for users. As one of the obligatory features of the metaverse is an advanced economy, many of these worlds offer numerous digital items, especially in games. In fact, you can sell and buy anything you want but the most popular objects for digital trade are

  1. land property
  2. real estate
  3. NFT collectibles
  4. virtual accessories for the user’s avatar
  5. access to entertainment and virtual events

In some cases, you can buy physical items that exist IRL using virtual opportunities, but in other cases, these items are absolutely virtual.

Crypto Coins and NFTs as a Part of This Reality

E-commerce and social interaction are the basic points where blockchain fully reveals its potential. The rights to digital items can be ensured by NFTs (non-fungible tokens) that may take various forms. And it is impossible to avoid the question of money that fuels these digital economies.

There are three primary forms of currency that circulate on these platforms: cryptocurrencies built on blockchain, non-blockchain digital money, and fiats. So what is Metaverse crypto? What crypto is metaverse going to use? Let’s view some examples of metaverse projects that utilize their own crypto coins to make their economies work.

The Sandbox

This is an Ethereum-based game platform that allows players to monetize their assets and gaming experience. Actually, this is a decentralized analog of Minecraft and Roblox built on blockchain. Players mint virtual assets in the form of NFTs and develop unique worlds using various elements: water, people, land, technics, etc. The native token of the platform is SAND. It is used as a currency for trade within the game.

Decentraland

This is another platform built on Ethereum. Its participants have an opportunity to buy and sell digital land using the platform’s native token MANA. This token also gives a right to participate in DAO to its owners.

Axie Infinity

Axie Infinity is a game on blockchain that is centered around virtual pets — Axies. Players can fight in PvP and PvE modes to earn AXS tokens which are necessary to grow pets and make real money. Each pet is unique and has its own advantages and disadvantages. Pets exist in the form of NFTs and belong to their players.

Crypto Baristas

This project is designed to build a community in between the real and digital worlds uniting those who share interests in coffee and NFTs. This is a virtual place where coffee nerds can meet in a friendly digital environment. At the same time, the project aims to fund an existent café in New York City. This is a provocative example of how the metaverse interwinds with real life.

What are the Challenges?

There are some basic concepts of Metaverse but they are not generally accepted by all its developers and supporters and are still debated. One of them is about the issue of a single “avatar.” This means that the user’s digital identity in the metaverse’s virtual space, which is their virtual representation, would remain the same for any platform or service. This sounds reasonable but unreal as any industry leader will rely on their own system of identification.

Another hot topic is the problem of decentralization. On this issue, opinions are particularly polar and range from absolute decentralization up to one single operator.

Who Else Except FB?

Our readers may get the impression that ex-Facebook (currently Meta) is the only strong supporter among big players on the market. In fact, it is not. Many serious companies show their interest in this topic and want to make their contribution to its development.

Who are they? Microsoft, Nvidia, Epic Games, Roblox, a number of consumer brands. All of them implement some options intrinsic to the new digital reality.

Who is Able to Create the Metaverse?

This task seems to be too global to be carried out without powerful corporations. The list of potential leaders includes Meta, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon.

Yet that’s just the rough idea of the digital reality transformation so we cannot confidently declare the potential leaders of these transformations. Maybe, there will be no apparent leader and we’ll see the result of the consolidation and amalgamation of different forces.

A Few Words for Crypto Investors

Many cryptocurrency holders wonder what crypto is used in the metaverse and if it is worth investment.

Tokens that circulate in such projects have a very important peculiarity. Their main purpose is not generating profit. They are used to buy and sell digital items in virtual worlds or participate in projects. At the same time, their subjective value leads to high volatility which makes them an investment with an extremely interesting potential return. They are worth your attention especially if you are interested in online games.


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