Facebook, a trillion-dollar company with three billion users, recently announced that they’ll pivot towards a “metaverse company.”
This SciFi concept includes everything from virtual avatars to virtual assets, like art NFTs or even digital gold mines.
The problem is that the proposed virtual world will come under the control of one company: Facebook itself.
And many people won’t trust one company with their entire virtual identity. So how do you make a decentralized virtual world that people trust?
Blockchain Virtual Land Projects
A company called Next Earth is taking the challenge head-on, creating a new virtual world owned by its users.
And they’re doing it with some of the same tech used to power everything from Bitcoin to NFTs.
“We aim to show people that there are limitless opportunities in a metaverse, but we also want to give them back control of their data,” says Gábor Rétfalvi, CEO of Next Earth.
The goal: create an open, distributed, and decentralized virtual world where users are in charge of their own identity and assets. Their new tool for building this network? Ethereum.
Blockchains can power a new generation of social networks. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which are centralized platforms, Next Earth is based on a decentralized protocol.
This means that no one owns or controls the entire network. Instead, each user has his or her own copy of the database that stores content like photos and videos as well as connections between users.
When you join Next Earth, everything you own is truly yours to keep: You don’t have to share your personal information; nobody can shut down your account or censor you; no advertisers have access to your data without your consent.
Users have total control over their experience within the universe; no one else can tell them what they can or cannot do.
Because this is essentially a decentralized version of MMO games like Roblox, early adopters are often gamers.
These gamers understand that if someone controls the ruleset for an online game, it becomes impossible for hobbyists like them to dictate terms and play how they want to play.
Control becomes exponentially more important when it comes to an entire virtual world. After all, humans are more and more becoming cyber citizens, with our virtual identities quickly becoming inseparable from our physical lives.
For many, giving up control of a much larger virtual identity to a centralized entity is a ridiculous proposition, which is why decentralized metaverse projects like Next Earth are taking off.
In addition, centralized platforms make users prone to “vendor lock-in,” in which they become dependent on that provider. Decentralized metaverses, on the other hand, enable users to easily travel from one ecosystem to another, such that one metaverse can never control the rest.
That said, Facebook’s metaverse announcement brings many benefits to the nascent industry as well, by raising awareness and fostering an influx of capital. Even if Facebook tries to corner the market, users will always have the freedom to explore decentralized metaverses, lying well outside the controlling grip of centralized companies.
Joining the Decentralized Metaverse
Joining the decentralized metaverse is simple.
On July 22nd, Next Earth started its first distribution phase, in which ultra-early adopters started buying “land packs,” or discounted pricing on land in the new virtual world.
On the 12th of August, users can buy virtual land NFTs directly from a map of the real Earth.
Finally, on August 19th, the public market opens up, representing a full launch of Next Earth, where anyone can not only buy land from the map, but also trade and sell land in a decentralized marketplace.
This is clearly a stark departure from the likes of a centralized metaverse, in which—no matter what the user interface may look like—the centralized entity is always the owner.
In Facebook’s metaverse, Facebook’s servers will own and control a user’s virtual land, virtual assets, virtual identity, and even conversations between users.
For those who want true freedom and ownership, decentralized metaverses are the future, and Next Earth is the opportunity to join that future.