The world of crypto and crypto-based projects appears to be in a constant state of flux. Ideas become trends, some of which evolve into yet newer concepts. Conversely, many are still-born and never get the momentum needed to get off the ground. Likewise, buzzwords associated with a la mode projects fill the airwaves, with many eventually becoming lost in the crypto word-soup of yesterday’s tech language.
One of the most contemporary ideas being presently put to the test are Metaverses. Taking the working principles of decentralization from the world of the blockchain, and harnessing it to ideas seen in futuristic Hollywood movies, can give everyone a working idea of their possibilities. Rather than a 2D world we can explore via games and cinema, a Metaverse provides a tangible virtual world. One where the user can actually take a stroll through the landscape via any 3D interface. In the same way that science fiction writing drives derivative movies, so these same movie ideas are driving online games.
Consider for a moment, Facebook’s most successful game, Farmville. You could farm your virtual land, grow crops, and breed livestock. Not only that, but by using social media, you could share your aspirations and results with other players. The game had its own currency, Farm Coins and Farm Cash. More than that, there were tie-ins with other real world land-based brands like McDonalds, American Express, Capital One, 7-Eleven and Bing, among many which a farmer could interact with on a real time basis. And yet this game, with 83.76 million active monthly users, came to an inglorious end on Sep 27th, 2020. Everyone got sick of being stuck on a farm. But in some ways, it could well be regarded as part of the beginnings of the first Metaverse.
Due to their age demographic and spending power, gamers always appear to be at the forefront of many new trends. With their dedication and sheer motivation, the gamer community can make ideas happen in many more ways than those investors who merely provide the financials. So, though the practical applications surrounding Metaverses are still in their relative infancy, we can see the future being driven primarily by games developers. They will be designing games and trading assets across multiple Metaverses.
A couple of examples of this are already up and running. Both the Sandbox (SAND) and Decentraland (MANA) are primarily offering an immersive gaming experience. From this we can see other social aspects and experiences branching off. But you can thank blockchain technology and it’s inherently decentralized ideals for helping create these new and exciting worlds.
The fact that the blockchain offers totally seamless peer to peer transactions, makes the possibility of making an infinite game world all the more possible. Through the use of virtual bridges, you can simply teleport data, gameplay and tokens across chains that connect multiple Metaverses. This is no longer a work of fiction. For example, Ubisoft has been instrumental in creating the Blockchain Game Alliance (BGA), with the sole purpose of promoting gaming standards of blockchain interoperability. You’ll find Somnium Space, The Sandbox and Cryptovox all running on the blockchain.
Many of these Mataverses have been created on a fictional platform. An old example would be the worlds of Minecraft. A modern one would be Decentraland. Essentially this is a free, 3D virtual world, which is decentralized, has its own currency and offers artistic and business opportunities. This Metaverse features virtual land that’s divided up into 16 x 16 meters. There are a total of 90,601 of these land tiles and they are minted as NFTs. Once you buy yourself a plot of land, you’re free to develop it as you see fit.
Another interesting player coming into this Metaverse space is Next Earth. They too, are beginning with a virtual land sale. Though what’s different here is that the land is actually that of the real planet Earth. Using Mapbox, the whole planet is divided up into land tiles of 10 x 10 meters. Once purchased, the land is minted into NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. Behind everything lies the idea of creating a totally new and unique business environment, one where virtual businesses can thrive. A new economy that can break free of the shackles of singular ownership with the introduction of the Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), a system whereby only participants can have a say in the project’s ideas and direction.
So now that we’ve covered some business and gaming aspects of these new Metaverses, we should look at some of the social factors, as these will bring the real value of the Metaverse into the family home. In the same way that the kids are playing games and interacting with their friends via their phones and tablets, over streaming social media, we can see a future where 3D is the norm. In the beginning this may well be achieved through the use of Avatars. In fact, we can well imagine that you have a single Avatar that represents the “virtual you” throughout your entire life on any Metaverse. Think of the present day Avatars on Second Life for example. These Avatars can interact with each other as they design, implement and grow their lives in the virtual world. A Metaverse that encompasses both work and play. You can truly live out a double life.
But in some ways, we need to wait for the technology to play catch-up with our ideas. One thing is certain. For the boomers and millennials, all this latest technology seems almost futuristically alien. Many of them have already been left behind. But Generation Z, who have never known life without the internet, have been bred on a steady diet of smartphones and streaming games. Whether gaming via Roblox or Fortnite, they will embrace these Metaverses with ease and have no problem in bringing them up to their full potential as they move seamlessly between the real and virtual worlds.