The metaverse is a shared cyberspace that acts as a virtual layer on top of many areas we’re already used to, whether it’s real estate or art. The metaverse is an evolving ecosystem that will continue to grow as more people use it.
It’s a new frontier that we are all exploring and discovering, but let’s look at two early players blazing trails in this area: Next Earth and Earth 2.
Next Earth is building a virtual world on top of Ethereum. It’s a decentralized platform that allows anyone to create and monetize virtual real estate through NFTs. The Next Earth team has been hard at work building the tools, infrastructure, and developer community needed to make this vision a reality, in addition to recently running the world’s first ITO, or Initial Tile Offering.
In contrast, the goal of Earth 2 is to build a centralized virtual world, where the virtual assets are, at the end of the day, located on central servers instead of being truly user-owned.
Centralized vs. Decentralized Metaverse
Let’s compare and contrast the idea of a centralized versus decentralized metaverse.
Decentralized Metaverse: Next Earth
Decentralized metaverses have been gaining traction in recent months. In a decentralized metaverse, users own their assets and data, and can interact with each other without the need for middlemen like brokers, gatekeepers, or other third parties.
One prominent example of a decentralized metaverse is Next Earth. It’s an immersive virtual world built on Ethereum where users can buy and sell virtual land using NFTs (non-fungible tokens). The NFTs represent parcels of virtual land that are unique because they can only be possessed by one digital token.
On top of all this activity taking place on its platform, Next Earth has been actively building out its community ecosystem with a community referral program to help grow its userbase and expand the metaverse.
One interesting aspect about Next Earth is that it’s not just about owning virtual real estate but also creating art for others to enjoy in the virtual world. This idea of “virtual land art” based on NFT technology was pioneered by Next Earth.
Centralized Metaverse: Earth 2
Now, let’s take a look at Earth 2, a centralized virtual world. The difference between Next Earth and Earth 2 is that Next Earth’s virtual assets are owned by the users, whereas on Earth 2, all of the virtual assets are hosted on central company servers.
What does this mean for you?
Next Earth has been built from scratch to be a fully decentralized platform. This means that every aspect of the platform is open-source and permissionless in order to avoid any single point of failure or control from being taken away from its community.
On top of these technical aspects, Next Earth has also committed itself to run its infrastructure as an environmentally-focused organization through a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), which will ensure that future decisions are made through voting among its community members.
In contrast, Earth 2 is not decentralized at all. Its entire infrastructure is hosted by centralized servers with no open-source code and no way for anyone outside of to modify or take true ownership of assets within their servers.
There’s also no guarantee that they or any third-party hosting provider they use won’t go out of business or get bought out by another company at some point in the future – something that could potentially result in your virtual land being lost forever if you store it on their servers.
All that said, the future of metaverses is going to be both centralized and decentralized applications. In other words, it’s not the case that centralization means a project can’t succeed.
This is why the future of the metaverse isn’t just Next Earth: It’s Earth 2, it’s Sandbox, it’s even Facebook, it’s any other platform that can bring the benefits of shared cyberspaces to a wide range of users. Much like Apple and Microsoft are very different companies, Next Earth and Earth 2 have their differences, but both have the potential to carve out a large niche in the burgeoning metaverse space.