The metaverse is an online, immersive space that connects its users' digital and real-world lives. By incorporating technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and blockchain, the metaverse offers new digital ways to work, socialize, and relax.
Projects like Decentraland and SecondLive are already experimenting with play-to-earn games and other blockchain applications, enabling communities to gather around, work, and build toward common goals. In addition, tech giants are building their metaverses to keep up with the trend.
While there can be many metaverses, they would all benefit if they could connect with each other. Blockchain technology offers a unique way to metaverse interoperability. This could potentially enable users to move cryptocurrencies, items, and other digital assets between the metaverses.
The metaverse is one of the words people mention when considering the future of technology, cryptocurrencies, and the Internet. The metaverse is not fully here yet, but it's noticeable that small projects and global companies are striving to build the future of digital spaces.
What is the metaverse?
The metaverse is a concept of connected, virtual universes that are explorable via 3D avatars. You can think of it as the next evolution of the Internet, with more immersive and interactive online experiences.
The metaverse incorporates technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and blockchain. While AR enables users to morph digital visual elements into the real world using a camera, VR produces computer-generated virtual environments that users explore through VR headsets. Meanwhile, blockchain technology enables properties of digital proof of ownership, digital collectibility, and transfer of value.
NFT platforms like the Binance NFT Marketplace are also contributing to the development of the gaming metaverse by providing the link between gaming projects and crypto communities. In addition, the community-driven BNB Smart Chain (BSC) hosts various metaverse projects. Also, Fortnite has developed a metaverse platform that has connected over 350 million players in its virtual world.
Even though the metaverse is still under development, it will likely expand beyond gaming platforms. For example, applications in digital identity, remote working, and decentralized governance are just some potential sectors that could benefit from the metaverse.
What can be done in the metaverse?
The metaverse creates shared virtual spaces that combine the physical and digital. For example, businesses could start using the metaverse for hosting mixed reality meetings using VR headsets or signing contracts without being physically in the same place.
Similarly, you could do groceries by interacting with virtual aisles, showcase your NFT collections to virtual buddies, and visit art exhibitions without leaving the cozy of your home.
Play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity and work socialization tools like Gather.town already prove working aspects of the virtual worlds possible. They invite users to have fun, meet people, transact using digital currencies, and even earn a living.
Decentraland, on the other hand, is an online, digital world that successfully mixes social elements with cryptocurrencies and NFTs, representing anything from cosmetic collectibles to virtual real estate. For example, a player can use Decentraland's native cryptocurrency, MANA, to purchase 16x16 meter land parcels that are issued as NFTs (non-fungible tokens) on the Ethereum blockchain.
Finally, the metaverse enables human collectives to gather around shared interests. For example, Fortnite famously hosted Travis Scott's virtual Astronomical concert with over 12 million listeners worldwide. In contrast to a regular concert, gamers could interact with the famous rapper with their avatars and enjoy animated, 3D visuals.
Is there just one metaverse?
The metaverse concept suggests that there is one common and shared virtual ground that everybody shares. But, as we have seen, there can be various metaverses that are separate from each other.
Therefore each metaverse has a specific function in the collective of metaverses. In the same way, as each social media platform provides specific services to its users, metaverses offer distinct virtual possibilities. Likewise to earlier examples, one metaverse could concentrate on gaming while others on meetups or concerts.
Crypto metaverse projects like Axie Infinity, Decentraland, and SecondLive each have their unique approach to building metaverse. In addition to blockchain-based metaverses, big tech is moving forward with the metaverse narrative. For example, Facebook changed its name to Meta and invested billions of dollars in developing metaverse content, software, and AR and VR headsets. Likewise, big companies like Microsoft, Google, and Tencent are building metaverse and are entering the space by developing new technologies.
Ideally, the various metaverses should become interoperable. Metaverse interoperability means one or more metaverses could easily interact and exchange data. Interoperable metaverses would allow users to move assets from one metaverse to another, including NFTs and cryptocurrencies.
Many developers and protocols are betting on blockchain technology to connect metaverses. Firstly, it’s decentralized and transparent. And secondly, it can offer digital proof of ownership, authenticity, transfer of value, and accessibility.
For example, if two play-to-earn games were interoperable and built on the same blockchain, players could switch between them, and their virtual items could be established and secured in both games. In other words, users could use their guns, skins, and other in-game items in both virtual worlds. There is also the possibility of using blockchain bridges to move cryptocurrencies and other digital assets across different blockchain networks.
The future web of metaverses
The metaverse is still in the early phases of its development. No one knows how it will play out, but it's undoubtedly a technology sector that attracts capital and developers' attention. As mentioned, the metaverse will probably consist of several individual metaverses. Nevertheless, technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrencies will likely play a central role in connecting multiple virtual worlds.
In the long run, we may see various metaverses with different purposes becoming part of a single metaverse. Creating a web of different metaverses could also encourage further adoption.
The metaverse continues to grow as new projects come to the market and the existing ones develop new functionalities and services. The crypto space already has successful metaverse projects, including blockchain-native ones like Decentraland, as well as players from the traditional markets like Fortnite and Meta. With the advancement of AR, VR, blockchain, and other technologies, we will likely see exciting new virtual, borderless metaverses rising.