What Is the Metaverse: Your Guide to Virtual Worlds
In recent years, technology has developed in leaps and bounds, becoming an essential part of our lives and enabling us to work and communicate with each other from almost anywhere in the world. Ongoing changes in the technology sector take over the world by storm every year.
One of the exciting changes that our civilization will experience is the development of the metaverse, which has already been pushed to the forefront with its technological innovations and concepts and is set to meaningfully change the nature of work and social relations in many ways. In this article, we explore the metaverse and discover its promises for the future.
What Is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a network of immersive three-dimensional virtual worlds that exist in real-time, including physical world objects. It allows the users to create avatars, live, work, interact with each other, and explore the environments through game consoles, PCs, VR headsets, AR glasses, and more.
Many tech giants and brands are investing money in converting this concept into a reality, but it remains a confusing and complex idea for many people. Some see it as Web 3.0, the next evolution of the World Wide Web, while others see it as a VR video game. Overall, it has left the world wondering – what exactly is the metaverse?
Is the Metaverse AR, VR, or Extended Reality?
Is it XR, VR or maybe the metaverse is a blockchain or augmented reality AR, VR, and XR are the metaverse cornerstones that help take the virtual reality experience to the next level. Is Each of these technologies has unique features that combine to create the three-dimensional virtual environments of the metaverse platforms with their targeted functionalities.
Is Metaverse Similar to Second Life?
Second Life (SL) is often referred to as the first example of the metaverse. It’s an online 3D virtual world and a multimedia platform that was created almost two decades ago, long before the time people started paying attention to the metaverse due to Facebook.
It doesn’t have any goals or objectives. It supports various human activities within the games, such as swimming, traveling to different places with just one click, participating in multiple exhibitions and music shows, buying land, selling real estate, and trading goods in the in-world currency, the Linden Dollar.
However, Second Life is not what the metaverse represents nowadays. The metaverse consists of immersive virtual environments that can be accessed via VR headsets; Second Life is not optimized for them. It has a bit primitive format and is deficient in features for the metaverse.
Is the Metaverse Simulated Reality?
The metaverse is the virtual twin of the natural world, an embodied virtual-reality experience where simulation meets reality. It features interactive simulations, but they’re not as indistinguishable from the experience of actuality as in simulated realities. Unlike simulated reality, virtual reality only replaces the real world with a virtual one in an easily distinguishable way.
Is the Metaverse Just Video Games?
Although some video games feature metaverse-like virtual worlds and environments, and the metaverse itself includes play-to-earn games and ideas that already exist in gaming, it’s undoubtedly more vast than a video game.
It combines virtual and physical worlds and integrates activities that are not present in video games, such as shopping for both virtual and real-world products, purchasing land and monetizing it, investing in cryptocurrencies, attending concerts, taking virtual classes, creating games and earning money by playing play-to-earn games, interacting with others and working together in real-time, and so on.
Unlike video games, the metaverse is continuous; it doesn’t have pauses, resets, or game-overs, and most characters are real people who are the owners of their entire experience.
Is it a Social Network or There is More?
Simply put, the metaverse is a network of virtual worlds focused on social connection. It combines virtual and physical worlds, social media, different cryptocurrencies, online gaming, and most importantly, virtual communication. You can sit in your home and be present in another one, where you can interact with people and work, or have fun.
What is a Metaverse Example?
Although interest in the metaverse rose in 2021 due to Facebook announcing its rebrand to Meta and planning to focus on the metaverse, the concept of escaping into a virtual world parallel to the real world has been around for many years, even decades. Moreover, Facebook is working on creating a set of digital spaces on similar lines to the metaverse of a novel called Ready Player One.
Ready Player One, a 2011 science fiction novel by American author Ernest Cline, is perhaps one of the most well-known examples of the metaverse. The story is about the world being gripped by an energy crisis in 2045: global warming, pollution, and overpopulation. The only way to escape it is through a metaverse called OASIS, where they establish their digital identity and own virtual resources, interact, work, undertake quests, win battles, and so on. The OASIS is accessible for free by players using VR headsets and haptic technology such as wired gloves.
The novel has a movie adaptation of the same name that can help to understand, visualize and get a glimpse of how the metaverse looks and what it offers.
How do Cryptos Fit Into the Metaverse?
The metaverse and cryptocurrencies are two different concepts that exist separately but combine to assemble virtual worlds with fully-fledged virtual economies that’ll become an essential part of the third generation of the evolution of web technologies. The metaverse allows users to buy physical-world items and sell virtual land parcels that require transactions to pay for virtual goods and services, enter blockchain, buy crypto assets, and different types of NFTs.
What is Metaverse Crypto?
Metaverse crypto, also known as metaverse entropy (ETP), is the native virtual currency of the metaverse blockchain, used to value smart contracts on the network. Most of the best Metaverse projects are built on top of blockchain protocols that provide access to the virtual world without the interference of centralized institutions.
Cryptocurrency is the only accepted currency in the metaverse. It operates as money used for purchasing everything, including avatar clothes, investing virtual real estate and NFTs, unique non-fungible tokens that act as proof of ownership and help users to gain access to specific areas of the metaverse.
Blockchain enables users to protect and own their digital assets in the virtual world of the metaverse. It records transaction data and allows individuals to conduct secure, virtual, and protected transactions utilizing crypto.
Is There a Metaverse Coin?
Each metaverse, ranging from virtual games to non-fungible token marketplaces, has its own set of currency that can be used to make purchases within that particular environment. These coins have value both inside and outside the metaverse and are even listed on certain coin exchanges.
Several metaverse projects are based on Ethereum’s blockchain technology, the native cryptocurrency of which is Ether. Native cryptocurrencies or metaverse coins can be used to buy in-game assets or items that can be traded with other players.
Which Metaverse Coin is Best?
Metaverse coins are given to players as rewards in play-to-earn games within the virtual world; some are even worth billions of dollars and can be bought and traded in the marketplace. However, since many metaverse projects are new, some coin prices are low, which opens the investment opportunity for anyone.
Listed below are the top metaverse coins in the market today according to CoinMarketCap.
What's the Metaverse Like Right Now?
The metaverse as we know it today doesn’t have a long history. The term “metaverse” was first mentioned in 1992 in the science fiction novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, where it referred to a virtual world called “Metaverse,” and ever since then, the metaverse has been seen as the future of technologies and the internet.
The interest in the metaverse concept is rapidly growing, and many companies are working on creating virtual worlds that could potentially replace social networks, face-to-face experiences, or even reality. Right now, there’s a massive increase in metaverse projects developing in sectors like entertainment, education, gaming, retail, and much more.
What Metaverses Exist Already?
After reading all above, check what Metaverses you can join right now:
Decentraland is the first decentralized 3D VR browser-based platform and role-playing metaverse built on the Ethereum blockchain, where players live in a simulated world, monetize assets, buy virtual property, and make money in the metaverse through different platforms. Players trade their digital assets in Decentraland’s marketplace, buy goods and services, and sell or exchange LAND using the MANA ERC-20 token, which powers the Decentraland metaverse.
The Sandbox is another decentralized gaming platform and an Ethereum-based multiplayer metaverse that allows players to purchase, sell, trade digital assets, buy land, and build their properties in the virtual world. SAND, LAND, ASSETS, Catalysts, and Gems are all ERC-20 tokens that power The Sandbox and allow users to acquire ownership rights over specific properties.
The Bloktopia metaverse platform features a 21-story VR skyscraper to honor Bitcoin’s 21 million supply. Each level represents one million Bitcoin supply and features different presentations of NFT projects, exchanges, and crypto companies. Players can participate in the gaming activities taking place on the last floor of the building, receive BLOK, which is Bloktopia’s token, and participate in these presentations.
Axie Infinity is a Pokemon-inspired and Ethereum-based gaming metaverse platform that features magical creatures called Axies. Players generate Axies and use them in different situations like battles and wars. These creatures are non-fungible tokens, and players carry proof of their ownership.
Illuvium is an Ethereum-based RPG and NFT collector game that takes place in an open world and features creatures called illuvials that must be captured and collected by players. Every captured creature and farmed material is a minted NFT that can be sold and traded on the IlluviDEX, Illuvium’s NFT marketplace. Illuvium also has two altcoins on Ethereum: ILV and sILV.
Cryptovoxels is a virtual world built on the Ethereum blockchain that focuses on property ownership. Players purchase land parcels using NFT blockchain technology, interact with each other, visit other properties, build structures with Voxels, and even display their NFT collections in the buildings.
Traverse is a browser-based and NFT-based open-world metaverse that functions as an action-packed massively multiplayer online game but also has social features. Players can exchange assets or trade weapons and turn them into NFTs for sale in the marketplace.
Star Atlas is a play-to-earn metaverse built on the Solana blockchain that features space exploration and territorial conquest. Players time travel to 2620, engage in battles to fight for resources, buy and sell ships in Star Atlas’ NFT marketplace, and trade and create non-fungible tokens.
How to Enter the Metaverse?
Entering the Metaverse is not as complicated as it may seem. Although you can join and access metaverse platforms at any time using your smartphone or a laptop, they’ll only give you a sneak peek of the whole Metaverse experience. You can purchase a VR headset like Oculus Quest 2 and AR smart glasses to get a better taste of everything that Metaverse provides.
Several platforms have various ways to access them and require multiple things since they are built on different blockchains and have unique environments. Still, to join any of them, you’ll need your avatar on the platform.
Avatars are an inseparable part of the Metaverse. When you exist in the virtual world, you must have an identity. So, to put it simply, avatars are the users’ digital representatives in the virtual world. You can customize your 3D avatar how you want to by changing your hair color, eye color, and body type by adding minor details such as moles, tattoos, and accessories to make your avatar represent you the best.
What You Can Do in the Metaverse?
After creating your avatar, you are free to explore the virtual world. The Metaverse is not a single virtual world; it includes several worlds with limitless opportunities for social interactions, and a wide range of activities players can indulge in.
Entertainment is an integral part of the Metaverse. The list of entertaining activities is endless, from attending concerts, competitions, art exhibitions, music shows, and sporting events to playing games and earning money, hanging out with friends, and traveling the world by teleporting yourself to different locations with just one click, without worrying about capacity issues. You can also work with your colleagues in your virtual office; not an entertaining activity but still highly motivating.
Once you’ve set up your crypto wallet and exchanged your physical money into cryptocurrencies, you can also visit shops and buy different products using an exchange like Coinbase or Binance to make the conversion.
You can buy virtual land parcels, be an entrepreneur, an artist, a designer, or anyone you want to be, and construct a building to display your artworks, products, or NFT purchases there. Or you can sell and lease your land to a property developer for profit which is a pretty popular thing to do in the Metaverse.
What Is the Use of the Metaverse?
The actual use of the metaverse is to make global conversation possible for billions of people worldwide. It breaches borders of distance and offers an opportunity to create virtual communities, work, and have fun in its alternative virtual worlds where everything becomes possible.
The metaverse retains in-person interaction, which is especially important in work environments. Although it’s possible to work from home by making video calls using mobile phones, computer screens, and microphones, the metaverse provides perfect virtual work environments where people can work with their colleagues and have immersive meetings in real-time using their 3D avatars, which reduces the challenges of remote work.
Will the Metaverse Change the World?
Every innovation, big or small, changes our world, and the metaverse is no exception. It has already opened up opportunities for everyone, starting from users who can interact with each other, go out and attend concerts from the comfort of their homes to big companies who can sell, advertise and develop their products in the virtual worlds. The metaverse is heavily impacting every industry, but what awaits them in the future?
Metaverse and NFTs
NFTs have restored the art market by being in charge of pricing digital forms of art with proof of ownership, which will open up many possibilities in the coming metaverses. They help to create an identity and have social experiences within the metaverse, as well as to purchase or sell digital assets such as artworks and real estate. They also power interoperable play-to-earn blockchain games, the economy of which will allow players to be more involved in the metaverse.
Users can trade their assets through NFTs to ensure they retain their value. As more investors enter the metaverse, the value of all NFTs is expected to grow extensively in the coming years.
Metaverse and Blockchain
Blockchain is required to guarantee the digital proof of ownership, the governance, accessibility, and interoperability of data in the metaverse, the importance of which is rapidly growing. It’s transforming the world of finance and the global economy by eliminating the inefficiencies of centralized systems, offering faster transaction processes, and revolutionizing digital properties.
Blockchain helps to develop an ecosystem that enables users of the metaverse to own, create, monetize and protect their digital assets and provides an opportunity for brands to distribute their products in virtual reality, which will be the key to the future of their interactions with customers.
Metaverse and Business
The metaverse concept introduces a lot of potential, and businesses from a wide variety of industries could benefit from the popularity of virtual reality and the opportunities it offers, and many people can become rich in the metaverse.
Businesses must have a digital presence and interact with their customers. The metaverse allows them to level up customer engagement by providing information in new and unique ways. Businesses can buy up space in the digital world and build their stores to bring unique experiences to customers.
Metaverse and Marketing
The future of marketing lies in AR and VR, which will impact the customer journey by bringing marketers closer to consumers in ways that have never been seen before. The metaverse gives brands freedom in how they want to advertise and sell their digitized products and services and increases their visibility in the virtual world.
The metaverse is still new, so it can support growing environments and help them reach new limits. Marketers can create interactive content in the virtual worlds and target different audiences by allowing exploration, discovery, and encouraging participation.
Metaverse and Fashion
Numerous fashion brands became interested in the metaverse. They noticed its massive potential after the lifestyle changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made them realize that sooner or later, there will be an increased dependency on digital technologies and digitalized data. The metaverse gives fashion brands opportunities to attract customers from all over the world and also experiment with designs before product launches.
Presently, your avatar can try on any piece of clothing; you can easily take a 360-degree look at clothes and buy them from their official virtual stores in the metaverse. And since you’re purchasing digital clothes in a virtual world, where clothes are displayed as virtual assets, you’ll have to make payments using cryptocurrencies or NFTs.
The metaverse is set to increase online purchases by making the difference between virtual e-commerce and in-store shopping experiences smaller. It will continue providing exciting opportunities to fashion brands and to every company bringing products and services into the virtual worlds.
Metaverse and Sport
Attending sporting events, enjoying the arena’s atmosphere, meeting famous players, and walking on the field alongside them during matches without ever leaving your room may become the norm for millions of people in a few years.
The metaverse allows sports enthusiasts to come together with their virtual avatars and watch games and sporting events while being physically miles away from each other. You can also exercise in the metaverse without being interrupted and distracted by other people.
The metaverse will revolutionize the way viewers consume sports. Many sports organizations and famous teams like The Manchester City are already working together on developing sporting events and creating virtual stadiums in the metaverse.
Metaverse and Gaming
Although many video games have metaverse-like features, players from all over the world are entering the metaverse that has already shown a potential to change the gaming industry with its realistic and immersive virtual worlds and its ability to connect players, who can also create their unique environments with advanced graphics and tools.
Metaverse and Education
Online learning has become an integral part of contemporary education, and the metaverse offers new ways to make distance learning more engaging for students and teachers.
The endless virtual possibilities of the metaverse will allow players to retain knowledge better by meeting up in a virtual world via their avatars and even time-traveling to places from the past regardless of their real-life locations.
Metaverse and Healthcare
The metaverse is rapidly gaining traction in the healthcare industry by allowing medical education, planning, and collaborative medical procedures with the help of augmented reality and virtual reality. It can significantly impact surgery performances and help to plan them by giving doctors a 3D view of patients’ bodies, which students can also use to experience the content they need to understand.
VR can be a distraction to combat pain and help patients focus less on it. It can also help patients receive medical treatment from doctors in real-time in different locations.
Metaverse and Sustainability
The metaverse has a significant impact on the environment, both positive and negative. Even though it decreases air pollution emitted from transportation by replacing real-life interactions with virtual ones, it’s still powered by AI and cloud services that consume large quantities of energy which could lead to an influx of greenhouse gas emissions.
Metaverse companies and big corporations must find eco-friendly ways of building virtual worlds and take a step toward increasing their sustainability.
What are Metaverse Technologies?
It wouldn’t have been possible for the Metaverse to offer a top-notch immersive experience without its fundamental technologies.
These technologies include:
Metaverse platforms can be accessed not only through virtual reality headsets but also through computers, laptops, and mobile devices. However, VR devices allow users to move their heads or walk around in their physical environments to navigate their avatars and fully experience everything in the virtual world.
Virtual reality (VR) systems use VR headsets that immerse users within a virtual world on metaverse platforms and replace a real-life environment with a simulated one.
On the other hand, augmented reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view via smartphones or AR headsets and projects information in the form of images, sounds, or texts on top of what users are already seeing.
VR and AR are considered subcategories of XR, which covers technologies that merge the virtual and physical world and incorporate the concepts of virtual, augmented, and mixed realities.
Telecoms and 5G, the fifth generation of wireless technology, play a crucial role in the development of the metaverse. Connecting to the metaverse requires fast online speed and the availability of 5G networks opens up many possibilities in the metaverse, especially in augmented reality (AR), with its services that provide mobility, reliability, ultralow latency and superior multi-Gbps peak data speeds.
Along with 5G, AR/VR, and blockchain, edge computing plays another pivotal role in the metaverse development by putting applications and data as close to users as possible instead of data center sites far from the end-point. Edge computing gives users the necessary computing power the metaverse requires. It reduces service latency, collects and saves a wide range of data, secures and moves them to the best place for processing, and solves other security concerns at all the network levels.
The accuracy of the Metaverse’s virtual worlds mostly depends on its use of Artificial Intelligence. AI is used to create users’ avatars by analyzing 2D images and 3D scans, to make 3D versions of chatbots, also known as digital humans or non-playing characters, to process and translate different languages, and to make every user’s experience easy during social interactions in the virtual worlds.
Internet of Things
Internet of things in the metaverse refers to a network of technologies that connect the physical world to the 3D virtual world through various real-life devices such as voice-activated speakers, sensors and gadgets. It also acts as a 3D user interface for these devices. IoT enables the metaverse to interact with the real world by mapping accurate data from real life and emerging it into virtual reality.
Metaverse is all about three-dimensional virtual worlds, and as expected, 3D reconstruction is an essential part of it. Technologies such as 3D cameras are used to capture the shape and appearance of various objects and buildings to create simulations that will represent the physical world in the metaverse.
What Metaverse Companies are There?
Below are some of the best companies pouring millions of dollars to bring the metaverse to life.
Meta Platforms Inc.
As already mentioned, “metaverse” became a buzzword and spread through the internet when Facebook rebranded itself as Meta Platforms and spent billions of dollars building its metaverse. The company has already launched Horizon Worlds, a virtual reality video game, access to which is possible via Meta’s Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets.
Roblox is another video game company founded in 2004 that focuses on building a metaverse for players to do much more than just gaming. It works towards creating a platform where players can use virtual avatars to socialize.
Tencent Holdings Limited
Tencent Holdings Limited is a Chinese gaming company and a multiservice provider focusing on building a metaverse via its game development wing “Tencent Games.” Tencent also owns a 40% stake in Epic Games, an American video game developer based in Cary.
Epic Games is one of the top companies building a metaverse and the developer of Fortnite, one of the most successful online games and one of the closest things to the metaverse that exists today. Fortine has featured celebrities like Travis Scott and Ariana Grande in virtual concerts that take place in Fortnite’s universe.
Epic announced a $1 million investment for the metaverse development in 2021 and partnered with Sony, the parent company of LEGO that invested $2 billion to help build the metaverse aimed at kids.
Unity Software Inc.
Unity Software is another video game development company that provides software solutions to build and monetize an interactive real-time 3D platform and aims to play an essential role in metaverse development. Unity Software is partnering with Insomniac Events, a company that organizes music festivals, to build a virtual world where Insomniac’s fans will gather and virtually attend live concerts.
Is it Safe to Be in the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a relatively new concept with many benefits and exciting features. However, even when the virtual worlds seem safe, it’s essential to acknowledge the danger that they may contain. Significant risks such as identity theft, access to private information, and social-connection-related and digital-funds-related risks raise several security challenges in the metaverse.
Since anonymity is a significant component of the metaverse, you’ll never know whom you’re interacting with since there are no obstacles to people pretending to be someone else behind different avatars. Users can be verbally harassed, bullied, or even touched, and there won’t be a possibility to bring harassers face-to-face with victims.
Also, since the metaverse depends on VR and AR devices equipped with cameras and unique identifiers, your private information may not be entirely safe in the virtual world. When you enter the metaverse, life in the virtual world eventually starts to feel the same as in the physical world, and so does crime.
Who Controls the Metaverse’s Laws?
There are no laws and legal implications in the metaverse. Although several companies build their virtual worlds, the metaverse itself isn’t owned by anyone, and users are the only people in control of their lives in the digital world.
How to Make the Metaverse a Safer Place?
While some of the risks in the metaverse might not be prevented until there’s a clear answer on how to make it a better and safer place for users, many metaverse companies are starting to develop safety strategies to reduce the risk of users getting harassed in the virtual worlds.
Metaverse developers are turning their focus on designing and launching personalized virtual worlds with features that will make the metaverse secure for everyone to enter. Most metaverse games have already added features that allow users to report and mute others and keep the virtual environments safe for everyone in the game.
Will Metaverse Replace Reality
The metaverse concept is to innovate how people interact with each other and give them endless unparalleled opportunities. As it continues to expand, it will immerse more and more users in its virtual worlds and become increasingly important in various industries.
Although there’s no way of knowing what will change society since it’s still in the early stages of development, it will always only act as a bridge between the physical world and virtual reality and give people an alternate world to coexist in.
Big Corporations Future Plans for the Metaverse
The metaverse will be created by several companies, creators, and developers working together to bring the best possible version of the future. Right now, there are multiple metaverses built by different companies that want to possess a big slice of the future economy.
In the future, the goal of these companies is to connect the existing metaverses and allow users to carry their avatars and digital assets and move from one metaverse to another. It’s safe to say that it will be the beginning of the next chapter of the internet, the future of which will be beyond anything we can ever imagine.