Metaverse – What is it and why you should know?

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What is the metaverse?

The term metaverse was first coined by Neal Stephenson in 1992. A renowned science fiction author, Stephenson mentioned it in his book Snow Crash. It was supposed to depict a universe that is computer-generated and highly immersive. This would be the realm where people will meet in the virtual work for work, socializing and entertainment, among others.

Who is on board the Metaverse?

In 2021, social media giant Facebook announced that they are changing their name to Meta. However, this is not a new thing where others like Second Life (by Linden Lab) have been in existence since 2003. Meanwhile, Epic (developer of Fortnite) recently raised funds of US$1 billion to further expand its online gaming platform. With the big players on board, the Metaverse’s market became the ‘next big thing’.

Why is the Metaverse so talked about now?

Many have linked the metaverse to Web 3.0 which essentially is the next phase of the internet. Web 3.0 is set to move with blockchains where access becomes democratized. When this happens, the control over the internet by the large tech firms is less. That is the reason why a lot of those big companies are turning into the metaverse. While Facebook is going all out to be part of this, others too are joining the bandwagon including Microsoft.

What will the metaverse bring to the users?

Among the biggest effects, the metaverse will bring is in computing power. This is already evident where large-scale distributed computing is occurring with tens of thousands of players interacting on a platform simultaneously like those by Improbable and Hadean. This paves the way forward to more companies including those that are looking to host events like concerts and sporting shows. Such was the extend of this scenario when Lil Nas X hosted a Roblox concert that garnered more than 30 million views. Furthermore, new commercial opportunities are also opening up with the rising popularity of digital assets like NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) and cryptocurrencies.

Is the Metaverse all about gaming?

Games would be the biggest catalyst having involved multi-player environments from the start. It is presumed that the metaverse’s early beginnings stemmed from those virtual worlds and with more powerful machines today, it can transcend to other environments including work and social.

  • Stage11, a Paris-based startup recently announced its multi-million seed investment that will see them build an immersive music experience for the metaverse. Stage11 announced that it will be working with big names like Ne-Yo, Snoop Dogg and David Guette.
  • Gravity Sketch meanwhile launched a virtual room for designers to work together remotely to collaborate on designs.
  • Warpin, a Swedish tech firm built Kry which provided virtual scenarios to help treat patients with social problems.

Are there any risks of the metaverse?

Like the many other platforms that came before it, legal issues would be the biggest concern. There have been several cases involving intellectual property, content management and data protection, to name a few. Since it is a growing entity, a lot of investors are finding it hard to figure out where to put their money into. Unlike the previous practice of investing in tech companies, not every company that develops a metaverse will be successful. Meanwhile, some companies face the challenge of maintaining their identity in the highly-fragmented environment. That is the very reason Facebook is trying to do, by building a metaverse that covers all its elements.

What could happen in the near future? Would Facebook or Microsoft dominate the metaverse?

At face value, it looks as if a numbered few will try to move in to control the metaverse. Facebook’s Meta seeks to promote a centralized control system on the ecosystem. Meanwhile, blockchains have already been active with a healthy community that works along with decentralization and openness. This shows that there is a long way to go before anyone can take possibly dominate the metaverse segment if it is even possible.

What is the way forward for the metaverse from now on?

The biggest move would surely be from Facebook which through the ‘statement of intent’ changed its name to Meta. However, it can still be assumed that the metaverse is very much in its infancy. New companies are coming out to join the bandwagon while the big tech firms are also onboard if they haven’t already done so. The way forward is very much the metaverse and with the countless possibility of what it can bring to businesses, it is expected that this market continues to grow steadily, if not exponentially.

Buying land in the metaverse, is it real?

When it comes to property and real estate, it will always make investors take notice, whether it is physical or otherwise. With the metaverse, more and more people are putting their money on virtual investments. If this is the place where one will live and socialize, it is no surprise that one might just spend money on virtual land. In a record-breaking move, US$4.3 million was spent by Republic Realm to own a piece of digital land through The Sandbox, said to be among the most active virtual worlds around today.

  • Besides that, Tokens.com, a crypto company spent US$2.4 million on digital land through Decentraland. This would be on the Fashion Street district which is set to grow into a virtual shopping space for luxury brands.
  • To further show how this is important and relevant, the country Barbados is set to open a ‘metaverse embassy’ on the Decentraland platform.
  • Apart from The Sandbox and Decentraland, other platforms include Somnium Space and CryptoVoxels.

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