What Is the Metaverse, and Why Does It Matter to the Crypto Space?
The concept of a metaverse first came from the fertile imaginations of fiction writers, who brought us such works as Snow Crash, Neuromancer, Ready Player One and The Matrix franchise. The term “meta” means “beyond,” while “verse” references the universe. In other words, the metaverse propels us to a space beyond the universe, taking us to new planes of existence and new experiences in virtual reality.
The metaverse is a newly imagined augmented reality where we can meet virtually and explore realms beyond the reach of the physical. In the metaverse, we’ll be able to enjoy a completely immersive experience while collaborating and interacting with others.
While today’s metaverse is largely centered on gaming platforms, there are other tools and options as well, including:
- Workplace tools
- Social media platforms
- Investment tools
- Festivals and events
The metaverse is not a new concept, but interest in it soared when Facebook entered the market and rebranding themselves to Meta, creating hype in the crypto scene. This hype has led to skyrocketing costs for meta-related crypto and increased interest in metaverse platforms. However, gaming is only the tip of the virtual iceberg when it comes to the metaverse’s many possibilities.
With a truly evolved metaverse, we would be able to transcend countries, borders, cultures, brands — and even the laws of physics. We could use the metaverse to do virtually anything we wanted, from working and playing to those everyday necessities of life, such as talking to a doctor or studying for a test.
The key to unlocking the metaverse is found in non-fungible tokens and metaverse crypto. Also called NFTs, non-fungible tokens grant property rights to digital assets. People are able to use NFTs to buy and sell virtual property and artwork, travel virtually, or attend virtual festivals and concerts. Metaverse crypto is a type of cryptocurrency that funds each metaverse platform, and may include blockchain fees, node rewards, staking, and other standard crypto features and is ultimately used in the process of creating their own virtual world platforms.
While the metaverse is still new, it offers vast and possibly unlimited potential to transform the way we work, play and live. Its evolution has accelerated during the pandemic, and Facebook’s announcement is likely to continue to accelerate as more people become aware of its potential and sign onto metaverse projects.
The best time to invest in the metaverse is right now, and the best way to invest is through NFTs and metaverse crypto.
What Exactly Is the Metaverse?
The metaverse can be thought of as the next generation of the internet. Instead of the original information superhighway, however, the metaverse will offer a completely immersive experience. You’ll be able to access the metaverse through virtual reality (VR). Rather than typing on a keyboard and reading through a screen, you’ll use a display, such as a VR headset or smart glasses, and motion-tracking devices will empower you to move around freely in the metaverse. You’ll even be able to interact with other people and objects.
No single entity can or will own the metaverse, although companies and businesses will be able to use and engage with the metaverse as freely as anyone else. There will also be no single regulatory body to govern the metaverse. Instead, it’s organized using blockchain technology, which guards against fraud and offers built-in protection against security threats. You’ll be able to complete monetary transactions using cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin (BTC) or Ether (ETH).
For now, much of the potential of the metaverse is conceptual, but gaming communities are working hard to bring it to life through the power of the internet. The earliest building blocks offer vast opportunities for growth and creative development, and people will be able to access diverse services and integrated products with exciting new capabilities. Many corporations, including Facebook (or Meta) are interested in taking the metaverse to the next level, but organic growth and evolution are the ultimate keys to the success of this new world. In other words, you are the key to the success of the metaverse.
No single company, government or entity has the power that you do when it comes to the metaverse. For true success, the metaverse must remain decentralized, focusing on the people who will use it, support it, grow it and evolve it.
Utilities of the Metaverse
The earliest concepts of the metaverse were escapist, offering people a dystopian future as an escape from chaos. Today’s metaverse is different. Largely focused on connecting with others — often in the form of gaming — the metaverse now offers open-world gaming and experiences, and new ways to connect meaningfully in an increasingly wired world.
With the metaverse, we can engage in a variety of real-world activities and social interactions through games that users both develop and play. These games are supported by a virtual economy with roots in the real world, granting you new ways to build actual wealth through virtual goods such as virtual land real estate, digital stocks, non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrency.
The most notable advantage of the metaverse is the fact that it completely makes geographic barriers irrelevant. Once you’re in the virtual world, your physical location doesn’t matter anymore and you are no longer bound by it. The metaverse will act as a neutral and immersive space where everyone can look how they want to look, making players feel more confident. On top of that, finding and meeting people and new friends with similar interests and ideas will be more convenient, all from the safety of your home.
While much of the metaverse currently revolves around games, it offers users much more in terms of artificial intelligence (AI), versatility and utility, including entertainment, education, arts and culture, shopping and economic opportunities. Users will be able to interact directly with celebrities and public figures, attend virtual concerts or festivals, and the virtual world will be at their fingertips. They can engage with their favorite brands in a more exciting new way, and brands will be able to stay a step ahead of trends, adopting new styles, interactions and game options.
Gaming might be the biggest part of the metaverse for now, but shopping is a close second. Users are buying up digital real estate, fashion, art and design pieces to enjoy endless customization options — not just for the digital representations of themselves, but their entire digital space. All of it functions thanks to NFTs and the power of the crypto metaverse.
One major concern that many people have about metaverses is addiction and how easy it is to lose track of time while you’re in it. People who are exposed to the metaverse for too long might lose their attachment to reality and in extreme cases, may not want to face the existence of the real world as they become addicted to the Metaverse without a need to leave their VR setup apart from eating and sleeping. To some degree, we experience this kind of addiction today with smartphones, with the average American spending roughly 5.4 hours per day staring at a screen, but this might worsen with the Metaverse, causing potential mental and health issues. However, with enough supervision and safety checks, these addictive behavior may be prevented.
The Qualities It Takes to Build a Metaverse
Although Meta is the latest company signing on to the metaverse, it’s not the first or only corporation that’s interested in the vast and as yet largely untapped opportunity. Microsoft, Unity, Amazon, Epic Games and other tech giants are also deeply involved, along with tech developers, designers and entrepreneurs. Computer chip maker Nvidia is working on the Omniverse, a foundational platform designed to create augmented reality simulations to support the metaverse.
There are several core attributes to the metaverse, including:
- Synchronous events that occur live and in real-time for all users
- Continuous experience that never pauses or ends
- An experience that spans both the physical and virtual worlds
- Open system that allows almost anyone to contribute to it
Today’s metaverse also features a fully functioning economy — thanks to cryptocurrency. Businesses and people alike can engage in this economy using crypto. They can create, earn, invest, and buy and sell virtual property using crypto, which can then be traded in the real world for fiat money.
Conceptualized as “the next generation internet,” the metaverse goes even further. It’s an augmented reality accessed through the digital realm, created through a variety of technologies that includes not just the internet but also decentralized ledgers, smart contracts, 3D tech, and more.
What Does the Metaverse Have to Do with Crypto?
The metaverse is designed to seamlessly marry the physical and virtual worlds, allowing you to earn or craft items in one world and share them in the other. In a world where you can have the virtual presence to be and do anything you want to be and do, you need funding — and funding is acquired through crypto.
Cryptocurrency relies on blockchain technology, much like the metaverse. The internet we currently use is a distributed system, but the metaverse is decentralized, which means that it is owned by all those who access and own it. This same decentralized system is used by cryptocurrency networks.
Although the metaverse is still in its infancy, blockchain technology is somewhat better established. A blockchain is a specific type of database that depends on a network of computers. Information is verified and added to the blockchain, creating an immutable record of transactions and data. Blockchain technology is the pillar in the crypto realm, but other users are emerging as well, including the metaverse.
The metaverse blockchain has several familiar features, including more than 1,100 decentralized nodes in the Ethereum network alone; and portable content, which means that anything you upload to the metaverse can be moved easily to any other platform.
With the metaverse blockchain, you create and own your digital representation of yourself and what you produced. You can access, use, and import or export anything easily without third-party interference. You have complete autonomy over your own experience, and can use virtual, augmented, mixed or extended reality — or any other technology — to enjoy the best interactions possible without the limitations of physical space. The addition of digital assets and cryptocurrencies is simply the icing on the cake, boosting the global economy and helping to bring your limitless dreams to life.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are unique and cannot be traded for any other tokens. They’re a virtual asset which underlies the growth of the metaverse. They represent intangible items such as in-game collectibles, images, videos or other virtual properties. NFT ownership is recorded on the blockchain, and it can be traded for digital assets.
NFTs have smart contract features to automate and enforce an agreement, making it easy to buy, sell or grant access as desired. This means you can use NFTs not only to invite others into your own space, but to access invite-only events, such as festivals.
While many users enjoy NFTs as collectibles, others appreciate them as investment opportunities, much like cryptocurrency.
Are Metaverse Tokens Different from the Rest?
Non-fungible tokens aren’t just the currency of the various virtual world communities; they’re also fueling the growth of the metaverse. Some virtual reality platforms make it possible to participate at no cost, but to buy or trade virtual assets, you’ll need cryptocurrency or Ethereum-based tokens, such as MANA, GALA, SAND or APE. You can trade these tokens for virtual goods, services or experiences. You can also purchase access to user-created virtual world games.
These tokens are recorded on the blockchain and can be traded just like the assets they represent. The NFT market has surged, with some metaverse users seeing NFTs as collectibles and others using them as investments. The tokens are ultimately a way to own digital assets within games, the metaverse, or other digital environments.
Top Companies Working on Metaverse
Meta (previously Facebook) is currently developing a Metaverse known as Horizon Worlds. It allows users to create their own virtual identity and be in a real-time 3D virtual world using VR headsets such as Oculus, but they are not the only company working on this concept. Let's explore some other companies who are also working on the Metaverse.
One of the top AI and GPU comany, NVIDIA is working with Meta to develop an app called Omniverse for creating Metaverse-ready assets. It has a free version supporting artists as well as content creators to build virtual worlds and products. They are also part of a Metaverse Standards Forum together with Meta, Microsoft, Unity, and others.
One of the largest gaming company with one of the most popular gaming engine, Epic Games and their Unreal Engine is at the forefront of innovation and development for the Metaverse. They have announced a two billion dollar round of funding in 2022 to pave the way for game developers to explore a plethora of opportunities in the Metaverse. They have also invested and partnered with Gala Games and are launching their first blockchain game together called GRIT that will go live on the Epic Games store.
They are building a creator economy while offering an open gaming platform for anyone to create their own interactive digital world. Users can access through VR as well as older technologies like Xbox One, computers, tablets and smart phones. Roblox is able to provide multiple games within their platform and offer virtual worlds where players can freely interact with each other and they can even host Metaverse events such as Lil NasXConcert. This approach is gaining popularity for building a business model for the Metaverse.
The Sandbox is a minecraft inspired community-driven metaverse where creators can monetize voxel assets (3D digital objects) and gaming experiences on the blockchain. They have a cryptocurrency called $SAND and the company emphasizes its virtual economy in which players use blockchain-based digital tokens to buy and sell user-created games, 3D objects usable in games, land on the platform to play the games and other items. Even popular celebrities like JJ Lin has bought Sandbox virtual real estate as well.
Decentraland is most frequently likened to Second Life, a popular online game/world that was launched in 2003. They are developing Metaverses as a platform for content producers and enterprises looking for a new artistic medium or any commercial opportunity. They have a cryptocurrency called $MANA. They are helping users to create as well as monetize different apps and content while purchasing virtual pieces of land in the Metaverse Technology.
Bored Ape Yacht Club
One of the most popular NFT project, Bored Apes or BAYC, have also announced their own metaverse called Otherside. Otherside is a 3D metaverse that appears to offer a gaming format for Bored Ape NFT holders. Created in partnership with Animoca Brands, Otherside will be powered by ApeCoin, $APE. Yuga Labs intends their Bored Ape metaverse to be an MMORPG that will connect the broader NFT universe.
As Metaverses are just beginning to gain popularity, this is an important time for governments to consider how they want to shape metaverses.
The federal government may want to create a regulatory framework to tackle questions around whether or how to tax commercial activities in the metaverses, as well as how to maintain national security and protect users against privacy risks and cyber harassment.
Metaverses will open new economic opportunities, creating rising demand for programmers and artists and it is a great way for marginalized communities to have equal access and participate in the emerging digital economies with new opportunities. The government should take steps to ensure that the talents working on metaverses should come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to catch potential bias issues, equity gaps, accessibility challenges and other harmful impacts of the technologies and their uses.
This can help ensure the resulting platforms are accessible and inclusive to as much of the population as possible.
Is Crypto the Future for the Metaverse?
Online payments are well-established in both the digital and physical worlds. The concept of cryptocurrency builds on that technology, and NFTs take both concepts just a step further. In a virtual financial ecosystem, cryptocurrency simply makes sense, providing people with a simple, secure, and readily transparent way to transfer value from one user to another.
As crypto-based platforms emerge, they’re evolving technology with nearly unlimited opportunities for growth. Cryptocurrency and NFTs are largely fueling this growth, and will be essential for helping the technology reach its full potential. Whether you want to fully immerse yourself in the metaverse or simply enjoy its financial benefits, crypto is your all-access pass to wealth in both the digital and physical worlds.