This article was last updated on June 10, 2022
When people talk about the Metaverse, they are usually referring to a virtual reality world that is similar to the one depicted in the movie “The Matrix.” In this world, you can become anyone you want to be and do anything you want to do. It is a place where you can escape from the real world and explore new worlds and experiences. If you are interested in joining the Metaverse, then this guide is for you! In it, we will discuss how to become a virtual reality citizen and how to access the Metaverse.
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What is the Metaverse?
In Neal Stephenson’s seminal 1992 novel Snow Crash, the Metaverse is a virtual reality world that allows people to interact and do business with each other. The novel predicted many aspects of our current digital world, including social media, online gaming, and even Google Street View. But one of the most prescient predictions was the emergence of virtual reality.
Today, the Metaverse is a term that refers to the vast, interconnected world of digital spaces that currently exists online. Although there are many variations and iterations of the Metaverse, at its core, it is defined by its interconnected nature. Built on today’s advanced internet technologies, the metaverse brings together different virtual environments, social media platforms, and online communities into one seamless network where users can move freely between various digital spaces.
Whether you want to shop for clothes in a virtual mall, share photos with friends on social media, or play games with other users around the globe, the metaverse provides endless opportunities for connection and exploration. Given its huge potential for growth and innovation, the metaverse is quickly becoming one of the most exciting and important aspects of our rapidly changing digital landscape.
At its most basic level, the metaverse represents a virtual world that is all-encompassing and extends beyond traditional boundaries like time and space. Characterized by complex interactions between users, the metaverse is often described as an alternative reality that allows individuals to engage with each other in new ways.
While there are many different aspects to the metaverse, it is best known for providing opportunities for collaboration, communication, and creativity. Whether you are looking to socialize with others or express your ideas through art or music, the metaverse has something for everyone.
History Of The Metaverse
As we mentioned earlier, the concept of the Metaverse first came up in 1992 in the novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. In it, the author depicts a virtual world, confined to a single stretch of road that circumvents an entire planet. On it, corporations buy and sell plots of land in order to build structures. Meanwhile, users can gain access to the Metaverse through the use of specialized terminals and virtual reality goggles. Here, the Metaverse functions somewhat like a virtual version of the real world.
This vision of the Metaverse has persisted to this day and is the goal for many who seek to make it a reality. However, not everyone envisions a completely virtual Metaverse. Some have opted for a more varied approach by creating diverse ecosystems built around a single platform. These are not necessarily virtual realities, with many existing in a conventional video game or a mixed reality platform.
One of the first to do this was the smash hit Second Life. This online video game allows players to create a virtual avatar and enter a virtual world where they can interact with others. While not VR-based, the game is very similar to Stephenson’s original vision from the ’90s. However, Second Life is a purely social game that does not offer the sale and purchase of digital goods.
More recently, Roblox has become the go-to Metaverse example for many. What started off as a simple sandbox video game has now grown into a multi-billion dollar virtual world. The platform offers virtual experiences that players can purchase and play in-game. This allows for a diverse selection of experiences that do not confine Roblox to a single concept. As one of the premier Metaverse projects, Roblox recently became a publicly-traded company with a $42 billion valuation.
Why Is The Metaverse So Popular?
Over the past several months, the Metaverse has become a widely discussed topic in the crypto world. However, the discourse has now spilled over into many other sectors and gained widespread media attention. The catalyst for all of this has mainly been Facebook’s recent rebranding to Meta.
This pivot came with the announcement that the new company would be spearheading the tech industry’s transition into the Metaverse and Web 3.0. Meta’s founder Mark Zuckerberg introduced the company’s plans to create a virtual reality world where users can interact with each other in a simulated world. Because of Meta’s size and incredibly large user base, the announcement brought the attention of many investors and the mainstream press to the concept of the Metaverse.
However, Zuckerberg’s company is not the only one seeking to build the Metaverse. There are numerous other corporations in the sector that are investing just as many resources into their bids. One example of this is Epic Games, which has already built a significant ecosystem around its massively popular video game Fortnite. While different from Meta’s, Epic’s vision for the Metaverse is much more developed and has a larger install base at present.
All of this has resulted in a proverbial arms race between major corporations seeking to create the Metaverse.
How Are The Metaverse And Cryptocurrencies Related?
The Metaverse and cryptocurrencies are closely related. As a form of digital currency, cryptos will likely see widespread use in this virtual environment. Even now, many metaverse projects utilize cryptos in one way or another. Because they are not tied to any central bank or country, cryptos allow for much easier transactions and eliminate many of the fees that you would normally see with conventional fiat money.
As the internet transitions towards Web 3.0, more and more applications will use blockchain technology. This autonomous way of operation will allow virtual realities like the Metaverse to function with minimal oversight or upkeep.
Additionally, many Metaverse projects use NFT technology inside their virtual worlds. For example, games such as Axie Infinity allow players to purchase virtual plots of land, which come with digital deeds, giving them owner’s rights. These are, in reality, non-fungible tokens that users receive for their unique plot of land.
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How To Join The Metaverse
Joining the Metaverse is a lot easier than you might think. This is because there currently isn’t any singular platform that encapsulates all others. Instead, many different ecosystems exist independently from each other. Each one of these has a different goal and vision for what it aims to be.
Some, like Zuckerberg’s Meta, aim to become a fully virtual reality where people can interact with each other and communicate through the use of avatars. Here, they will be able to perform a wide variety of activities, impossible in the real world. All of this is to be made possible through the use of Meta’s very own Quest VR headsets.
Meanwhile, other platforms like Roblox, Epic’s Fortnite, Second Life, and Decentraland make the Metaverse much more accessible. Most of these require only a free account, and you can jump in instantly. However, some, like VR Chat, will require a VR headset in order to operate properly. While it is possible to use VR Chat without such a headset, you would not be able to get all of the features that the platform offers.
Investing In The Metaverse
Since the metaverse is not one single entity, you cannot exactly invest directly in it. However, you can invest in the many existing projects that are either building their own version of the Metaverse or are Metaverse-adjacent. This will allow you to get involved in the scene and reap the potential benefits of future successes. Here are some of the most promising Metaverse projects and companies that you can invest in today:
As the name might suggest, Meta is laser-focused on creating a virtual reality where people from all over the world can interact with each other. The social network company rebranded itself to Meta in 2021 to show its commitment to its vision for the future. Given the organization’s considerable resources and strong market presence, Meta is well-positioned to create such a world.
However, this will still be an uphill battle for them, as video game development is outside of Meta’s usual purview. Additionally, some have raised concerns over privacy and moderation in Facebook’s Metaverse. Because of the company’s spotty track record when it comes to these subjects, many users and experts are skeptical when it comes to Zuckerberg’s vision for the future of the internet.
Meanwhile, Epic Games has a different approach to the Metaverse. Instead of going for an entirely virtual reality, the company is focused on creating an expanded ecosystem around its Fortnite video game. Over the past several years, the popular Battle Royal has hosted a number of virtual concerts and events in collaboration with pop stars and various IPs.
Today, the game features characters from the likes of Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, Disney, and various other game franchises. Luxury fashion brands like Balenciaga and Moncler have also partnered with the developer to bring their clothes to the game. This has created a wide ecosystem that expands beyond the boundaries of the game itself. When looking at competitors, you will not find any that have such a high level of collaboration and official licensing deals with other brands. As such, Fortnite is currently at the forefront of Metaverse development in the video game space.
Roblox is another instance of a video game that is pivoting towards the Metaverse. However, in this case, the project has completely rebranded itself as a digital experience platform rather than a game. While this move was mainly a response to unrelated events in the lawsuit of Epic Games v. Apple, the rebrand does fall in line with Roblox’s overall strategy.
In its current state, Roblox offers players to download and play millions of virtual experiences on its in-game platform. This operates as a sort of digital marketplace where users can upload and sell their own projects developed in the Roblox game engine. While this does make Roblox the most extensive virtual platform, most of these experiences are user-generated and not officially licensed content.
Decentraland is one of the most popular Metaverse projects in the crypto space. However, there have been some doubts regarding its success. The platform launched in 2017, allowing users to interact with each other in a virtual space.
Additionally, virtual deeds are available for purchase, entitling the owner to a plot of land inside the platform. These come in the form of NFTs, and players can buy and sell them between themselves. Decentraland comes with its own cryptocurrency named MANA. Players use this in order to make transactions inside of the virtual space. However, due to its high volatility, prices can vary wildly.
Although popular in the crypto space, Decentraland has received heavy criticism from professionals in the video game and other industries. They argue that Decentraland has little to offer when it comes to actual content and functions. Additionally, they say that the project feels clunky and poorly made when compared to polished triple-A video games.
So how do you join the Metaverse? The answer is that it depends on which project or company you decide to invest in. Each of the projects we’ve mentioned has its own approach and requirements for joining. However, all of them share one common goal: to create a virtual reality where people from around the world can interact and communicate with each other.
The Metaverse is still in its early stages of development. However, with the recent advances in technology, we may see it grow exponentially in the years to come. Increased interest and mainstream attention have also expedited this process, bringing the concept of the Metaverse into the spotlight. However, if we were to look at the Metaverse realistically, a single all-encompassing virtual world seems improbable. Instead, we will likely see a number of iterations developed by different companies. Each one of these will have unique traits and offer something different.
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