Metaverse meaning: what is the Metaverse and why it matters
The term 'Metaverse' was coined by Neal Stephenson in 1992, author of sci-fi book Snow Crash as a successor to the internet (Web2). It’s a virtual reality based future that captured so many tech believer’s imaginations today, as a limitless virtual world where our avatars co-exist.
Around 30 years later, Stephen’s vision for the metaverse is becoming a reality and increasingly monetized. Tech Giant Facebook made the first move as it rebranded its name to Meta and signalled its new ambitions on the metaverse. Zuckerberg stated that his vision is to 'create 10,000 new high-skilled jobs within the European Union (EU) over the next five years' to transition the social media platform to the Metaverse.
Other companies like Microsoft also marked its presence by creating its own Metaverse where people can connect and work together in a single workplace using AR, VR technologies to control digital avatars of themselves while in different parts of the world in reality.
What is the Metaverse, exactly?
The Metaverse is a network of interconnected, interoperable, immersive and persistent virtual spaces. It leverages on a range of technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality that merges with our daily lives.
This creates a 3D virtual environment where people gather as avatars to hang out, work, create, trade, attend meetings and socialise just like in real life.
What are some other Metaverse examples and players behind them?
Apart from tech giants, several companies and Metaverses are already existing or have already existed for years.
Here are the most popular Metaverses and biggest players in the game now:
Decentraland was created in 2015, it only launched its Metaverse in 2020 and hosts 300,000 monthly active users and 18,000 daily users at the end of 2021.
Built on the Ethereum blockchain, Decentraland is a virtual reality space where users interact, create content, “play-to-earn” money primarily through NFTs, VR real estate. It is fully decentralized and powered by its tokens - MANA and LAND. MANA holders also have power to vote on important governance decisions.
JP Morgan was the first bank to enter Decentraland, where it opened its Onyx lounge to run its banking services just like in the real world. While Samsung built a version of its New York store and Barbados established a Metaverse embassy in Decentraland.
The Sandbox was launched in 2012 as a multiplayer game for mobile phones and Microsoft Windows devices. Owned by Animoca Brands, The Sandbox hosts over 40 million downloads and 1 million active users.
The top Metaverse platform is a gaming community built on the Ethereum blockchain and popular for its stability and security. Users can join and create events on virtual lands and buy them, as well as navigate the metaverse using maps. It is powered by its native token SAND.
Sandbox is as popular among users as in the investors’ circle. Gucci has bought a plot of virtual land on Sandbox and opened a VR store to allow its fans to buy, own and showcase their NFTs. Specifics are yet to be unveiled, but initial reports indicate the upcoming arrival of immersive experiences and virtual clothing for digital avatars created by Gucci designers.
Somnium Space debuted in 2018 as an open-source metaverse built on the Ethereum blockchain where users can buy land, buildings or import NFTs, explore and trade with the platform’s token -CUBE.
NFTs and CUBE tokens can also be used to create wearables that can be sold to other players. And trade on Ethereum, Polygon or Solanada blockchains. Users can also create their own avatars, rent and acquire “land parcels” to create events and tickets for their events. Users also rely on karma levels to represent their social standing and perceptions relative to other players.
Note that although Somnium Space can be accessed via computers and mobile phones, players primarily enter its metaverse using VR headsets.
Somnium Space announced it will launch its own VR headset, stating that “ “As a decentralized and open Metaverse company we cannot allow Somnium Space to be dependent on hardware gatekeepers to be able to communicate and engage with our users,” in its announcement.
The platform also announced the appointment of Gemini’s co-founders Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss as official advisors. And welcomed Solana NFTs to its platform to actualize its vision to become a multi-chain open Metaverse.
What comes next?
The expansion of the Metaverse appears promising and could radically transform the way we interact with one another.
The utilities of 'in-game tokens’ utilities are numerous, from functioning as governance tokens, to creating and buying NFTs. At the center driving the change in the Metaverse are NFTs. People can use NFTs to create avatars to enter the Metaverse and acquire virtual real estates, tickets to attend and network in many online and offline events, including music concerts and brand events, summits, conferences and more. All of which give back power and control of people’s assets.
Photo: Bandai Namco