There is a good chance you’ve heard about the metaverse before late 2021 if you follow the tech, gaming, or cryptocurrency worlds. Since Facebook laid out its lofty aspirations to develop the metaverse, you will likely have seen a notable spike in conversation about it.
What exactly is the metaverse? That’s a tricky one to nail down in a rambling clip. To put it another way, it’s a futuristic picture of the Internet in which virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets play a significant role in making online encounters more accurate and, in some cases, replacing real-world activities.
According to JP Morgan, the metaverse represents a $1 trillion market, and a broad spectrum of organizations have expressed an interest in exploring the prospects it provides.
However, it is unclear how the metaverse will function and who will manage it, and the word has recently been adopted as a catch-all for a wide range of forward-thinking tech, gaming, and NFT-centric activities. Furthermore, it could be years before we’re all vibing as avatars online.
What Is the Metaverse?
While there are potentially competing visions for how the metaverse will function, one thing appears to be true: it is viewed as the next significant evolution of the Internet, moving away from today’s text-driven websites and often-closed ecosystems and toward shared, overlapping 3D spaces in which users interact via avatars.
Proponents predict the metaverse will be used for various purposes, including socializing, events, gaming, commerce, and even work. The metaverse will not be a single website or platform but rather a collection of online destinations that will allow you to transport customizable avatars and materials from one virtual location to another.
This final component may rely on NFTs and blockchain technologies. Nonfungible tokens are digital assets with programmed scarcity that are appropriate for representing ownership of virtual goods such as in-metaverse objects or plots of virtual land.
Popular NFTs, such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks, may be turned into 3D avatars that owners could transport into metaverse realms. These virtual goods can be traded, personalized, and even monetized.
The phrase “metaverse” precedes the current wave of interest in it; it originally appeared in Neal Stephenson’s renowned cyberpunk novel “Snow Crash,” while Ernest Cline’s “Ready, Player One”—particularly the Steven Spielberg-directed film adaptation—brought the notion to a broader audience.
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What are NFTs
These are nonfungible tokens, which means they are unique. You can think of them as blockchain-based certificates of ownership. When a digital file (often an image, video, or GIF) is minted, they are generated. This means a certificate of ownership and authenticity is issued using cryptocurrency (often Ethereum) and sold/granted to the new owner.
Because digital art and assets are notoriously easy to steal and copy, NFTs are useful. While NFTs cannot prevent digital asset theft, they give an impartial and unbiased validation of the authorized owner. If NFTs are ever incorporated into copyright law, they may be used as proof against the misuse of digital products.
Metaverse Applications of NFT
Because NFTs are often linked with websites and transactions that take place through web browsers, and the metaverse is VR-based mainly, there may be some uncertainty about what their common ground is — or whether there is any at all.
Fortunately, despite the relative novelty of these notions, numerous businesses have already discovered inventive and productive methods to use both concurrently.
Areas for conversation in VR are already prospering thanks to apps like VRChat, and it is not a tremendous leap to believe that similar spaces can also serve as a fruitful trading ground for NFTs. Sellers can quickly provide links and previews to web-based goods or mint assets directly in the VR landscape.
Nike is a beautiful illustration of how VR and NFT marketplaces may appeal to numerous companies across industries. It’s already dabbling in the metaverse with its virtual “Nikeland,” and it’s now bought a firm (RTFKT) recognized for creating product NFTs. Perhaps it will only be a matter of time before the two conceptions collide in “Nikeworld.”
VR is possibly the best platform for viewing art (short of a physical brick-and-mortar facility). You get a close-up look at every detail and from every angle. This method varies from a marketplace in that the pricing is predetermined (and cannot be bargained), the assets are all of the same sort (art compositions), and the mood is far more casual.
Many institutions, for example, are presently displaying NFT artwork in metaverses enabled by the Ethereum blockchain, such as Cryptovoxels. Cryptovoxels is home to “art galleries and institutions, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the FC Francisco Carolinum Linz, Austria,” according to The Art Newspaper.
In the actual world, real estate may be a lucrative industry to work in, and the same might be said for the metaverse. We are not talking about actual estate being sold digitally but rather about digital land and territories being partially or entirely sold for further user development.
An example will help to illustrate this case. Decentraland is a virtual region in which land parcels can be sold as NFTs, and everything is displayed in 3-D. This “country” has its cryptocurrency and is scheduled to enter the metaverse (make the world available to VR users) in 2022.
How Does It Work?
In Facebook’s metaverse vision, users would interact in 3D places and be able to switch between different experiences. For example, you could speak or play cards in a room with other users before jumping into a 3D surfing game with a friend. You may visit an NFT art gallery, a digital casino, or a live performance. After that, you can relax in your own personal, customized home base.
But it won’t simply be Facebook creating experiences: it will most likely be a diverse group of firms and creators, both large and small. Using a crypto wallet or comparable capabilities to log in to services and access your owned assets could be the unifying factor.
You’ll want access to your digital goods no matter where you are, whether it’s wearing a 3D avatar, playing with in-game items, or loading up a personal area that you own as an NFT.
To put it another way, the metaverse will not be a single location managed by a single firm or community. It will be more open than that, but it will all be built on an interoperable, likely blockchain-based foundation that allows for seamless movement across places and areas.
Who’s Building It?
There are a lot of companies, obviously, and the list is rising over time. Aside from Facebook, the Chinese Internet, and gaming behemoth, Tencent has devoted significant resources to the metaverse. In contrast, Microsoft has stated that its proposed acquisition of Activision is aimed at preparing for the metaverse.
Other companies, including Walmart and Disney, have announced ambitions to expand their offerings into the metaverse, with Disney CEO Bob Chapek referring to it as “the next great storytelling frontier.” Others are more cautious; Shuntaro Furukawa, president of gaming giant Nintendo, has remarked that while the metaverse has “huge potential,” the corporation has yet to have any clear plans.