The Metaverse has been a dream of developers, tech gurus, and sci-fi fans for years. It was first imagined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. As VR evolved in its ability to make this concept real, the idea of the Metaverse grew as well. Suddenly, we are very close to making it a reality. Facebook’s Oculus and other VR developers envision a world where people can socialize, buy and sell digital assets (virtual land maybe?), and live virtual lives in the Cyberpunk digital world that we have dreamed about for years.
I bet the Metaverse isn’t in your Frost and Sullivan report, but you will be talking about it very soon. The virtual world that combines all of our devices, AR, VR, and even just plain screens represents a new frontier that promises to have as big an impact on the technology community as e-commerce or social media. Unlike other tech phenomena, there are already successful examples of the Metaverse. But that’s not going to last for long, because the Metaverse is about to be launched by the biggest companies on earth.
The game, Fortnite, has been particularly successful in the Metaverse community. Following Fortnite’s meteoric rise to success in 2017, large companies around the world are investing large amounts of money and manpower into building worlds of their own in order to compete with Fortnite. Recent examples include Microsoft’s $69 Billion Activision purchase, and Facebook’s $10 Billion per year investment into Oculus.
The Metaverse is becoming a reality, and with it will come a whole new economy of virtual assets. NFTs — or non-fungible tokens that are sold on the blockchain, are already vital to the new economies arising in games like Axie Infinity and Minecraft. NFTs represent a way of recording who owns a specific virtual good. They also create whole new opportunities for artists and creators. Blockchain technology ensures that ownership can be transferred seamlessly between users in this brave new world.
In contrast to predecessors like Second Life, a virtual world owned and operated by a private company, Decentraland is relatively decentralized, meaning that it isn’t fully controlled by the company that created it. Instead, its founders planned for users to take ownership of the world and build to their heart’s content. Now users create experiences and interactions, including concerts and art exhibits. There are even casinos where users can gamble using MANA, Decentraland’s native digital currency. Before all else, Decentraland is an experiment in scarce digital property. Republic Realm, which calls itself a “digital real estate firm,” purchased an NFT of a 259-parcel virtual estate in Decentraland for more than 1.2 million MANA, or, at current exchange rates, more than $2,500,000.
Like many things, it’s difficult to pinpoint where exactly the Metaverse came from. It’s not simply a product or service that you can buy, but some would say it’s a state of mind. But no matter how you define it, we believe the concept is here to stay – at least in some form – as more and more organizations join the fold. If you’re talking about who is leading the pack to catch up with this technology, there are a few contenders: Facebook, Google, and Microsoft just to name a few. But no matter if one firm becomes the dominant player in the future of social media or not, it’s our belief that the metaverse will be here for a long time to come.
Will the metaverse become as big as e-commerce or social media? That remains to be seen. However, you don’t want to ignore this powerful trend that is shaping virtual reality, augmented reality, and digital reality.