The Metaverse: Expectations vs. Reality
The Metaverse has become one of the biggest buzzwords in the online world. Brands of all shapes and sizes are moving as fast as they can to create meaningful digital experiences and savvy entrepreneurs are developing ways to monetise that which is largely still misunderstood by the average Joe.
In order to fully grasp the concept of the Metaverse, it’s a good idea to understand where internet technologies are in general and how the lens has changed since the days of dial-up connections and poorly formatted Flash websites.
Web 1, 1990 - 2005(ish): Information was published for people to consume in a one-way, read-only manner. The primary use of the internet is to gain knowledge and find information.
Web 2, from around 2005 onwards: Built on the foundations of Web 1 came Web 2, where the world became creators, innovating and developing their own content and building social circles online. Technically, the world is still in this stage but future leaders are beginning to pave the way to Web 3, where ownership begins to play a key role in how we use the internet.
Web 3, the emerging era: This era, known as ‘the decentralised web’ is starting to develop. It allows platform builders, content creators and general web users to own and exchange assets in an unbiased and fair way, enabled by the blockchain. This removes the monopoly some intermediaries have over the distribution of ownership which we still experience today in Web 2. For example, at present, the world’s largest advertising and media companies control the parameters of how large portions of the internet operate, impacting the daily actions of thousands of companies. The decentralised web intends to change this.
If that isn’t already mind-bending enough, the rise of the ‘Metaverse’ discussion has added another layer of apparent complexity. But, do not fear! We have built this article to try and explain how the Metaverse can be understood and indeed, exactly what it isn’t.
Expectation 1: Web 3 is the Metaverse and vice versa.
Reality 1: Web 3 and the Metaverse are two separate distinctions.
It’s becoming commonplace to see these two terms referred to almost interchangeably but they’re two different beasts. Web 3 can be thought of as the foundations of a house; an underpinning structure that cements ownership of assets via the blockchain.
Running with this metaphor, the Metaverse could be described as the house built on Web 3 foundations. It brings together different building blocks of technology and defines them into usable interfaces for the general web user.
Expectation 2: The Metaverse is just Virtual Reality on the internet.
Reality 2: The Metaverse is an umbrella term for a range of technologies, not just VR.
When thinking about the Metaverse, many liken it to just social media in VR; meeting up with your friends or colleagues in a virtual world. While this is definitely part of its definition or usage, the Metaverse is much more than this. VR is just one technology used to interact with the Metaverse but technologies such as Virtual Wallets, NFTs and Cryptocurrencies all fall under the same Metaverse umbrella.
This ‘Framework for the Metaverse’ article from Matthew Ball hits the nail on the head:
“Most commonly, the Metaverse is mis-described as virtual reality. In truth, virtual reality is merely a way to experience the Metaverse.”
He likens it to people suggesting that the mobile internet is simply an app, which we all understand by now, doesn’t give justice to the power of the more complete technology. Experiencing the Metaverse will make use of VR, AR and decentralised virtual worlds and games, like Roblox. All of which will have massive implications for retail, advertising, entertainment industries and much more.
Expectation 3: No one uses VR so no one will make use of the Metaverse.
Reality 3: Most likely, you and most people you know are already connected to Metaverse technology.
Without going back into “the Metaverse isn’t just VR” discussion again, it’s impactful to understand that most of us are already involved in the Metaverse or its emerging technologies already. And, it isn’t always in the more flashy, “I own cryptocurrency” ways. Infact, the simplest platforms are proving to be powerful manifestations of the Metaverse. Gen Alpha kids and younger Gen Z’s in particular are growing up with decentralised virtual worlds at their fingertips. In April last year, Roblox saw over 200 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs). That’s a population of gamers, equivalent to the population of the UK, Germany, & France combined, all playing together on a metaverse platform.
This game or ‘virtual world’ is said to be a metaverse platform due to the 24 million digital experiences which have already been developed on its platform. These experiences make use of the platform’s own digital currency, Robux, in order for players to interact with these digital experiences. The independent developers of these digital experiences within Roblox can then receive real-world payouts based on the level of engagement Roblox players spend inside the experiences they have developed.
In this way, you can see how the ‘ownership’ part of the decentralised web comes into play. Digital worlds and experiences having real-world impact. Not only can developers earn real-world income through selling their digital experiences, they can also generate income by re-selling digital assets built in the game such as cars, clothing (skins) and houses using the Roblox marketplace.
The Metaverse as it’s being discussed today is fraught with misunderstanding and confusion. Even the most informed digital leaders have differing views on what constitutes a true metaverse and its implications. Which makes it hard to define and to fully understand. The truth is, it’s next to impossible to define something that is yet to fully emerge but it is possible to understand its genesis and the excitement it generates.
It is not simply a technology, place or time, the Metaverse is an (r)evolution of the internet which makes use of an array of technologies likely to influence nearly every industry we know today. From digital payments to entertainment to employment, the Metaverse is set to affect our daily lives just as much, if not more than the discovery of electricity.
The Metaverse is more than VR, it’s a platform of multifarious opportunity.
We’ll be re-visiting the Metaverse and technology as it develops. Follow Venatus on social to keep up to date > https://linktr.ee/wearevenatus