Lately, metaverse is one of those words that never stop popping out of our heads from hearing it so often in the media. The truth is, the idea of a metaverse is exciting, but it’s not a new concept. Want to know and understand your story once and for all? In this post, we’ll tell you what a metaverse is, what types of metaverses exist and give examples of other metaverses, among many other things. Will you accompany us into the future? Come on!
What is Metaverse?
The metaverse is a digital reality that we access through special devices such as virtual reality glasses or augmented reality glasses, through which we can interact with other users. Each of these users will have an avatar (their persona in the virtual world) and will interact through objects in the immersive worlds.
It’s like a second digital reality where we can interact with our friends, work with colleagues, enjoy our partners and even get a job in the digital space.
To understand the term “metaverse”, try mentally replacing it with “cyberspace” in a sentence. Most of the time, the meaning won’t change much. This is because the word itself does not refer to a specific type of technology, but to a change in the way human beings interact with it.
The technologies that make up the metaverse often involve virtual reality. This is characterized by virtual worlds that continue to exist even when you are not playing, such as augmented reality, which combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds.
The metaverse, however, also doesn’t necessarily require these spaces to be accessed through augmented or virtual reality. For example, Fornite meets the different characteristics of the virtual world, which you can access through a computer or cell phone, so we can say that it is metaversal.
Metaverse Story: Snow Crash
We don’t know for sure the origin of the metaverse, but what we can say is when people started talking about it. The first references to the metaverse appear in Neil Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash (1992).
The novel tells the story of Hiroaki Hiro Protagonista, a pizza delivery boy in the real world, but a warrior prince (samurai) in the Metaverse. After a while, Hiro discovers a powerful computer virus in the Metaverse called Snow Crash, and finding out more about this virus will be the backbone of the plot.
What is relevant about this book is that Neil created the first written reference to a fully virtual world long before cyberspace was even discussed. In his book, Neal introduces the idea of avatars (or virtual personas of real people in the physical world).
What is Avatar?
An avatar is a personal 3D persona that you must create to access the metaverse and this is the interface through which you will interact with the rest of the people in it.
The key to this process is that each of us will design our own avatar to model it as closely as possible to their real-world personality and appearance.
Characteristics of the Metaverse
These virtual spaces, or metaverses, have a number of common characteristics. that’s it:
They Are Interactive Spaces
A user in the metaverse can communicate and interact with other users/avatars and with the virtual universe itself. It also adds the advantage of causality, as users are participants in the changes happening around them.
Are Physical Environments
Second, these virtual spaces or metaverses have the advantage of being subject to some laws of physics and of scarce resources, just like in the physical world as we know it.
It is stable and independent in its own right
Finally, thirdly, they are also persistent and independent. This means that even though we are not using the metaverse, it still works. This gives it the characteristic of being a living being, and regardless of whether users are attached to it or not, the dynamics of the world continue to function.
It is Decentralized
The metaverse does not belong to one company or platform, but to all its users, who also have control over their own data. Blockchain technology is a big part of this because it ensures that all transactions in the virtual world are public, easy to track and secure worldwide.
As a virtual three-dimensional space, the metaverse removes all kinds of barriers, physical and otherwise. It’s an endless space where there are no limits to how many people can use it at the same time, what types of activities can be done, what industries they can enter, etc. It expands accessibility beyond existing internet platforms.
Finally, users can participate in decentralized virtual economies backed by cryptocurrencies. This includes marketplaces where users can buy, sell and exchange items such as digital assets like avatars, virtual clothing, NFTs or event tickets.
What Can You Do in the Metaverse?
Now that we know so much about the metaverse, let’s see exactly what we can do in it.
For years, video games like Minecraft and Roblox have offered metaverse-like experiences. However, in 2020, there are others like The Sandbox and Decentraland that have boosted the video game economy by adding digital assets. Not only can you import your own NFTs into games and buy virtual land, but you can also use NFTs from the game itself to improve your position in the virtual world by unlocking, exploring or building spaces.
NFTs aside, these games are played like any other. That is, you can walk around in different virtual worlds hanging out with brands and celebrities who are fighting to dominate the market.
There are also virtual spaces such as malls, art galleries or squares where you can walk, talk to people, play games, build buildings or participate in events. Some even organize their own concerts.
Without a doubt, the magic is in the relationships that can be formed with other users. There are many gathering places in the metaverse. While you can congregate in massive open worlds like The Sandbox, you can also play in dedicated rooms on platforms like Spatial. These apps are specially designed to host events, conferences or meetings.
Types of Metaverses
Within the traditional metaverses, to give them a name, we find classic video games like Grand Theft Auto, which allow you to establish relationships with other users virtually in an open world that simulates the real thing.
The gameplay that has become very popular in GTA is ‘role playing’. A mode where the player’s avatar has exactly the same function as in the real world. He usually starts with a less important job, like a garbage collector or a taxi driver, and depending on the money and experience gained, he can climb the social ladder in virtual reality.
On the other hand, Roblox is a clear example of a traditional metaverse with characteristics similar to blockchain metaverses. It is an online video game platform with a very powerful creation system that allows users to create their own virtual worlds. While not using blockchain technology as such, many game developers see it as a natural evolution of the platform.
Within blockchain metaverses, there is a distinction between centralization and decentralization. The main difference between these two types is the control over the virtual world. These companies have full control over centralized blockchain metafers such as the launch of Facebook. In them, the organization owns all user data, being the only one who decides its future.
Likewise, the difference between the two is that the former integrates crypto payments and virtual items in the form of NFTs. Therefore, they have their own virtual economy. But control of this economy is in the hands of a few regulators.
Finally, there are decentralized blockchain metavers. These have a totally independent virtual economy that is controlled by the users. This is the case of Decentraland, Sandbox or Cryptovoxels. They all strive to become decentralized independent organizations, although they were initially founded by a single organization responsible for building the virtual world. In other words, all these metaverses will be fully controlled by users in the future.
How to Get to the Metaverse
With all this information, it’s important to understand that there isn’t a single metafire yet and that it will take a few years to see virtual worlds truly interconnected.
Today we can enjoy a collection of virtual worlds made up of games, software and separate platforms that share only their access technologies. So there are different platforms that you can access in different ways.
It is not a single universal device or technology that allows access to all worlds in the multiverse. Each one has a gateway that you can enjoy from your computer, tablet, cell phone, or with virtual or augmented reality glasses.
As mentioned earlier, many companies are betting on the development of this technology. For example, Facebook (Meta) and Microsoft are in the works. But it’s not just technology companies that are investing in this field, but also luxury brands and companies. For example, Nikeland is developed in Roblox, Fortnite, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Balenciaga and even Zara has launched its own projects in this regard.
In fact, it is estimated that more than 160 companies have joined this race. With that in mind, if you want to dedicate yourself to exploring this sector, don’t miss this post in which we indicate which professions in the metaverse will be the most sought after and which ones will be ready to explode in the future.
Differences Between Metaverses and Multiverse
In this new field, there are similar concepts that can be confusing.
Remember that, for example, everyone in the metaverse is interacting in the same digital world, where they can easily switch activities. For example, a user can switch from gaming to shopping, working, socializing or dating without switching platforms. Each of these activities is connected to the same user identity.
On the other hand, the multiverse is a collection of virtual worlds, each independent of the other in terms of digital identities, origins and laws that participants must follow. A person’s activity on social media will not affect their game avatar and vice versa, nor will it be affected by their personal purchases. We can say that today, in the era of Web 2.0, we are still in a multiverse, interacting with a variety of applications, websites and games, each of which includes a different set of rules about what you can say and do.
Finally, there is also the universal universe. The Universal Universe is the collection of all multiverses and metaverses. The sum of all that can be achieved through digital identities and economies. Although the multiverse is the bearer of the metaverse, both structures still fall within the overarching universe. However, it is unlikely that we will see such a superstructure anytime soon.
Examples of Metaverses: Second Life
Second Life was the first state of the virtual metaverse launched in 2003. To register on this platform and obtain your “second life”, it was enough to create an avatar and have access to the virtual world of Second Life.
When you entered this world, you did so as a resident, and the possibilities in this virtual world were limitless; You can explore the virtual world, interact with other avatars (users), play with your friends and even create digital products and services (digital clothes for avatars, digital music, …) to trade with them later.
This last feature is very important to highlight within the metaverses and is that a digital economy is created and developed within them, which will help the ecosystem to grow.
Switching from Facebook to Meta. Why?
We’ve all heard recently about the controversial and nasty name change from the Facebook Group to the Meta Group. Well, let’s try to explain to you the reasons why this change makes so much sense.
The first thing we have to contextualize is that Facebook has a dark past which we already talked about in our post about the history of Facebook. There are many points in history where Facebook has preferred to prioritize growth over the safety of content viewed by users, and this has led to frequent episodes of reputational crises.
That’s why, in the short term, renaming a Facebook group to Meta Group could be related to an attempt at aggressive brand optimization to prevent all of your products from being associated with a problematic company. and data management.
However, in the medium and long term, we can understand the reason for this company’s strategy. Facebook’s mission is to connect people. And it has done so so far through social media; Web platforms and applications through which people interact and share content. To continue this mission, the group now wants to address the creation and transition of its social network to the interactive world; Facebook Horizon metaverse.
Likewise, this strategy will allow the group to rely less on charging for ads on social networks (currently accounting for 98% of revenue) and to seek new sources of revenue with hardware (Oculus VR glasses and portal video calls) and software (experiences and signatures to the metaverse).
If you reached the end of this post, then you realized the importance of keeping up to date with the latest technologies that can revolutionize an industry, generating new competitive advantages. If you want to understand how these technological macro trends are identified and put at the service of your company, we recommend the MBA in Digital Transformation. We will be waiting for you!