What is Metaverse?
In 1992, the famous American science fiction writer Neal Stephenson wrote “Snow Crash”, and described a network world, called the Metaverse, which was parallel to the real world. All the people in the real world have a network identity (Avatar) in their meta world and can communicate with each other and control their own wealth, as illustrated in Ready Player One.
Simply put, the Metaverse is a bridge between the real world and the virtual world. This is achieved usually with VR and AR technology to expand the vision, sound, and touch from the real world by integrating digital objects into the physical world. The technology also brought in the real-world experiences involving trading, production, finance, and entertainment to form a truly immersive virtual world.
On a side note, “Avatar” and “Metaverse” are both derived from this book. Today, the Metaverse has become the Internet’s new form which is the next stage after realizing virtual reality. It now appears to be able to combine blockchains and NFTs to become a formidable force.
Characteristics of the Metaverse
Social: Metaverse can move beyond the limits of space. It can communicate and interact in a way that is as close to the real world as possible. It can share “physical” environments with people worldwide and theoretically carry roles and ecosystems several times larger than the real world.
Persistence: The metaverse never pauses or stops and lasts indefinitely. In this world, people can evolve for years or decades without worrying about losing roles and achievements. With blockchains and Internet technology, the Metaverse is not restricted by hardware, and everyone can interact with it using different types of devices.
Interoperability: Metaverse uses open-source code and encryption protocols to provide fully open and extended interoperability of digital items/assets and content.
Economic Benefits: You can think of the roles and beings in the Metaverse as digital species, and after they have formed an organization or guild, users can create, invest, own, lend, sell, or purchase services just like in the real world.
Simply put, Web 1.0 is a passive information delivery network, such as browsers and portal sites, that is unidirectionally delivered to users by the network world. Web 2.0 was created between 1999 and 2004, bringing the world from simple, static desktop web pages to interactive experiences, user-generated content, and the market economy, producing online giants like Facebook and Twitter. It utilizes the users-to-users process and uses the network as a people-to-people communication channel, enabling social functions.
Over time, Web 3.0 came along, intending to become an open, trustless, and permission-less network. Web 3.0 understands and satisfies user needs, understands user habits, performs resource filtering, intelligently matches, and gives user answers. Web 3.0 is a process from user to network and then back to the user.
Features of Web 3.0:
- Open — Based on open standards, the developer community is open, accessible, and completely transparent.
- Trustless — Participants can interact with each other without requiring third parties for verification.
- Permission-less — Any user has the right to participate, even those under an authoritative governmental institution.
Therefore, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other blockchain protocols have the most appropriate backgrounds for the development of Web 3.0.
The process of Web 3.0 has forced the emergence of new economic and ecosystem needs. NFT and the Metaverse is the exploration and validation of blockchains, value carriers, and interactive modes.
In the metaverse, people have digital lives. They can make money, and can spend their leisure time without the restrictions of a physical world. However, if the Metaverse exists only in the Web 2.0 environment, large organizations such as Facebook and Google can control user data and profit from it. Centralized large enterprises can delete and control the users’ content. The users’ rights and freedoms will be violated, contrary to the ideas. Therefore, ownership of digital items is significant if you want the Metaverse to continue developing, enter the mainstream, and become an indispensable part of people’s lives.
With the advent of NFT (Non-Fungible Token), users can enjoy real digital ownership. NFT determines the ownership of items, and users themselves are the owners of digital items and assets, making them unique, scarce, and tradable in the real world.
It can be said that NFT is indispensable to the success of the Metaverse, and NFTs can also enhance consensus with the help of the concepts of the Metaverse.
The land is the content of almost all Metaverse-related projects at present and is also the basis of the entire Metaverse virtual land. Land is like real estate in the real world and enables income through three ways: trading, development and rental.
Trading: Buy at a low price and sell at a high price to make a profit, but often requires a lot of initial investment and a unique vision.
Development: Land development allows other residents to gain experience. It can also be sold after development to gain revenue periodically. Casinos, galleries, games, advertising spaces, and more are examples of a virtual world’s land development.
Renting/Leasing: As the virtual world becomes more popular and land prices rise dramatically, land renting or leasing becomes an important part of the ecosystem.
The Sandbox is a subsidiary of Animoca, a well-known gaming company. Players can use their SAND tokens to build their own virtual world and make profits. There is a DAO in the game, where players can create games, develop the land using the component called Game Maker, or create 3D virtual objects by themselves using the VoxEdit software to trade in markets for economic benefits.
The Sandbox currently has a sale volume of $20 million USD and has more than 50 partners, including well-known IPs such as Atari, Crypto Kitties, and Shaun the Sheep, most of which invest in the land or own their own roles in The Sandbox.
In the virtual world of The Sandbox, there are three main types of tokens: LAND, SAND, ASSET, which construct the economic system of The Sandbox.
Decentraland is a distributed VR virtual space platform built on Ethereum, which resembles “The Sims” in the world of blockchains. The platform recently announced the integration of Polygon as an expansion plan.
Users have their own avatars to browse, create content, buy lands, and socialize within the platform. Decentraland’s token is MANA, which can be used for purchasing assets and services and governance.
Decentraland’s virtual land space is also called LAND, and the token records information such as circulation, ownership, location, and other information. LAND needs to be purchased with MANA, which is burned after each purchase. Users can use 3D modeling tools such as SketchUp to create items or contents and import them into the game to be used on the land.
Axie Infinity is an Ethereum-based open-world game about collecting and raising strange creatures. Axies were one of the earliest NFT pets that could be used in battle.
Sky Mavis, Axie Infinity’s development team from Vietnam, completed a Series A financing round in May, with participants such as Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA Dallas team, and Animoca, the gaming company. Other partners include Ubisoft, Binance, and Samsung.
Axies, like real-world pets, can reproduce their offspring by breeding. Each Axie reproduces up to seven times, requiring a small amount of ETH and a specific amount of the currency SLP (Small Love Potion), which is a token within Axie Infinity. The new Axie will inherit the various traits of the two Axies involved in breeding. Axies can be sold in the secondary markets, with an Axie selling at the highest price of around 300 ETH, worth $130,000 USD.
Axie Infinity’s Metaverse Land is called Lunacia, with a total of 90,601 lots, each of which is a rare NFT, and the price of each lot varies depending on its geographic location.
Some of the Metaverse Projects (Data Obtained from CoinGecko on June 24)
Metaverse is one of the current development trends, but it still faces many challenges.
- Cross-platform: It is difficult to directly transmit data between different game worlds, NFT platforms, and cryptocurrency platforms.
- Standards and Contents: An important feature of the Metaverse is that users create content. There are no complete standards for content auditing for the time being, and there are also problems where the content in individual virtual spaces might violate the laws in the real world.
- Ecosystem: Currently, the protagonist of the Metaverse is the player, and more kinds of roles and professions are needed to achieve a sufficiently realistic world.
- Market: The demand for Internet users, game markets and virtual goods is growing very rapidly, and the Metaverse is able to meet this part of the people’s needs perfectly.
- Economy: In virtual space, there are economic models that are similar to the real world and incorporate innovative elements of Web3.0, and they can never be stopped.
- Social layer: The Metaverse can provide an immersive social experience with a high degree of user engagement and a more powerful feeling than that of the real world.
Overall, the Metaverse is still in the early stages, and although virtual space is a bit rough, the entire concept still has tremendous potential.