When you ask someone what a Metaverse is you will get two answers.
The first one of almost everyone is “I don’t know”. And it’s reasonable, since “Metaverse” is a pretty new topic. People more knowledge about will say that “it’s a virtual and parallel world”, and some of them will add “where you can join with a VR headset and live like in the real world” or something similar.
However, when you try to start a project about Metaverse or catalog already existent projects, you will come across a question: When does something start to be a Metaverse?
That is the moment when you realize that you only have the idea, but not the certainty about what it actually is.
Key components of a Metaverse
It is easy to find a number of definitions of the metaverse on the internet, but the issue is that they are pretty different from one another since the concept is so new it isn't completely defined.
As a result of this, we set out to identify the common and main characteristics of a Metaverse to have some base to start with.
After long research and discussion, we agreed to build a definition based on three main points, according to the Economist and Telecommunications teacher Edward Castronova.
A metaverse must have:
Interactivity: The user can communicate with others and with the virtual world.
Corporeity: The environment is subject to sort of physics laws of limited resources (he says it must be in “first-person”, however, we strongly think it’s not applicable for all cases, but it would be If we want to reach the ideal, which is a fully immersive experience).
Persistency: It should never stop running, all objects and positions of users and objects should persist even if no one is inside the metaverse.
We could say that Persistency and Interactivity refer to an online environment, and Corporeity to the way that the metaverse is created, which is in 3D. Additionally to make an ideal metaverse we could consider adding immersive technology like Virtual Reality or Augmented reality, and optionally implement blockchain technology to handle the economy and smart contracts (e.g., NFT).
So, which is the objective of a Metaverse?
The main goal is to replicate reality in an immersive virtual world where you can experience sociability, entertainment, education, and any application people imagine.
There are a lot of projects in progress. However, we will highlight those that are currently relevant.
Decentraland: One of the most popular ones. It allows you to join by a browser to a world divided by parcels, where you can buy one or more of them and build your own things there, like a house, playground, or whatever you think you could put in your space. Some companies buy several parcels to put a business, rent art gallery spaces, videogames, etc.
This metaverse uses blockchain technology to sell objects, handle the economy, and a lot of features provided by smart contracts. Also, they are planning to implement a VR feature in 2022
The Sandbox: Like Decentraland, it also sells parcels and has blockchain technology running. It is still in beta and differs graphically because everything looks like blocks (voxel style).
In addition, they partnered with Adidas to sell official clothes and accessories to The Sandbox's users.
Meta (former Facebook): This is the one that has brought the metaverse to be a topic to talk about using a strong marketing campaign. They have taken it seriously by changing the name to Meta and investing to dedicate a huge effort to realize the project, focusing especially on the social aspect.
Meta already owns the Oculus VR headset, which to date owns +80% of the VR headset market; with this product, Meta can offer a fully immersive experience.
Some final thoughts
Creators usually say that the limit is the imagination, with the arrival of the Metaverse we can add a new dimension to our ideas, everyone can create new worlds and move all our technology from 2D to 3D. Developers, 3D artists, blockchain specialists, designers, and many more roles will be fundamental to achieving all of this.
We do not know for sure what the future holds for this new concept. However, now we can understand it better and see its impact in our current days. Companies are betting hard on it and Metaverse is happening now. The question is: Are you going to be part of it?