What Is a Metaverse and Who Profits From It?

What Is a Metaverse and Who Profits From It?

Most attempts to explain the term Metaverse go down to comparing it to Ready Player One. That’s hardly a great example: it invokes avatars, races, and the final battle but almost completely omits the issue of ownership.

An actual metaverse is no Ready Player One, nor is it The Matrix, or an MMORPG on steroids. It’s a merger of web3, blockchain, and virtual reality. So here goes our explanation.

Metaverse for Dummies

Metaverse is the internet of tomorrow. It’s interactive, supports VR and p2p financial transactions. It can be used for communication, entertainment, or even work. If you’re a developer who finds it comfortable to work with three displays, you could replace them with a nice VR helmet, link it to a Metaverse and create as many displays as you want. You can place them in the middle of outer space or on a shore of a warm southern sea. If you need help, your friend can connect directly to you and point at a bug in your code. And when you’re done working, you can sell your app right in the metaverse, buy a virtual land plot, and build a virtual office there where your future customers will come.

Metaverses have many use cases: selling digital objects, communicating, organising your work, showcasing physical goods, learning, or literally any interactive thing one can devise. Using VR is not necessary: it just spices things up a lot.

Why Metaverses Need Blockchain

The main objective of a metaverse is to give users tools for harnessing their creativity. The quality of those tools, as well as available creative opportunities, define the original network’s versions:

  • web1 is about the manual creation of web pages with texts, hyрerlinks, and images.
  • web2 is about the fast creation of social media pages, creating photos and videos on the web, and so forth.
  • web3 is about creating virtual worlds, mechanics, and digital objects with definitive ownership.

Aside from that, web3 implies much stricter treatment of digital ownership rights than today. Imagine that you have to pay $5 a month for each virtual monitor. Or, if you want to have a virtual concert, you could model the set design or rent it from someone else. That’s where blockchain comes in, as NFTs confirm the rights of ownership while smart contracts help with agreements like selling a 3D guitar.

Metaverse: Origins

The first metaverse arguably came about in 1995 as Active Worlds. It was something like advanced Minecraft: users could build anything they wanted, create their own 3D models, upload their textures, and even get ownership rights for their terrain and the objects on it. Developers profited from selling annual subscriptions called “citizenship.”

In 2003, Active Worlds met their rival in the likeness of Second Life. Initially, it supported only communicating, building, and developing internal scripts to change the looks and motions of their avatars, create new gameplay mechanics, and make some activities automatic. As a result, some people took orders to create avatars, builder companies, in-game developers for hire, sellers of their own clothes, advertising agencies, tycoons, bankers, bookies, foreign language teachers and translators, athletes, travellers, and even photographers who bought a camera script and made money by shooting avatars.

If the game lacked something, players wrote their own scripts and tweaked the gameplay, including the exchange of the in-game currency for USD and the speculation on the exchange rate fluctuations. Military-minded people sold scripts for in-game weapons, ancient world geeks bought Roman tunics to go to the virtual Forum to listen to Cicero’s invectives against Catilina.

Even with all that, Second Life wasn’t a full-fledged metaverse due to the ownership rights: user-generated content is stored on the developers’ servers and the players in fact own nothing. This is the problem that blockchain, NFT, and decentralised data storage seek to change. A good example of that is Decentraland, where players create items and gameplay mechanics in the form of NFTs.

Right now, there are many big players involved in creating metaverses: Meta (ex-Facebook) just does something, Epic Games set virtual concerts within Fortnite, Gucci and H&M opened stores within Roblox, while Unity and Microsoft work on creating VR tools. All those companies are confident that metaverses will become the trend of the decade.

Who Will Profit From Metaverses

Judging from the experience of Active Worlds, Second Life, and many MMORPGs, they are not very much different from real life in terms of making profits. You can do routine work for small money, you can create content and sell it for more money, or you can use it to boost your real-life productivity. So, if you’re able to make money in your life, you’ll be able to profit from a metaverse, too. Especially if you’re already a tycoon.

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