I wrote an earlier piece for another blog about all of this Metaverse talk, and it proved to be quite popular, but some readers have asked me to write for a more public space, so, hello Hackernoon!
But instead of roasting Zuckerberg about his company’s rebrand (never meta worse idea, huh!), and poking more fun at them and their initial foray into the metaverse, we’ll leave the rest of the online world to be critical and point instead into the larger topic at hand: whether those people talking metaverse are walking the walk.
Remember back when companies were adding the word “blockchain” to their names just for the sake of riding the blockchain and crypto hype?
I’m talking about companies like Long Island Ice Tea, which changed their name to Long Blockchain Corp, for example. Nope, they had nothing to do with blockchain. There was no new crypto initiative. It was business as usual for the beverage company. And when their stocks rose by double-digit percentile figures, can you blame others for following suit and also attaching Crypto and Blockchain to their rebrands?
At least that was a straightforward gimmick. Around the same time, all manners of startups and companies started launching their very own crypto tokens in the hugely regrettable era we now know as the ICO years. Initial coin offering after coin offering mushroomed all over the space, each token completely identical to ERC-20 tokens on Ethereum (or other native tokens on other blockchains), yet each promising to completely revolutionize the so-and-so industry.
From medicine and healthcare to supply chain to automotive works and social media. Everything was going to be magically decentralized with a token. And people have poured billions into ICOs.
That didn’t end well, did it?
Now I’m a huge supporter of blockchain technologies -- even if I’ve sometimes been called a naysayer, for always trying to draw attention to shortcomings, for discussing unpopular opinions, for acknowledging the criticisms of detractors.
This is the reason I support projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum and why I don’t support the bulk of altcoin projects. During the heady days of ICOs, I warned that many projects then weren’t worth investing in. Then came DeFi, and now we arrive at the metaverse.
And there are many comparisons one can draw between all of these hyped sectors in the blockchain. Like altcoins projects, like ICO projects, like DeFi ones, I have to say that the bulk of metaverse projects are really just hopping onto the hype bandwagon and using “metaverse” as a mere tag, with few capable of producing a service or product beyond buzzword vaporware.
Want proof? Just go to Twitter and type in the #metaverse hashtag. Look at the latest and most popular Tweets. They’re almost chiefly blockchain game projects claiming that they’re working to build their versions of a metaverse. But pull back the thin veneer of NFTs and poorly-drawn art and plagiarized game concepts, and you see that very few of them are capable of even understanding the basic principles of metaverse building, let alone building the foundations for one.
According to Nike, for example, top of their priorities should be to buy companies that make NFT sneakers “for the metaverse.” In case you’re wondering why I find this ridiculous, it’s because anyone -- literally -- can mint an NFT. You don’t need to buy a company to do that for you since you already have in-house designers… right?
What about top “metaverse” tokens? Depending on which source you look at, most of the so-called metaverse-related tokens are mere copycats of some form of “Play2Earn” games, with barely any utility beyond breeding more NFTs in their games… never mind actually building a virtual world with the remotest concept of the metaverse.
Check out this random “Top Metaverse Tokens” chart:
UFO: Play2Earn blockchain game
POLC: Blockchain game with no game link on the website, just an exchange, marketplace, and trading. Much wow NFTs? Nope.
PYR: Play2Earn, whose website definition talks about a new token to “swap, trade and invest.”
Get the picture yet?
Now don’t get me wrong. I think some of them are at least building something that somewhat resembles a virtual world, with users interacting and engaging and living an alternate life in a digital layer mirroring our own.
And I acknowledge that many technology visionaries are working very hard, probably have been for years, to find practical and realistic ways to use a mix of emergent technologies. Blockchain, along with AI and virtual reality, can shape the future of fully virtual 3D environments that people and other physical entities can access and interact with in real-time.
We should recognize that the gaming industry has always been at the forefront of metaverse building. Some of the most impressive world-building today started life in gaming. Globally, gamers number in the millions, all plugging into some world online to live and interact with others, but blockchain gaming hasn’t reached that level yet and has a lot to learn from centralized metaverses.
However, I am saying that we need to give due recognition and throw our full support behind those companies and people who really are doing work to build innovations and make technological discoveries that will help the metaverse take shape.
So if you want to invest your time (and money) into the concept of the metaverse, then you’d do well to stay away from those only talking the talk.
And for my money, I’d count out almost every project that calls itself a metaverse token for the sake of being a metaverse token.