The concept of the Metaverse - vision for the future of the internet and communicationby@serkhitrov
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The concept of the Metaverse - vision for the future of the internet and communication

by Sergei KhitrovApril 4th, 2022
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What is the metaverse - a game, another social network or a new era of the Internet and Web 3.0. All about the metaverses: how they originated, what interesting projects are now and how the future of the metaverses is seen.

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What is the metaverse - a game, another social network, or a new era of the Internet and Web 3.0. We answer questions about the metaverse in a new article.

At the end of October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced a global rebranding - the Facebook social network has become Meta. In the hour-long video, Mark talks about changing the direction of the company towards the metaverse - a futuristic future where we can communicate with friends in a digital living room furnished to our taste. The presentation caused a storm on social networks, and the concept of the metaverse moved from memes to news headlines.

Can the presentation of Meta be considered the start of the concept of metaverses? Of course not. But this is a certain point in development, when even those whose interests did not go beyond the publication of photos of morning coffee on Instagram, started talking about it. However, it turned out that it is as difficult to understand the structure of the future metaverse, as it is in the structure of the usual one.

What is the metaverse?

Wikipedia says that it is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection. In other words, a part of the space where you can do ordinary things - play, communicate, study, hold business meetings, and, of course, shop. The implementation of existing projects is different and depends on the ambitions of their creators - some are like an addictive game, others like a social network or something in between the first two.

Metaverses differ not only conceptually - sometimes a PC will be enough to start exploring the virtual world, and for some projects, you will need a VR kit or a Metamask crypto wallet. Photo Source: The Verge

How did the metaverse begin?

The term itself was first used in science fiction more than 30 years ago in the book “Snow Crash” by Neil Stevenson. But virtual worlds, more or less similar to the metaverse, are not uncommon in art: the films The Matrix, Ready Player One, and many others. In them, the metaverse is like a virtual reality that you need to connect to, similar to how we access the Internet these days.

However even, in reality, virtual worlds are not new. Fans of the World of Warcraft game will tell you that they spent many hours in a fictional universe, where they took part in battles side by side, talked in taverns, and bought ammunition from each other for their characters.

The Sony Playstation had its vision of the metaverse. In 2008, they introduced the Sony Playstation Home virtual living room concept, where users could chat, meet, play virtual bowling, and create their rooms. Perhaps Sony was unlucky enough to be ahead of its time - the service had very few fans and was closed in 2015.

Minecraft and Roblox games are classified as proto metaverses. Minecraft players can create spaces, and replicate buildings and entire cities. Roblox is a platform that allows players to create their games, spaces, and digital items. Both games have become very popular and have hundreds of millions of players every day. The open world of two projects, which users can create for themselves, inspired the creators of other metaverses.

Travis Scott's concert in the game Fortnite can be considered the first major event in the metaverse. The concert was watched by more than 20 million players.

The future of the metaverse: concerts and exhibitions, meetings with friends, digital surfing, and all this without leaving home

In Facebook's metaverse vision, users will be able to communicate with each other in 3D and be able to do all sorts of things. For example, look into the virtual living room with your friends, communicate with them in voice chat, play cards, and then compete with a friend in tennis or 3D surfing. At the same time, it will be possible to contact close people outside of virtual reality. For example, with the help of future streaming technologies, it will be possible to join friends at a live concert without even leaving home.

Zuckerberg has no plans to monopolize the metaverse. Ideally, there will be many companies and creators. And blockchain and decentralized services will be able to connect them. For example, with the help of a crypto wallet and NFT technologies, the user will be able to transfer a 3D avatar outfit, a game with all items, or even a personal living room design to any game world they want.

In other words, the ideal metaverse is not run by a single company or community. It will be an open, blockchain-based structure that makes it easy to navigate worlds and spaces. At the moment, existing projects have their limits and such cross-game integration seems to be one of the biggest technical challenges.

According to the plans of the creators of Meta in the future, we will not have to cancel plans for going to a concert due to quarantine. Photo source: The New York Times

Metaverses today: from a virtual second life to buying real estate for crypto

The second half of 2021 was full of announcements - plans to present their metaverses were announced by Microsoft, Epic Games, NVIDIA, Roblox, and others. However, most of the products are at the initial stage and there are few details. If you can't wait to walk around the virtual world - here's where you can do it right now.


How to Explore: Through a browser

What you need: Metamask wallet

A metaverse based on the Ethereum blockchain in which users can communicate, create, consume and monetize content. All assets, including usernames, are in the form of NFTs that can be bought and sold in-game or on the OpenSea marketplace. If we compare Decentraland with the representation of the metaverse from the presentation of Facebook, then it is quite primitive. But it has been working for a couple of years and has attracted many major events - for example, at the end of March, the first fashion week was held in the game. However, due to the abundance of advertisements for clothing brands, the universe resembles a large shopping center in some places.

The Sandbox

How to Explore: Through a browser

What you need: Metamask wallet

The Sandbox is a game similar in concept to Decentraland, with Minecraft-style visual design and the ability to monetize land. Landowners in the game will be able not only to sell but also to rent out their plots. While the project is in the second part of alpha testing, it has already attracted many celebrities and brands into its world - from Snoop Dogg to Adidas and Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen.

Players can view a virtual map, select plots of land, and buy them through their crypto wallet with Sand, the game's official currency. In addition to owning NFT real estate, Sandbox offers a beautiful world and rewarded quests. Like in other similar games, in Sandbox you can create an avatar, dress it in Adidas and go meet people.

The Second Life

How to explore: download an SL viewer

What you need: PC

The oldest prototype of the metaverse has existed since 2003. This is an online platform where players create avatars and get a second life in the digital world. Second Life users, or "residents," can fully immerse themselves in the game, meet other people, attend events, and essentially live in the virtual world. In addition to socialization, in the game, you can complete quests, participate in various tournaments, listen to music and watch videos.

Second Life has its virtual marketplace where people can buy, sell and trade virtual items and many other items. Transactions use Linden virtual currency, which requires real money to purchase. Items range from virtual furniture and clothes to cars and real estate.

Horizon Worlds by Meta

How to Explore: Through the VR App

What you need: Oculus VR kit

Horizon Worlds is a free online virtual reality video game for the Oculus VR headset. Meta social network users can explore the space around them, teleport to other locations, chat with their friends and play games with them. The game is available in the US and Canada but is gradually expanding its geography.

In the game, you can visit countless worlds that are created by other players and are not limited in any way. However, the lack of restrictions in the gameplay has already caused several scandals. For example, several US residents have complained about being attacked by other users. Now employees of the company are working on improving the safety of avatars.

The future will come, but not the fact that soon

If you look at the already existing projects of the metaverses, it becomes clear why it is not yet possible to give a clear definition of this term. There is still a long way to go before a conceptually holistic project, is simple and accessible to all users.

Facebook says that the vision of the metaverse they presented is possible to realize in 5-10 years. This is both long and optimistic. Because it will take years to build the infrastructure for the metaverse, implement best practices, and most importantly add interoperability between platforms. Virtual reality is also far from mainstream - VR headsets are not available to most Internet users, as regular smartphones. And today's home laptop or tablet can't handle super-detailed 3D worlds with ease.

However, Bloomberg estimates that the metaverse market could be worth $800 billion by 2024. We are likely to see rapid growth in the industry in the coming months and years. It will probably be a long time before we live in the metaverse, but it's already interesting to see how it takes shape.