People will respond differently when asked what the metaverse is, depending on who they ask and how they use the internet. However, the term “metaverse” is most commonly used to describe virtual areas where people (as avatars) can move about and engage with one another. The Metaverse is an online virtual environment that may be visited using computers or virtual reality headsets. While Neal Stephenson created the term “metaverse,” the concept of a virtual world being online is not new. In reality, there are already a number of popular virtual worlds, such as Second Life and Minecraft.
To be more clear, Metaverse is an open digitally enhanced virtual space where users can work, play, and socialize through a personalized avatar. As this space is getting ‘too big to ignore’ with a projected value of $1 trillion by 2030, more and more users and businesses are transitioning to be a part of the metaverse ecosystem. The main goal is to replicate reality in an immersive virtual world where you can experience sociability, entertainment, education, and any application people imagine.
Core offerings of Metaverse
Although it is in a very early stage, many companies and projects are already offering services and indulging their users in their metaverse ecosystem. Some of the services include –
- Business and Commercial Use – The metaverse may change how businesses and consumers interact with products, services and each other. The metaverse promises a stunningly realistic 3D digital world where you can (for example) purchase and sell goods and services, sign and enforce contracts, recruit and train talent, and interact with customers and communities. As companies and businesses are getting familiar with the Web 3 ecosystem, they are constantly investing and planning to switch their operations and platforms as they see a bright future prospect in it. Be it Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of Meta) who not only changed the name of his company Facebook but also created a virtual reality world where business meetings and conferences can be held. During the launch of Horizons Workrooms, he held a virtual press conference where all the participants appeared as avatars.
- Gaming – The gaming sector has evolved a lot when we compare it to the earlier years where the users have been stuck to their single flat screen at their homes for years. The Metaverse sector, powered by VR technologies, has given a whole new realistic experience to the gaming world and the users by adapting them to the environment around them.The development of the gaming world into this highly immersive virtual experience is owing to the Metaverse. Not only has it helped transform the gaming industry, but also helped it in gaining major traction because of the new features the gaming world can now introduce to the customers using the metaverse offerings. Although the metaverse gaming is very much in an early stage, many projects have emerged with their ecosystem to provide the users with this experience. Notable players include Sandbox, Axie Infinity, Decentaland and Epic games.
- Travel and Tourism – Aside from its social component, businesses are also exploring the various opportunities the metaverse provides for them to reach customers wherever they are. This has then led to the metaverse being seen as one of the emerging tourism trends. As metaverse tourism opportunities continue to emerge, and as user adoption increases, it is likely that the metaverse will play a larger role in the tourism industry, enhancing communication and the customer or guest experience. As the covid-19 pandemic hit the entire tourism industry, metaverse emerged to be one of the potential ways of traveling and experiencing a different world. MetAmazonia, incubated by TDeFi, is an upcoming project where users will be able to travel and buy a plot in the Amazonian forest. The users will get to experience the beauty of the forest along with contributing to the project’s aim of sustainability.
Concerns of Metaverse
As mentioned earlier, metaverse is nothing but a virtual world where users can interact and engage with each other. Although it sounds to be exciting & people are switching to the metaverse on a daily basis, it also brings in some concerns which has or can create trouble for the users as well as the entire industry. Some of the concerns include –
- Privacy Issues – One of the biggest privacy issues in the Metaverse right now – anyone who has access to your credentials can completely impersonate you in the virtual world. The consequences are large in fact because then they would have access to all your virtual life (from education to jobs to livelihood and even your economics). Metaverse developers and platforms are hardly unaware about the privacy concerns raised. Indeed, there has already been reports of digital sexual assaults happening in the metaverse. Cybersecurity firms have warned about the risks the metaverse poses to customers. Meta itself has put $50 Mn towards making the metaverse safe.
- Health Issues – It is well known that metaverse can be addictive for some people which in fact can create health issues especially for kids. After experiencing the immersive platforms, metaverse can often take a toll on children’s mental health as they can often feel lonely in the real world.
- Potential violent behaviour of users – As metaverse games are getting introduced, it is also evident that the action genre games are also getting to be a part of this ecosystem. As the whole experience of metaverse is immersive, it is a possibility that the user can imbibe that trait inside him/her which can result in potential violent behaviour of the user.
- Cybercrime – Since the metaverse is a new concept, it still doesn’t enjoy these sophisticated cyber security levels. This makes it extremely vulnerable to all sorts of illegal activities, such as fraud, money laundering, child exploitation, illegal goods, services trafficking, and cyberattacks, to name a few.
Future prospects of Metaverse
As NFTs and Crypto begins to be incorporated into the metaverse concept, the future metaverse will resemble our real world in many ways and may even replace some real-world activities which includes walking and hanging out. Some metaverse NFT sellers have already made it possible for their NFTs to be used in games that feature apparel and footwear in the metaverse be it Nike who bought a virtual shoe company that makes NFTs and sneakers ‘for the metaverse’ and more brands are preparing to enter the market. As more and more brands and companies are entering the metaverse the participation of creators will increase from all across the world.
Big brands engaging in Metaverse
Balenciaga, which is a luxury fashion brand, entered the metaverse through a collaboration with the video game makers Epic Games. The collaboration led to some limited edition outfits and avatars accompanying a real world Fortnite and Balenciaga clothing line. The partnership was crucial considering the 330 million users of Fortnite.
Nike acquired RTFKT which is a non-fungible token studio in December 2021 as a tool to access the metaverse. RTFKT produces NFT collectibles and memes,which include digital sneakers and wants to merge culture and gaming. Nike and its acquisition of RTFKT clearly shows that they intent produce and sell Nike virtual footwear, apparel, and accessories in the metaverse.
Samsung, the technological giant is actively making its presence in the virtual world. The company decided to open up a Samsung Metaverse store. The introduction of the store was done so that people could visit and have fun. It will be a flagship store that will open in the Decentraland’s Metaverse.
Coca-Cola x Decentraland
Coca-Cola launched their NFT collection in Decentraland last year. This makes it another brand in Decentraland. The company threw a party and auctioned NFTs in the metaverse. The Auction was done on Friendship day so as to make it special a Coca-Cola Friendship Box NFT Package was also opened.
Metaverse is still in its early stages. It is unclear how long it will take to be fully developed or to what extent it will be able to replicate real life. However, one certain thing is that it has the potential to be the next revolution in the virtual reality world. It can change our perception of the internet and social media interactions. By presenting its multidimensional aspects, the metaverse has already caught the attention of some of the technological giants and brands of the world. Metaverse has introduced a whole new concept of socializing and a virtual world, however the health and the privacy concerns cannot be ignored. With the web3 industry booming in recent years, it will be exciting to see how the metaverse will expand and reach users worldwide while tackling some major concerns.