Metaverse, a buzzword everyone keeps mentioning as the next logical step, or phase of the development of the internet. A merger between the virtual and digital world. How far will it go, and in what direction, is still too early to say. Its inevitable expansion in the years to come will be more possible and successful with rising technologies and visions yet to become reality. The intertwined and complex universe will need a solid infrastructure and getting everyone on-board to support such a step.
Once just a coined word in a sci-fi novel by Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash in 1992 representing a futuristic world, metaverse was another far fetched idea at the time. Yet again, imaginative ideas are becoming reality. We have plenty of technology at our disposal, and as new ones emerge, so do new ways of mixing them and creating new technologies. Metaverse is such a compilation of ideas and technologies and, although in its infant phase, we cannot even imagine which new technologies will be there to shape it.
Thanks to social networks, VR, AR, MR and video conferencing, it has become easy to create online spaces where people can interact and have a more lifelike experience. The immersiveness of the metaverse can easily be explained by the shift of activities online because of the global health crisis and the increased demand for online spaces and interaction. Not that there wasn’t a need for such a space, its expansion was simply accelerated by current events.
Similar worlds already exist in the gaming world, such as Fortnite, Sandbox games and Roblox. Gaming is a fast-growing industry, and the global gaming market is expected to reach a value of USD 314.40 billion by 2026. People not only enjoy playing games, but enjoy watching others play as well. It’s all about the fun activity, experience and characters we become once we step into these universes. Fortnite and Roblox host virtual events where millions can attend. Travis Scott’s and Ariana Grande’s performance were quite spectacular virtual events hosted by Fortnite and gave its viewers an innovative experience. Interconnected universes are still not a thing, but maybe one day a Roblox character will easily visit Fortnite. The end goal of a Metaverse is a fully interconnected, intertwined and interoperable world, but it is not intended to replace real life. Just to add another dimension to it.
The rising demand for these multidimensional spaces is there. Facebook is planning to rebrand and transition from a social network company to a metaverse company in just 5 years. Microsoft and other giants have also jumped on the bandwagon, and it is going to be interesting what they will all come up with within the next few years. But what most are hoping for is a decentralized community where there isn’t one giant corporation pulling all the threads. That is a bit difficult to imagine since everyone wants to have a piece of the cake.
A new 3D decentralized community was launched recently, Decentraland. This 3d community is a specific type of multiverse that uses blockchain technology. NFTs are also gaining popularity and it is becoming more evident how our behavior and the way we value things are shifting because of technology. Some fashion houses have even created virtual clothing for avatars in the multiverse. If you think about it, the possibilities are endless. Good real estate property in such a multiverse could go for a few hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions. The cryptocurrency, although many saw no value or interest in it, skyrocketed. It is impossible to say how far this all will go and will there be another internet bubble burst, or in this case a multiverse bubble burst. It is all too early to say.
One thing is sure, people are eager for a persistent, lifelike, parallel universe that is governed by other rules. In such a world you can be whoever you want to be, fulfill some of the craziest fantasies, overcome disabilities, interact with people, do business, the possibilities seem endless. It is impossible to say how long it will take to create a unique multiverse or if a totally new trend will emerge and lead everything into a completely different direction. The dark side of innovations is always there, and it is hard to say if it will bring us more good or bad, but let us wait and see how these technologies evolve and observe the new that will emerge.