A metaverse is simply an expanse of digital space where users can interact with each other in real-time and get similar experiences to what they experience in the real world.
In this article, we'll take a look at what metaverses are (and more importantly what they are not), why they matter, and then explore some of the most popular metaverses that exist today.
Let's dive in.
What (Isn't) the Metaverse?
Some even link the concept of metaverse to a game, like Fortnite. And this is where most people get it right because the idea of a metaverse (in some way) is quite similar to the idea of entering a new world of gaming, like Fortnite. Many features of the metaverse, like having a consistent identity across various closed platforms, giving users the ability to get compensated for content, and being a gateway to a multitude of features, are already offered by the game. However, because this is a "closed" world (read: metaverse), this again fails to encompass the much wider expanse of the metaverse. Thus, while Fortnite is definitely conceptually a metaverse, it is one that exists in itself and operates within the boundaries set by its creators.
This is where the true definition of a metaverse is derived.
What Is the Metaverse?
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A Metaverse Is Infinite
A Metaverse Is Synchronous
A crucial point to add here is that it offers synchronous communication between users from all over the world. Thus, it offers (potentially) billions of users the ability to interact in real-time.
A Metaverse Is a Thriving Economy
This point is a complement to the first core feature outlined above. Since it is an extension to the real world, users have the option to offer and receive the same experiences that they would in the real world. For instance, artists can host art shows, philosophers can hold discussions, colleagues can host meetings and the list is simply endless. A simple token mechanism can be implemented for the exchange of value.
A Metaverse Is Interoperable
This is true. But when we say that the metaverse is interoperable, it means that whatever skin I choose for my character in a particular conception of metaverse can also be ported easily over to another conception that is being implemented by a separate entity.
A crucial point to note here is that several different entities can establish their own metaverse. For instance, Meta can create a social space for its users or Microsoft can create a dedicated co-working metaverse. The general idea remains the same, while the implementation is different.
Now that we have discussed what metaverse conceptually is, let's look at some of the most popular metaverses that exist today.
Let's understand how it works.
How Does Decentraland Work?
- MANA: To vote on major governance decisions, users lock their wMANA (wrapped MANA) into the DAO. Thus, each wMANA represents a singular vote in governance proposals. The token can easily be acquired on the Decentraland marketplace by simply selling digital items that you have collected.
- LAND: This is the NFT that represents ownership of the virtual real estate on the platform. This token, too, provides voting power to their holders.
What Is So Special About Decentraland?
It is the first decentralized metaverse that offers you the option to interact with other users in real-time and acquire virtual experiences and trade them. The lack of a centralized authority implies that you exert absolute control over how you want to participate within the marketplace, the experiences that you want to create and how you wish to maintain the virtual land that you already possess.
The entire metaverse is based on Ethereum, thus replacing the centralized authority with hundreds of different smart contracts that give you limitless options to what you can do within the metaverse.
Decentraland consists of three primary layers.
The first layer is responsible for recording ownership via smart contracts.
The second layer stores LAND content and all the data that has been uploaded to the virtual parcels on the metaverse.
The third layer is the peer-to-peer network which enables you to interact with other users in real-time.
The underlying programming language utilized by the metaverse helps create dynamic scenes and 3D models.
How Does Bloktopia Work?
Bloktopia has 21 levels through which you have to go to reach the "top". These levels are explained below.
- Spawning: Just when you enter the metaverse, you are "spawned" outside the Bloktopia skyscraper.
- Level One: This is the place that all Bloktopians have access to and is said to have the largest footfall. It consists of pricing charts, a helpdesk, a navigation area, and so on. You will also have the opportunity to register yourself for various events. Some of the space is commercialized with the likes of Binance, CoinMarketCap, and Coingecko promoting their products.
- Penthouse and Gaming: This is the eventual destination for all Bloktopian explorers. It is the 21st floor of the skyscraper and it features a penthouse that is reserved exclusively for gaming. This is the space where you compete for BLOK by playing various games.
- Auditorium: The auditorium is where most key events in the crypto world are hosted. When you register yourself for any event in the first level, you are directed to this level to attend them. Attendance within these events is rewarded via BLOK. The auditorium is considered a premium location within the metaverse.
What Makes Bloktopia Special?
The stunning visual experience! In addition to that, the metaverse also incentivizes you to learn and earn at the same time. Here are some core features of the metaverse that make it stand apart.
- #learn: The metaverse provides a platform where you can join other users to learn the fundamentals of crypto.
- #earn: Just like in Decentraland, you can own land in Bloktopia. You can use that land to earn passive income, for instance, by leasing it to a fellow user.
- #create: You can use their provided builder tool to create different artworks and experiences for fellow users. Experienced developers can also use the SDK to create games within the metaverse.
Just like every other metaverse, you can enjoy a vivid social experience by participating in multiple activities. The visual immersion complements that experience incredibly.
How Does The Sandbox Work?
The metaverse is made up of three main products that are listed below.
- Sandbox Marketplace: This is the place where you can trade your ASSETS with fellow users. To do that, however, you need to upload them to the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS).
- Sandbox Game Maker: It gives you the option to create 3D games at zero cost.
A crucial feature of the metaverse is that it covers the Ethereum gas fees, thereby not having the user pay exorbitant fees. This creates a much more seamless and immersive experience for the users.
What's So Special About The Sandbox?
The metaverse alsooffers you the option to create customized avatars that can be traded on their native marketplace. Since these are NFTs, they are provably scarce digital items that can be used in the marketplace. Additionally, you can also lease your LAND for some passive income.
How Does Star Atlas Work?
- $ATLAS: This is the usual in-game cryptocurrency. Players generally earn that by engaging in activities like mining ore, creating assets, and trading on the marketplace. All the assets in the metaverse are NFTs, which means that every item within the game is owned by at least one player.
- $POLIS: This is the cryptocurrency used for participating in the governance of the game. Thus, the holders of these tokens can form factions, communities, and even behemoth corporations that influence the core decisions of the game. The idea is to give players the chance to "out-vote" the creators.
What Makes Star Atlas Special?
Star Atlas provides players the opportunity to literally do whatever they want, and have utmost fun while doing it. For that very reason, they have created a governance system where players have as much right to the future of the metaverse as the creators themselves.
Imagine being able to build entire nations within the metaverse! Because you have control over how the economics of your community work, you can create micro-nations and form several sub-DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations). Since everything is tokenized, every player has ownership over the asset they possess. This creates a truly individualistic experience where every player feels special.
The metaverse also features an unconventional deflationary mechanism through which players can indulge in much riskier activities like exploring deeper areas of the metaverse in an attempt to gain higher rewards. Those who succeed in their adventurous pursuits might succeed or perish. If they perish, then other users can collect the NFTs that get lost in the battle.
What Is the USM Metaverse?
It is a unique metaverse where each player is considered a "builder". Thus, you have the option to build your own social network, establish a custom economic system, and create an entirely new virtual civilization.
NFTs are used to denote ownership of digital items. One of the core highlighted features of the metaverse is the "Kiss-Up Dog" NFTs, which can be bought on their website.
Meta is one of the most recent (and much talked about) metaverses in the world today. Given that a platform like Facebook decided to dive into this digital realm is symbolic of the fact that Mark Zuckerberg is focused on creating revolutionary spaces where people can connect with each other.
Unlike Facebook, Meta will offer virtual experiences to users where they will all come together to share experiences. While the attempt is commendable, critics have highlighted the fact their version of the metaverse will be more like a separate world than being a continuum of the existing one. This is because to access it, users will have to wear external devices (which again are being produced by the company).
How it works, what it will look like, and the extent to which the experiences will be available to users is still to be discovered.
The Bottom Line
While it would have been hard to imagine such a space not under the control of anyone, blockchain makes that possible. Again, just to highlight the definition of metaverse - it is not an isolated space (or spaces) that are controlled by different authorities. In an ideal world, all the different implementations of these metaverses will be bridged with each other, making the experience seamless for the users.
The "how" of all that is yet to be found.