Metaverse and cryptocurrency - the next evolution of the internet

Recently you may have heard or read about "Meta" in the context of Facebook and its move to evolve social connection through a platform that will attempt to bring the metaverse to life. The Metaverse has however been developing at a rapid rate within the cryptocurrency space for a while now, so in this article I will look at the Metaverse and cryptocurrency and explain why this is the next evolution of the int

So what does Metaverse really mean?

According to Wikipedia 'Meta' has the following definition:

Meta (from the Greek μετά, meta, meaning "after" or "beyond") is a prefix meaning "more comprehensive" or "transcending.

So essentially it means that it's 'seeing the thing from a higher perspective' instead of 'from within the thing', like being self-aware.

In the crypto space metaverse (a blend of "meta" and "universe") is a sector that has been exploding this year with a number of projects developing futuristic, three dimensional, virtual reality environments that contain shared spaces and environments in which users can interact with each other as well as data.

Current metaverse ambitions are concentrated on addressing technological limitations with modern virtual and augmented reality devices, as well as expanding the use of metaverse spaces to business, education, and retail applications. Numerous entertainment and social media companies have invested in metaverse-related research and development.

In certain quarters the metaverse has been criticised for being a method of public relations building using a purely speculative, "over-hyped" concept based on existing technology. Information privacy and user addiction are also concerns for those who participate in the metaverse, stemming from current challenges facing the social media and video game industries in general.

Many commentators and investors however see this as the next evolutionary step for the internet that will take an augmented reality approach and essentially provide people access to virtual spaces allowing people to interact socially, conduct work meetings, play games, buy online with e-commerce, and effectively build any environment that the imagination will allow.

How does crypto fit in?

How this ties in with the cryptocurrency space is that participants in these virtual spaces or worlds will have the capability of engaging in all manner of transactions using cryptocurrency tokens — tradeable digital assets that reside on a blockchain — as well as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in game related spaces or marketplaces.

From what I have seen in the crypto space in 2021 it looks as though gaming will lead the furor into the metaverse, but as the space grows I can see this being only a small part of what the metaverse will offer.

Admittedly virtual worlds currently exist, however these have centralised control and ownership, which effectively limits how these spaces evolve as it is a corporate entity that sets the rules. Furthermore, any purchases made by participants in these games or spaces can't be used anywhere else other than in the one centrally controlled space.

You won't be the product

Consider how you interact with almost any platform on the web; more often that not they are centrally run and controlled by a corporate, money making machine. Most users of Facebook for example fail to understand that they are the product of Facebook and not the customer.

If you ask the average person what Facebook is for the chances are they will answer something along the lines of 'it's there to help me make friends'. This is a sadly naïve idea as to how this platform functions.

When the Facebook board of Directors meet they don't sit and discuss how you can make more friends. They are talking about how to monetise your social relations and interests.

With the metaverse emerging in the crypto space it will thankfully operate in the complete opposite of this. Instead of greedy corporate executives determining the direction it will actually be the users who dictate what happens and how things evolve in the space.

Each metaverse will have its own economic infrastructure in place and the assets that exist in those spaces, such as real estate, buildings, artwork, vehicles, etc., will be owned by the users individually or as a collective.

By forming groups or decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) as they are known, it will be possible for a consensus to be reached with regards to implementing key decisions such as how assets should be managed. As the DAO would be run by the community as a whole, where necessary democratic voting could be implemented and as the rules would be set in code any decisions reached would be enforced by the blockchain itself.

In the metaverse users will not be the product, in fact everyone will both own and control their own data, and if the user so chooses to it will be possible to monetize that data.

Virtual economies

One can envisage many different virtual economies operating within the metaverse; perhaps in time it will even be possible to move from one to another.

The potential of this space is limited only by the human imagination, however it does give one a little cause for concern. As these environments develop and become more realistic will the participants even want to be present in the real world?

The metaverse games and virtual worlds that currently exist are somewhat graphically inferior to their console gaming counterparts. However if the past year or so is anything to go by play-to-earn gaming in the metaverse will lead the way and development in this sector will only accelerate.

Take the blockchain based game Axie Infinity by way of an example. The game was inspired by Pokemon and is powered by NFTs that allows players to breed and battle digital pets called Axies. It is powered by a “play to earn” philosophy. Players who engage with the game are given rewards based on the contributions that they make to the game. This is also why the game gained much popularity especially in the middle of the pandemic. It gave users, especially in the Far East, the ability to make an income during a difficult time, without them needing to have complex knowledge of what a blockchain actually is.

In time the play-to-earn blockchain gaming sector has the potential to become massive. The global gaming market, excluding blockchain based games, was valued at USD 173.70 billion in 2020, and it is expected to reach a value of USD 314.40 billion by 2026.

The play-to-earn market cap stands at around $34 billion, so there is plenty of room to grow especially in a space where players are able own their in-game assets rather than buy them but not be allowed to either remove them from the game or capitalise on them in any way.

As it stands the user experience in the metaverse has some ways to go to match what is found with the best console type games, however in time this will improve. Then when players get to experience the power of being able to own their digital gaming assets and appreciate how they can actually profit from playing a game, this will result in a paradigm shift which will force the current gaming industry leaders to move into the sector.

As metaverse games and virtual worlds develop players and participants will be able to not only invest in land and real estate but also own different types of equipment that can be functionally used in the environment and even be able to start businesses. For example, lets say you own a prime piece of real estate in a trendy area within a virtual world, you could open an art gallery and allow NFT artists to display their work in it and take a commission on any pieces that are sold as a result of someone coming in and viewing. Alternatively you may look to open a virtual night club and host popular DJs or bands and then charge an entrance fee using a cryptocurrency token and in the space people can get to interact with other people from all over the world. The possibilities really are endless.

The evolution of the metaverse has the potential to bring millions of new people into the crypto space, literally without them even knowing that they are. The fact that they will be able to play games or navigate virtual worlds which will allow them to interact with tokens that are held on a blockchain will in time just become a feature and benefit of engaging with these new virtual worlds. This is a truly positive sign for the future landscape of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology overall.

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I'm Paul

I am on a mission to help people start a journey to financial freedom. The key to long term success is education and understanding the incredible opportunity that exists right now.

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