Facebook’s bold move to push for the metaverse has brought a flood of attention to the metaverse space. Questions such as “what will the metaverse look like?” and “how will it affect our daily lives?” are heavily discussed on YouTube and other social media chanels. We decided to take a closer look at Meta, Decentraland and the metaverse.
Connect people with computers and you have machine-controlled environments where people act as they do in the real world: making friends, chatting, and perhaps buying, selling and trading items of shared interest and value. The metaverse is nothing new.
Until fairly recently all of the above has been done in a 2D environment. Now, a new metaverse is emerging.
Yet, when a 3D reality is added, a larger audience is drawn in. The more appealing the aesthetics, the more people will participate, and the ever-increasing graphical beauty of metaverse worlds has attracted exponentially greater audiences. Every day, millions of people play multiplayer games online, immersing themselves in worlds that could only be dreamt of just a few short years ago. They can also kill, loot, pillage and build and destroy empires-if they’re into that sort of thing.
It’s all possible in the metaverse
For a large number of people, particularly young people, these places are as essential as, if not more important than, the “real world.” China has gone so far as to ban youngsters from multiplayer online gaming, calling it “spiritual opium”. This is why, with the exception of a few hours on weekends, China has prohibited young people from playing multiplayer games.
Even the most hazy online settings are interesting, and games are the most compelling of all for an audience willing to pay close attention to them. The problem is that games need significant commitments of time and effort, which most of us lack.
Most people prefer a life outside of a computer reality to one inside. That’s not to say they don’t want to play; they just don’t want to devote a significant amount of time to it.
Most individuals also dislike having to work hard in order to advance in a game. Hours and hours of slaughtering monsters or slaying dragons is not most people’s idea of a good time, which has resulted in a new generation of “pay to win” games.
In order to win games, players who are willing to throw down money can beat others by purchasing advantages. Need a special sword to defeat a tougher than expected dragon? It will cost you. But just as in the real world, time is money.
Such games typically rely on those with deep pockets who are willing to spend whatever it takes to win, with game developers building frustration engines to torture players into paying large sums to advance in a game rather than letting talent dictate success.
As a result, mobile games have evolved into psychologically tuned traps capable of ripping thousands of dollars from players who are competitive (or fragile enough) to be conditioned into game addiction in order to achieve a victory and equally important (at least to them) bragging rights.
This has evolved into an unethical billion-dollar industry.
Cryptocurrency: A true game changer
So you’ve been playing a game for months, spent hundreds of dollars on it, and amassed a large collection of strong game items. They are worth nothing unless you can sell them in the shadows of eBay or some other obscure marketplace. In effect, if you put in the effort and earned or won an item, it is worthless because there is no way to sell it for real money. In the game, game points and objects only have “worth.”
Cryptocurrency has changed that.
If you win a gaming item, say a special sword or magic shield, you can export it from the game into your crypto wallet, using an NFT (non-fungible token), which you can then sell on an NFT marketplace.
The game can sell products to players and conduct a market economy in which people sell to one another. Shazam! Now you have a ‘real-world’ economy functioning within the metaverse.
It’s actually an economy as old as selling your dated video games to others in order to buy the new cool ones you feel you must have.
This concept is now sweeping online games, where players can now monetize the skill and effort used to obtain that special sword because the value of those items is genuine, but has not been realized until now.
It’s a significant development, and fairly nascent projects such as Decentraland, Sandbox, and are now highly valued. Which brings us to the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the gorilla once known as Facebook.
Facebook morphs to Meta
Facebook is rebranding as Meta, with an infinite loop replacing the iconic F. Mark Zuckerberg has been devoting a huge amount of money and resources to position Facebook as Meta and to lead the world into the metaverse. While the timing of the announcement was panned by many, there is no denying the power that Meta will have in shaping the metaverse for the vast amount of people who aren’t currently engaged.
Will the metaverse be the world of Decentraland or some dystopian landscape? Possibly, if that’s where you want to spend your time. The metaverse will be what people want it to be, and as we continue to spend more and more of our time online, the choice, ultimately will be yours.
Whether people choose a centralized ‘Meta’ run by Zuck or truly decentralized virtual worlds will be played out in real time and whatever the outcome, will be fascinating to watch unfold.
I write about blockchain, crypto, NFTs and other disruptive technologies and innovations.