You've probably heard the hype: the metaverse will alter your lifestyle.
As a vision for the next step in the evolution of the internet, the metaverse refers to digital worlds where people will work, play, and socialize. Some of these online environments will be immersive 3D experiences that require the use of special glasses. Others will unfold on a computer monitor. The term has been in flux and may continue to evolve and rename itself.
Technological fads come and go. The metaverse could fizzle out prior to its actualization. However, interest continues to increase at this time. It has become a recurring phrase in gaming, NFTs, and shopping.
Microsoft's planned $69 billion acquisition of ActivisionBlizzard was explained as an expansion into the metaverse. Facebook rebranded itself as Meta last year, a nod to the social network's aspiration to be a leader in the new world. In discussions about what the metaverse is or will be, Rec Room and world-building games such as Roblox and Minecraft are included.
For decades, the term metaverse has circulated. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D computing – the underlying technologies – are even older. The current interest surge is merely the most recent apex of a decades-long effort to make these developments accessible to everyone.
What has changed is a shift in perception, a conviction that the internet must be reconceived. Nobody can predict how extensive these modifications will be. After all, the metaverse's road map is only partially paved. It is unclear whether this will be completed as promised.
Unquestionably, if there is money to be made, large corporations will be involved. In addition to Microsoft and Meta, Qualcomm, Nvidia, Valve, Epic, HTC, and Apple are conceiving of novel online connection methods. Consequently, you will hear more about the metaverse in the coming years.
That is yet to be determined. There are currently no standards for the metaverse, and numerous companies are vying to lay the foundation that others will follow. Facebook, Microsoft, Sony, Epic Games, as well as a slew of smaller companies, are all working on projects in an effort to gain first-mover advantage. It is unknown whether the VR headset of one company will be compatible with the expansive multiplayer world or cloud-based graphics of another company. Most businesses promise a metaverse that welcomes other businesses. However, this requires them to agree on how they will collaborate.
Interoperability is crucial, according to Meta, which plans to invest billions in its metaverse endeavors. If you have a Facebook avatar, it should be compatible with Microsoft platforms. This implies a singular metaverse. If you attempt to move a skin you purchased in Fortnite to a different platform, you'll quickly discover that those items are locked to the battle royale game.
The vision of a single metaverse supporting services from numerous companies is reminiscent of the early Internet's utopian ideals. As soon as the early pioneers realized how much money could be made online, all bets were off. In all likelihood, the metaverse will be the same. If Zuck and others are correct, allowing customers to move will put too much money at risk for businesses.
Our best guess, and this is only a guess, is that the metaverse will begin as a collection of competing platforms, each claiming to be the metaverse. Consider a setting that resembles the early days of instant messaging, when services were fragmented. In time, however, standards will emerge, and eventually the major players will employ compatible technology, resembling email protocols. Currently, the internet is characterized by battles between agreed-upon protocols and proprietary standards, content from a multitude of companies, and competing software ecosystems.
The concept behind the premium, headset-required Metaverse is an immersive, 360-degree digital world. You will be able to design your own avatar, and you will own digital assets, the titles of which will likely be recorded on a blockchain. Some believe you will purchase digital land and construct online homes where you can entertain your friends (or at least their avatars).
This may sound fantastical or absurd, but wagering has already begun on the value of digital land. Tokens.com, a Canadian company, spent nearly $2.5 million on virtual property in Decentraland, a spiritual successor to Geocities or Second Life's 3D world platform. (In Decentraland, purchases are made using an ethereum blockchain token.)
Others perceive an experience that is more fluid. There are already simpler versions of metaverse experiences, such as Roblox and Fortnite. These games are not as immersive as the metaverse that Zuck describes, but they provide a reasonable indication of what is planned.
All of our current internet activities indicate how the metaverse may evolve. There will be some gaming, Zoom telepresence, VR and AR elements, and an abundance of social media. Anticipate numerous attempts to make it entertaining or useful.
That depends on your desired destination. Facebook would like you to purchase an Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. Although the hardware is self-contained and does not require a PC or game console to operate, it costs $300. Other VR headset manufacturers include Valve, HTC, HP, and Sony, whose equipment is compatible with PCs and PlayStation 4/5. By the end of the year, there will be a greater number of headsets, some of which may connect to mobile devices.
Several other companies, including Microsoft and Magic Leap, produce AR headsets that overlay digital information on the real world and are significantly more expensive. Qualcomm and other companies are developing methods for augmented reality (AR) glasses to work with smartphones, although the majority of applications have thus far been experimental or business-oriented. Snap's prototype augmented reality (AR) glasses, or glasses like the Nreal Light, demonstrate how much work is still required before you'd even consider purchasing them.
Existing metaverses, such as Roblox and Minecraft, can also be accessed from a computer, tablet, or smartphone. These platforms do not provide a 360-degree experience, but their popularity demonstrates their appeal.
The term was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash, in which the protagonist, a pizza delivery driver, inhabits an online virtual fantasy world. The concept was updated in the 2011 novel Ready Player One, in which people gather in the Oasis metaverse, which inspired Facebook to launch the Oculus Rift.
Linden Lab created Second Life, a virtual world that debuted in 2003 and attracted automobile manufacturers, record labels, and computer manufacturers to open digital outposts. Additionally, CNET had a presence in Second Life. After an initial surge, Second Life's popularity waned gradually, though it remains active.
As metaverses, games such as Minecraft, Roblox, and Fortnite have also been described. Concerts, including performances by rapper Travis Scott and pop star Ariana Grande, have brought attention to the already popular shooter Fortnite. The international Soundwave Series of Fortnite features musicians from Egypt, Mali, and Japan. All three games allow for the creation of worlds, which is fundamental to the concept of the metaverse.
A two-year pandemic has prompted us to redefine the term "virtual." No one has yet perfected the future's appearance. But there is currently a rethinking of what it means to gather virtually and on a large scale. And many individuals wish to define it.