October 28th, 2021 marks the date of a big shift. On that day, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will change the name to Meta, but it’s not the name that got the most attention. The nature of the service will change too. Zuckerberg wants to change a social media platform into a metaverse product. What is a metaverse and how to invest in a metaverse? Especially when Meta will not be the only player on the block?
Let’s address the elephant in the room – nobody truly knows what the metaverse will be. There is a vague image of what it can be and what the corporation wants from it. There’s also the truth – we are already living in an ecosystem of proof of concepts. Remember Second Life? A video game when you could live a literally second life, full of stores and meeting places? That’s exactly it. And what about Fortnite? An overnight video game hit, where real artists perform for millions of avatars and real-world people in front of screens?
First, let’s discuss metaverse meaning, then we’ll talk about how to invest in the metaverse. Also, we will dive into metaverse crypto and talk about traditional development supporting Meta’s vision.
Table of contents
- What is a metaverse?
- How to invest in the metaverse?
- Different metaverse meanings, different models of a metaverse
- What is the metaverse? A next phase-internet for gaming, work, e-commerce, and crypto
- The evolving nature of payments
What is a metaverse?
That’s the problem, we don’t have a clear definition yet, since no one exists today. We have prototypes (Fortnite), elements (Google Glass, Oculus, PlayStation VR), and legacy systems (Second Life). In a nutshell, though, a metaverse is a digital space that people can visit with their VR sets. There, they can interact with each other, virtually meet, buy items and services that will be delivered to them in the real world. That’s the closest definition we have today.
Private and professional use
Aside from that, people can bring with them a representation of nearly every object from a physical world. According to Zuckerberg, what today is a screen, tomorrow will be a hologram. Users could take their items and project them into the real world using mixed reality.
That’s one aspect of it. Social connecting, building experiences. Creating games together, watching movies in a totally virtual space. But what other implementations could be there?
Professional. Zuckerberg pointed out that remote work, which is here to stay for many people across the globe, can move to a metaverse as well. Holographic displays will support already existing Facebook, I mean Meta apps. Yesterday’s tools like Facebook’s Business Manager already morphed into Meta Business Suite which supports Instagram as well. By adding additional solutions and providing business context in a form of metaverse, Meta could transform the business environment and remote work habits.
Presence Platform – Handy tool for Facebook’s Metaverse developers
Presence Platform is a set of artificial intelligence (A.I.) tools that enhance virtual reality (VR) experiences. Since Meta specialists recognize that realistic representation of real-world objects and people is key for immersion, they invested in tools that support virtual reality’s sense of realism. Environmental understanding, content placement and perception, voice interaction and more will translate user’s intention into product performance. Meta has already introduced an Interaction SDK for easy implementation of human hand’s interactions.
Which, in Meta’s opinion, can be a breakthrough when it comes to playing in a VR environment. Playing means not only video games but a broad range of mere interactions as well. Imagine picking up a coffee mug for example. The process itself, manipulation and interaction schemes (environmental, object to object) are complicated endeavors. Interaction SDK will help with that, creating smooth experiences.
It’s important because Meta wants users to participate in various activities and mix them with work. Going into a virtual yoga class and taking notes on a virtual laptop is a good representation of that idea.
How to invest in the metaverse?
By understanding that at some point there probably will be a single metaverse but for now there are trailblazers that cooperate and compete with each other to form multiple variants for different firms.
Although a previously mentioned definition is true, today we have gateways and infrastructure, rather than a single system that Meta would like to call “metaverse”. Facebook’s “metaverse” is not a synonym for the entire phenomenon.
For now, metaverse’s meaning becomes clearly visible in the gaming world, not to be frank, not much else. If someone asks what the metaverse is, we can point him to games like Minecraft or Roblox, where digital presence in virtual worlds creates space for inclusive, social interactions.
We can also talk about Google Glass. Although non-existent in a “civilian” world, it had found its usage in warehouses and production plants. The product is used to monitor processes and takes control of some machines.
But it’s only a distraction. The key to the metaverse, as well as inspiration and guidelines, come heavily from the gaming world. It has been on the verge of innovation for years.
By investing in companies and products like Microsoft, Sony, Crypto Avatars, Coinbase, Solana, Unity, or Sorare, you have an option to support different elements of today’s ecosystem. Which is a precursor to a full-blown metaverse that will come in the future.
The true metaverse meaning – a diversified ecosystem
What passes as a prelude to Facebook’s metaverse is compiled of products belonging into a few categories:
- centralized or decentralized video gaming platforms
- avatar and virtual identity providers
- user interface and immersion solutions
- play-to-earn and play-to-collect systems
- virtual economy providers, apps, and systems
- cloud, scalability, and hosting solutions
- virtual and digital twin tools and platforms
- artificial intelligence solutions
- adtech and marketing products
That’s a lot. If a user would want to buy a product (maybe even through metaverse crypto) he or she would pass through at least one previously mentioned system. From that perspective, metaverse meaning lies in the notion that it would be an e-commerce and connectivity platform.
Why gaming is a perfect example of how it can work
Video games are an art form. The most advanced, complex, and demanding art form ever invented. It requires technological proficiency as well as soft talent for capturing the essence, meaning, and script-related consequences. It also encourages user-generated content, moves into the realm of games-as-a-platform (GaaP) or games-as-a-service (GaaS), and has interoperability standards.
Video games like the Destiny franchise or the newest iterations of the Assassin’s Creed series get content months and years after the initial launch. That’s GaaS. Now, some of them use industry standards in the production process. Like Pixar’s Universal Scene Description (USD) or NVIDIA’s Material Definition Language (MDL). These technical standards, interfaces, and protocols enable cross-application interoperability. For connection, in-app purchases, and communication. Does that ring a bell? Metaverse, anyone?
Video games work as a vehicle and soft entry point for consumers who may want experiences extending beyond the game itself. Life-service features (post-game support) became really popular among players. Gaming itself outgrew even movies, becoming the biggest form of entertainment on the planet.
Players buy add-ons, items, and other forms of extended content through classic and microtransactions. The industry struggled with brand placement since many implementations felt out of place and inauthentic. With the GaaS model, and Generation Z entering the stage, the perception has changed.
Historically, video games have been teenagers’ domain. Young people are fascinated with movies that have interactive components. Stories and characters that users can move around the screen, which was magical at a time. Times have changed, the definition of a gamer has changed. You don’t need a maxed-out, high-end computer, or even a console and TV set to play. All you need is a smartphone. That’s why the definition of a gamer has changed, bringing millions of people to the market.
So much in fact, that they are not a logical and natural audience for the metaverse. Not because of their even mild interest in gaming, but because of their gaming habits and muscle memory. People already know what a virtual interface is. They can play or work using a laptop and a smartphone. Tomorrow, they will bring these habits to Facebook’s metaverse.
Moving virtual hands to pick up a cup? No problem. Participating in a team meeting while doing notes about the work project on the side? Have at it. Putting aside practical aspects and people’s willingness to work that way makes sense from a business point of view.
The landscape’s already shifting. So much in fact, that market already has solutions for future models. For instance, Zebedee transforms the gaming world with Bitcoin. Players can earn Bitcoin during their playthroughs.
Different metaverse meanings, different models of a metaverse
Despite popular belief, there’s no one metaverse. That’s why, throughout the text, we were using “a metaverse”, rather than “the metaverse”. Facebook or Meta, is not the only company working on it. Multiple companies want to create their own systems or participate in their launch, creating gear or software. Currently, there are over 160+ companies interested in a metaverse.
Among them are Epic Games, Microsoft, Niantic, NVIDIA, and Apple. And China, let’s not forget about that. In China, there’s Tencent – a global leader in video games, that bought many western studios creating these products or holds shares in them. During the Tencent Annual Game Conference 2021, the company shared an interesting vision for its own metaverse.
Tencent metaverse meaning will hold value even… offline. That’s right. The giant wants to propose a version of the future where users can meet and connect with each other through an online platform but play and interact also during real-life events. It’s called the “Super Digital Scenario”.
Another Chinese giant, NetEase, is also making a move towards metaverse. The company’s founder, William Ding Lei, as well as Baidu representative, told South China Morning Post last year, that their companies are „redyeing technologies” for the trend. All companies are so involved with it now, that NetEase quietly registered various trademarks for this next phase of the internet.
What is the metaverse? A next phase-internet for gaming, work, e-commerce, and crypto
Here’s where we finally arrived at the tailored software development, and other digital services for the metaverse, as well as consequences for various industries.
One of them is an introduction of metaverse crypto and non-fungible tokens (NFT). What is an NFT? It’s data is stored in a blockchain, that certifies ownership of this unique piece of a digital good. In other words, it’s like going to a conveyancer to attest ownership.
Now imagine a metaverse as a giant, borderless platform full of interactions, games, products, services, and stores. A user can buy anything, anywhere, anytime. He or she can pay with metaverse crypto and then get an NFT as proof of purchase and ownership. Let’s go deeper. Let’s say Epic Games, a company that created Fortnite closed down the game overnight. A market full of digital items worth more than $1 billion, would disappear. What if a gamer could get proof that he’s the owner and then transfer the item into another game or display it on some kind of wall of fame, for anyone to see? With metaverse crypto and NFTs, it’s totally possible.
Sure, there will be legal, identity, and data-related issues, but it’s doable. At least it will be at some point. Especially when a majority of core digital products and services shift from monolith towards a microservices architecture. Apps can be flexible enough to react towards market changes; enabling GaaS features, for example. Definitely flexible enough to hold metaverse crypto coins transactions. Regardless of what metaverse crypto-list there will be and what currencies people will actually use. Bitcoin? Ethereum? Local currency, dedicated to a particular meta platform?
Crossing the chasm – other industries
Today, people are not exactly the owners of their items. They play games based on licenses, issued by the game’s owners and publishers. They are lending the right to play. Now, imagine a scenario where a person wants to actually hold the right to the item. Lend it for profit, or sell it. Or even buy a digital representation of a physical object that is too expensive, but the desire to have it is so strong that an imitation will do. Today it’s impossible. Tomorrow it can be done.
That’s where metaverse crypto and NFT come in. If there was an ecosystem supporting the best metaverse crypto or even a single cryptocurrency, the buying process would be easier. Therefore, the management of IP rights, licensed or branded items, could be more effective.
The problem with the current state of the metaverse meaning is that people are still too isolated with their experiences. They restrict what is supposed to be a totally immersive world. Games, especially mobile games, can be addictive and people can even link their Facebook accounts to them. But considering the metaverse, it’s an imitation.
In a fully-blown metaverse experience, fragmented ecosystems, products, services, and infrastructure are bridged to form a unified platform. Characterized and driven by its interconnectivity and interoperation of each individual component or aspect, it solves the problem.
Thanks to increased connectivity and a higher level of immersion, customers can browse clothes and try them on. A digital avatar with an accurate representation of the user’s height, weight, and other individual features can act as a proxy between an item and a wallet.
Metaverse crypto – a way to pay
All fine and dandy, but people must pay for it somehow. That’s where metaverse crypto comes in. It’s already happening, sort of. Decentraland has its native digital token, called MANA. Fortnite uses V-Bucks, Roblox uses Robux, Call of Duty has COD Points, and Minecraft uses Minecoins. A lot of fragmented currencies that in the future could be replaced by a few major metaverse crypto. Or, in an even further future, even with one.
Grayscale, the Bitcoin Trust, suggested in its late 2021 metaverse report, that metaverse has the potential to become a $1 trillion annual revenue investment occasion. Will people pay with local top metaverse crypto or some version of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is debatable. What’s not, is brand positioning.
Giant traditional banks like Wells Fargo, HSBC, Citibank, and Bank of America have already established their brands in metaverse prototypes. They will probably not open “real” branches in a new virtual world, but who knows? If infrastructure could eliminate or suppress issues like fraud, chargebacks or refunds, it could work.
The evolving nature of payments
But how exactly? Here’s where FinTech comes in. Financial technologies rely on tailored product development and seamless user experiences. The industry will have to find a way to co-exist with already existing metaverse crypto or replace them with unique services. Integrate with the very metaverse meaning – usability. Some cryptocurrencies will survive. Others can be replaced with products and services that are already here.
Can it be another digital transformation of the FinTech industry? Only time will tell.