What is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a shared immersive digital world with digital representations of people, places, and things. It’s made up of a combination of technologies, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and video, where users “live” within a digital universe. The virtual reality in the metaverse is characterised by persistent virtual worlds that continue to exist and evolve even when a user is not playing, while the augmented reality combines the aspects of physical and digital worlds.
We’re constantly interacting with something on the internet, whether it is a game, a news website, or a chat program. The metaverse takes this interaction further by putting users in the middle of the action. As a result, users will have more substantial and more realistic experiences than simply browsing the web or chatting through an application.
In the digital space of the metaverse, everything people do in the real world is replicated. Thus, the metaverse offers freedom and limitless unique experiences for its participants on individual and enterprise levels. Users can work, play, and stay connected with other people within the metaverse. Whether you want to get together with friends and family, attend concerts or conferences, travel the world, play games, attend office meetings, or train new employees, you can perform various activities that you would want to do in the real world.
Additionally, digital space also translates to a digital economy, meaning users can create, sell, and buy goods in the metaverse. From digital lands to digital clothing, you can sell or purchase almost anything you can think of. Those who own land in the metaverse have the freedom to use their land however they want. In most cases, they can use it to create an entirely virtual city using animation and interaction, including virtual properties and other creations. Therefore, users can make almost anything they want, from family homes and skyscrapers to casinos and art galleries. Other monetisation opportunities include hosting events, renting their lands to others, selling Ad space, and more.
Popular Virtual Worlds in the Metaverse
Decentraland is a decentralised virtual world software built on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s the most extensive virtual blockchain world (VBW) that exists today. Users of Decentraland can buy and sell plots of digital land while interacting, exploring, and playing games within its platform. Like in the real world, land on the platform is simply called LAND. There are 90,601 individual plots of digital lands on Decentraland, including 43,689 private land parcels, 33,886 district LAND, 9,438 roads, and 3,588 plazas. Each land in Decentraland is 16X16 metres and is an NFT. Thus, a land trade in Decentraland is an NFT transaction. The lands can be bought using Decentraland’s official cryptocurrency called MANA.
- The Sandbox
The Sandbox is a community-driven virtual world where artists and designers can create, share, and monetise art experiences, gaming experiences, and NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. Sandbox’s virtual real estate, known as LAND, can be developed upon by its owners in various ways. Each LAND is a unique, non-fungible ERC-721 token on the Ethereum blockchain, meaning it’s unique and cannot be duplicated or forged. There are only 166,464 LANDs in the Sandbox metaverse, making them a finite resource. Users can merge a group of adjacent LANDs to form an ESTATE, so owners can have a bigger area to develop upon.
- Somnium Space
Somnium Space is the second-largest VBWs available today. It’s an open, social, and persistent virtual world built on the Ethereum blockchain. The word “persistent” here means that all players are hosted in one vast world due to its hybrid server technology. This essentially means when users go somewhere in that world, they will experience the same thing as anyone else. Additionally, users won’t encounter any loading screen. Somnium Space is by far the most advanced option for those looking for a complete Virtual Reality experience, though it is also available in 2D. There are two prominent locations where users can buy property in Somnium Space: Waterfront and Roadside. Additionally, the land is divided into three sizes: Small, Medium, and Extra Large.
Cryptovoxels is the smallest VBW by land area. However, it’s the only virtual world that is continually expanding, and there’s currently no set limit on how big the world could grow. The original map of Cryptovoxels consists of 3,026 land parcels in a range of shapes and sizes, but it’s expanding with various islands being created periodically. Cryptovoxels consists of the main city, Origin City, where users can find streets (owned by a governing entity or the Corporation) and land parcels that anyone can buy. It’s worth noting that Cryptovoxels is among the most accessible virtual worlds to get started building in. Users don’t need any specified software or hardware to jump right into the virtual world. They can begin building immediately using the world’s user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. Additionally, Cryptovoxels is available in both VR and 2D modes. It’s compatible with a wide range of VR devices.
Upland is a virtual property metaverse offering actual ownership of NFT land parcels mapped to real addresses in the real world. What makes Upland unique is that it aims to create a market-based digital economy that can blur the lines between the digital world and the real world. It’s the first and only blockchain metaverse that offers the ability to recoup the surplus-value of users’ engagement with their metaverse in US dollars. The three main pillars of Upland are business, entertainment, and community. Users can build properties, open virtual businesses, and earn the platform’s native token, UPX coins, or US Dollars by selling NFT-based properties on an open marketplace.
- Axie Infinity
Axie Infinity is a trading and battling game where players can collect, breed, raise, and trade creatures called “Axies,” which are digitised as NFTs. There are various assets in Axie Infinity, with land being one of them. Just like in the real world, land in this virtual world is a scarce asset. Every land in Axie Infinity consists of 64 blocks (8x), and the lands are divided into several categories based on their rarity tiers. These include Savannah, Forest, Arctic, Mystic, Genesis, and Lunas Landing (Center). Each type of land provides special items that players can use in-game. Landowners can monetise their land and even generate passive income.
Why NFTs are the Keys to Accessing the Metaverse?
NFTs and the metaverse have become practically interchangeable. One of the reasons behind this is the proliferation of NFTs in blockchain gaming. Many people believe that the metaverse will materialise through virtual worlds, and among the most apparent vehicles for this is interoperable games. The NFTs allow access to the metaverse in various ways; one of them is tying real-life identities to digital avatars.
Both physical and virtual society needs a functional economy. And in the virtual space of the metaverse, the economy depends on the authentication of digital properties, such as virtual homes, cars, furniture, and clothing. In order to thrive, it also requires the capacity to travel freely and trade between realms with varying laws and rules.
A cryptographic key that cannot be copied, deleted or destroyed secures each NFT. Therefore, it enables authentication of possessions, property, and one’s virtual identity, which is necessary for metaverse society to succeed. With these capabilities, NFTs can serve as the key to a virtual property in the metaverse by giving the owner exclusive access to enter that specific location in the metaverse. The NFT’s smart contract features also make selling virtual properties, including transferring ownership and all associated access, much more straightforward. With this idea in mind, we can use NFT-controlled access in various cases, such as VIP access to events, such as festivals, in both the metaverse and the real world.
Property Ownership: Virtual Real Estate
Users can have full ownership and complete control over their virtual lands and other properties in the metaverse with NFTs. Also, thanks to the underlying blockchain, users are able to prove ownership of their assets and have the freedom to build their virtual land however they want.
There are various ways users can use and monetise their virtual real estate in the metaverse. Some of the most popular ways are selling land for profit, renting land for passive income, hosting social gatherings, and creating various structures like art galleries, arcades, or online shops.
People have also started to host virtual fashion exhibitions and auction their designs as NFTs in their virtual lands. Moreover, virtual land is also attracting musicians worldwide as they can use the space to perform their music and sell NFT tickets and merchandise.
Metaverse Land as a Commodity
The renaming of Facebook to Meta sparked a wave of interest in virtual worlds like Decentraland and Sandbox. Although it might take a little more time for the term metaverse to be pushed into the mainstream, virtual land has already become one of the top commodities in the crypto space. It continues to produce record sales numbers and steadily increase the prices of NFT. Virtual worlds have great potential, and we’re only scratching the surface of the possibilities that the metaverse offers. From building a property on top of your virtual land to actually earning money through advertisements, the possibilities are practically endless.
Today, metaverse events are becoming a common thing in the crypto world. Virtual events in the metaverse allow artists, producers, and brands to show off their work and products to millions of people across the globe. Furthermore, virtual land can also be used as the venue for NFT exhibitions or the setting for a blockchain-based game. Thus, virtual events, virtual land, and the metaverse itself will continue to grow in popularity.
The Future of the Metaverse
Broadly speaking, the metaverse is still in the early stages of its development. However, it already provides a plethora of potential financial and social opportunities through the usage of NFTs. In addition, it offers new ways for people to gather, interact, play, earn, and transact.
Together with NFT blockchain gaming, Metaverses is predicted to be a vital aspect of Web 3.0 by incorporating VR, social networking, video games, and parts of crypto. Web 3.0 is a vision of the internet’s future in which real-world businesses extend into the digital space and users discover the versatility of such environments.