A complex fight for control of a future world is unfolding that few comprehend but might affect our lives in the coming years. While the early metaverse can seem confusing or even foolish to a visitor for the first time, significant investments and new technology are suddenly making a far more advanced version accessible. We must now address the crucial question of who will be in charge. Will companies own the metaverse, or will it be open and decentralized like the infrastructure of the Internet?
The term “metaverse,” which is now more of an idea than an actual location, refers to a large, immersive digital universe that is inextricably linked to the real world. While the gaming industry has made innovations, the metaverse is poised to have an impact on a wide range of aspects of our life.
We learnt how to socialize, work, learn, exercise, and play through screens as the COVID-19 pandemic forced individuals of all generations to blur the barriers between online and “real” life. This change set the stage for the metaverse to more easily entwine itself into our daily lives. When we break free from screens, this will accelerate. While the early metaverse is a shared virtual world we visit, augmented and virtual reality technology will eventually allow us to access it as we go about our daily lives. The competition to rule our new digital frontier has intensified in this context.
While the early metaverse is a shared virtual world we visit, augmented and virtual reality technology will eventually allow us to access it as we go about our daily lives. The competition to rule our new digital frontier has intensified in this context.
Battle Lines Have Been Drawn
Companies like Facebook, which want to control our access to the metaverse and the revenue it generates, are on one side. This is similar to how they did with the present web. Pioneers working for an open architecture that accepts a wide ecosystem of builders and is regulated by the community as a whole are on the other side. These newcomers, armed with cutting-edge technology like blockchains, are battling for a decentralized and interoperable metaverse where people may truly own digital assets and value is shared by everyone who is contributing to the network.
Established companies are using a vast arsenal in their effort to rule the metaverse. Tech giants like Microsoft and Roblox believe that the metaverse will be the next hub for commerce and social interaction. And where people congregate, money can be produced. With the aim of having the metaverse reach one billion users and generating hundreds of billions of dollars in digital commerce by the end of the decade, Mark Zuckerberg has proclaimed that Facebook will become a metaverse corporation, not a social media company, in the next five years. Even the company’s makeover is expected to emphasize the metaverse.
Tech giants like Microsoft and Roblox believe that the metaverse will be the next hub for commerce and social interaction. And where people congregate, money can be produced.
Travels into the early metaverse run the risk of making the outsider write it off as a toy. Working together in a group can feel a bit ludicrous. Avatars move jerkily when they walk. It’s simple to become lost. Unexpected digital art can appear on a conference stage.
Deep Implications from Early Metaverse Work
But it’s crucial to comprehend the consequences of this early work given its potential to shape our future. Two worldwide metaverse festivals occurred concurrently, providing a window into the opposing camps in the current struggle for power. One was built by a well-known gamer, the other by a forerunner in the decentralized metaverse. In collaboration with music event producer Insomniac, Roblox, a publicly traded business with 2020 sales of $924 million, hosted the first virtual music festival on the Roblox platform. The first Metaverse Festival was hosted concurrently in Decentraland, an open virtual environment that is entirely owned by its users.
Both occasions provided us a taste of how digital technology can improve the event-going experience, how live performance can be seamlessly incorporated, how exclusive experiences can be weaved in, and how we can now assemble regardless of where we live on a global scale. However, they also provided us with a preview of the upcoming trade-offs.
The Roblox experience was top-notch, featuring high-end corporate digital experience design. The virtual experience provided games, virtual tents, and artist meet-and-greets in addition to integrating the live stages and outstanding lineup from the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in Las Vegas.
With performances by more than 80 artists, including Deadmau5, a merchandise area for NFT wearables, and even digital portable toilets, Decentraland’s festival was thoughtfully planned and organized. The Decentraland festival felt more organic and unproduced, like the community endeavor it was.
The most startling aspect of Decentraland, though, was what took place behind the scenes. People can directly own and cultivate digital land in this universe. They can immediately transact business with other players. And through a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), its users control policies independently rather than relying on a corporation to run the globe.
It’s important to look deeper than the obvious answers when deciding what kind of digital environment we wish to inhabit. Large digital businesses excel at creating highly engaging user experiences, but doing so at the expense of our data and control. Blockchains and tokens provide peer-to-peer value exchange, direct ownership of digital assets, and community governance, but the market is still developing and the user experience is still quite difficult.
We are facing the turning point that will determine how the metaverse will function ultimately, much before we reach a genuinely immersive metaverse. Will a select few companies set the rules, or will we find a way for society to come together and build a thriving metaverse that is managed and governed by its users?