The metaverse; could it be the future of digital ecosystems? Much has been said about this relatively new concept but there is yet to be a consensus on its underlying potential. Some believe it could define tomorrow’s digital world while others think it is just another hyped technological experiment. Surprisingly, the metaverse is not as new as most people tout it, the concept was first introduced in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel, Snow Crash.
Now three decades down the line, it has become one of the most discussed topics in tech innovation. Big banks such as Citi and JP Morgan have recently predicted that the metaverse economy could hit over $10 trillion by 2030. That said, skeptics like Dan Olson (a well known content producer), are of a contrary opinion. The youtuber recently published a documentary dubbed ‘Line Goes Up’ where he outlines several problems with NFTs.
According to Olson, NFTs, which are essentially the building blocks of the metaverse, are pointless in their current state. He argues that most of the existing NFTs do not work as advertised. This nascent niche has also received a fair share of backlash from traditional finance moguls, including Warren Buffet and Peter Schiff. Both figures have always opined that crypto is a mere ‘speculation’ market that will likely follow the tulips bubble trend.
While some of these arguments might hold water, it is worth noting that crypto has long evolved from the days when ‘gambling’ was the main narrative. Innovations in Decentralized Finance (DeFi), Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the metaverse have completely changed the game in recent years. For this article, we will stick to the metaverse; are the critics right or simply conservative in accepting new technologies?
“We believe the Metaverse is the next generation of the internet — combining the physical and digital world in a persistent and immersive manner — and not purely a Virtual Reality world. A device-agnostic Metaverse accessible via PCs, game consoles, and smartphones could result in a very large ecosystem.” read a report by CitiBank.
It Is Just the Start …
Like the early days of the internet, most of the ongoing development in the metaverse has been in the experimental stages. One can trace its beginnings back to when NFTs started gaining popularity in 2021. At the time, crypto natives were excited about this new form of ‘digital art’ which could be sold in decentralized markets such as Opensea and Rarity. More importantly, NFTs presented an opportunity for artists to record and authenticate their work on-chain.
Today, it is not just about NFT art, we have digital collectibles that can be used as in-game items, an ecosystem that has grown into billions of dollars. But perhaps the most fundamental intersection is between NFTs and the metaverse. In recent months, there has been a surge in upcoming digital worlds, with notable mentions such as Decentraland and The Sandbox taking an early lead.
Owning virtual land is longer an imagination; some investors are paying top dollar to acquire high end properties in Decentraland and The Sandbox. In one instance, a crypto collector forked out $450,000 for a plot next to Snoop Dogg’s property on The Sandbox. According to DApp Radar, metaverse land sales hit a record of $100 million in 2021, although the activity has since dropped due to macro uncertainties.
On the brighter side, the bear market has given rise to innovative solutions such as the one pioneered by Looking Glass Labs (LGL). This Web 3.0 platform specializes in the development of NFTs, metaverse environments and play-to-earn models, making it easier for both individuals and businesses to navigate the ecosystem.
As it stands, LGL’s leading brand House of Kibaa (HoK) has already released its flagship NFT collection ‘GenZeroes’, which sold out for a total of 6.2 million CAD. They also recently announced an NFT airdrop mint where a total of 9,000 rare card parks were distributed to existing Gen X and HoK Genesis NFT holders.
With the metaverse gradually coming of age, more stakeholders are taking a keen interest in the developments. The game has shifted from being a crypto-dominated market to a combination of retail and institutional users. For example, luxury brands such as Gucci, Adidas and Nike have all set up virtual shop in the metaverse. Meanwhile, the likes of Meta and Microsoft are making strategic moves to be part of the digital world.
“When we talk about the metaverse, we’re describing both a new platform and a new application type, similar to how we talked about the web and websites in the early ’90s,” noted Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella in a keynote address.
We live in an interesting era, communication has shifted to digital platforms, especially after covid-19 struck in 2020. While some people may not like the idea, it is quite evident that the next phase of human interactions will mainly be conducted through digital ecosystems. To this end, we have seen applications such as Zoom and Google meets increase their market within a short period.
What if digital interactions could be made more real through Virtual and Augmented Reality? Well, the metaverse is doing exactly that. According to Mark Zuckerberg, digital worlds are the future of business operations and social ecosystems. The CEO of Meta also noted that the metaverse will not be built by one company but through a collaborative effort,
“The metaverse will not be created by one company. It will be built by creators and developers making new experiences and digital items that are interoperable and unlock a massively larger creative economy than the one constrained by today’s platforms and their policies.”
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