Coming from the Greek word meta, which means after or beyond, the Metaverse is the theorized and prophesied next big step in the process of digitization.
In a few words, the Metaverse is a more immersive and embodied digital world than the one we currently live in.
As exciting as this might sound, important decisions need to be taken and processes need to happen to shape exactly how this digital universe will come about. The building blocks, however, might already be here, and will inevitably serve as a powerful catalyst for the Metaverse to come to fruition.
Introduction to the Metaverse
The concept of a Metaverse as a pseudo successor of the Internet likely has its roots in the tech community going back to the tail end of the 20th century. Naturally, it can also be linked to science fiction where it is often portrayed as a digital manifestation of reality in a virtual world.
Either way, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to assume that the Metaverse is the next big thing in the ever-so-digital world we live in and will very much revolutionize how we interact with technology and between ourselves. And while this all seems quite fantastical, the pieces upon which the Metaverse might be built already exist.
The Metaverse has been described as a persistent, live digital universe that affords individuals a sense of agency, social presence, and shared spatial awareness, along with the ability to participate in an extensive virtual economy with profound societal impact. Indeed, it has become a goal for many of the world’s big tech giants most recently being a key driver behind Facebook’s rebranding to Meta. Some of the key traits of the Metaverse have been succinctly articulated as:
- Being scalable, persistent, and hardware agnostic
- Being a fully functional economy where individuals and businesses can co-exist and produce value
- Being interoperable
- Spanning across the digital and physical worlds and having a wide array of contributors and experiences
If we agree on the characteristics above, we still inevitably arrive at the next question which is how the Metaverse would come about. Will it be built by a single entity (e.g. Facebook)? Or would it be a decentralized enterprise? Who will manage it? Is it a one-stopshop or would it be a mesh of different ecosystems communicating with each other?
A strong argument can be made that the Metaverse will need to emerge on a decentralized platform built upon community-based standards in an open-source manner (think the open web).
Luckily, there are already powerful technologies in place that can be leveraged to make the Metaverse a reality
How does crypto fit in?
Blockchain and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) could be among the tools required to build the Metaverse and they are already here.
The end vision for the Metaverse, although still subject to debate, is that it will provide access to an augmented reality experience that provides exciting new opportunities. The question that pops up immediately, however, is where and how all the required data will be stored, secured, and protected. Blockchain technologies might offer an elegant solution to this.
Blockchain is immutable. This means that it is less likely to suffer from hacker attacks. This is extremely important if the virtual reality platform wants to achieve maximum adoption. Transactions on the blockchain are confirmed instantaneously and are cryptographically secured and protected. This essentially kills two birds with one stone since it achieves speed and comfort allowing users to transact and interact as if in-person
The importance of having a payment method that is secure, traceable, and transparent cannot be overstated and will be crucial for the Metaverse to flourish. Critics might point out the inherent price volatility of crypto assets but the rise of stablecoins and CBDCs (central bank digital currencies) could alleviate some of these concerns.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of having blockchain as the backbone of the Metaverse is the decentralized nature of this technology. Using blockchain can keep coercive political forces at bay and reduce the ability to censor and abuse users.
Nowadays it’s rare that we actually own anything on the Internet. From licensing eBooks to renting music, even creating our own content does not necessarily mean that it is owned by us. Instead, it could be owned by the relevant platform, label, or distributor.
NFTs look to address this issue. We have seen an explosion of digital art, collectibles, in-game assets, and other use cases for these tokens. As the industry evolves it is becoming clear that a wide range of online digital content can be placed on blockchain in the form of NFTs. The Metaverse is already being populated with 3D models for augmented and virtual reality.
Blockchain-based NFTs allow for true ownership of virtual assets. If we accept that the Metaverse is striving to complement, and even enhance reality in a digital setting, participants will need to have a sense of possession of their digital goods. NFTs, being fundamentally unique and scarce, can provide a universally accepted digital representation of things allowing the Metaverse economy to flourish.
NFTs and crypto are also changing the gaming scene, one of the latest examples being Axie Infinity, a blockchain-based digital pet game where players can interact, trade, and even build virtual real estate. Its explosive growth shows the power of these technologies and is a testament to the importance of decentralization in the eyes of a significant portion of modern gamers.
Looking beyond gaming, more and more content is being tokenized as NFTs, including tweets, blogs, and music. As the online and the real world continue to bleed into one, digital items are becoming more tangible in a sense – each of them is unique with its creator, owner, and history.
Undoubtedly, we still have a ways to go but NFTs and blockchain could be the key enablers that breathe life into the Metaverse and pave the road to mass adoption. These technologies seamlessly address the issues of digital scarcity, digital property rights, scalability, and enable a robust ecosystem that is less susceptible to exploitation. It is hard to imagine a digital reality that is not built on these strong fundamentals.
What does this all mean for me?
Whilst it’s still early to predict whether the Metaverse will be the successful and fantastical digital world imagined by techies and science fiction authors alike, it seems safe to assume that it will likely produce immense value as a new platform and an environment for content creation. Falling short of being the next big thing does not mean that it will not pave the way to exciting new developments.
As already mentioned, the Metaverse shares important characteristics with the Internet of today, including the lack of a single owner. Nevertheless, Internet-based companies take the lion’s share of market value today. If the Metaverse is indeed a successor to the Internet, it is likely to have an even wider reach and economic upside.
The Metaverse could very well alter the way we live our lives which are already becoming increasingly digital. Individuals are more likely to be able to participate in the economy without having to live in big cities or go to the office. Spending could shift to virtual services, goods, and experiences. The Metaverse could open the door to much more diverse labor opportunities and provide people with a sense of ownership and control.<
From an investor perspective, the Metaverse is likely to provide alternatives to traditional equity investments and a shift toward protocols and project tokens.
And for entrepreneurs, these new tools will facilitate innovation and allow for creative solutions to the problems of tomorrow.
The way to a new Meta
In the short term, the Metaverse will probably be driven predominantly by speculation. As technologies evolve and adoption rises, however, this digital world can truly start to take shape and change the way we experience reality.
Our world is undoubtedly becoming more digital. The pandemic has certainly played its role as a catalyst for trends that were already emerging. For better or for worse people are becoming closer from a digital perspective and the ability to interact online is crucial in our everyday lives. From working remotely to owning digital real estate, the possibilities are endless for what the Metaverse could facilitate. Virtual reality and shared spatial awareness are likely to play a big part in this new world and in the not-so-distant future everyone might have the option to live, play and work in the Metaverse.
With the speed of digitization increasing due to the pandemic combined with the mass-market acceptance of crypto, it’s safe to say that we are past the inflection point of these important changes. The final shape and texture of this new world, however, remains to be determined.
To facilitate a fully functional and immersive digital ecosystem a strong case can be made that blockchain, crypto, and NFTs should play a prominent role. When it comes to carrying out transactions, interacting with each other, and creating content, the benefits of these technologies are evident. Ultimately, the Metaverse might take the spotlight but blockchain and cryptoassets are likely key components to allowing this alternate reality to reach its full potential.
How is Scaleswap contributing to the Metaverse?
Here at Scaleswap, we are fully committed on embracing the Metaverse and have already supported several launches on our platform.
Arcade Network, launched on Scaleswap on December 2nd 2021, is the world’s first decentralised platform providing cross metaverse asset interoperability. Making use of Blockchain technology NFTs, Arcade Network creates a unified relayer bridge that enables seamless movement of in-game assets.
CapsCoin, an NFT gaming platform, is another upcoming launch on Scaleswap. CAPS is a unique crypto asset based on NFTs that allows users to convert their NFTs and use them across different games in the Metaverse. CapsCoin allows developers to integrate their games into the platform enabling a truly immersive cross-game experience. Players can then collect CAPS, earn tokens and compete with other players inside the Metaverse.
Stay tuned for other Metaverse launches on our platform!