Web 3.0 and metaverse have been buzzwords worldwide over the last few years. Why? They’re set to disrupt— and some believe they’re already fully disrupting—the technological world, making the once impossible possible.
Everything from addressing healthcare concerns and remote work challenges to enjoying fully immersive shopping experiences, virtual tours, and monetization benefits are just some of the uses that the metaverse is expected to offer in the not-so-distant future.
While countless metaverse Proof of Concepts (PoCs), hypotheticals, and ‘coming-soons’ are being added to the pipeline for nearly every industry on the global market, the number of successful metaverse technologies actually realized into existence is significantly fewer.
So, the big question remains, is the metaverse already here?
There’s no right or wrong answer. It depends on how the metaverse is defined by whoever you’re asking. If you ask five different experts how they define the metaverse, chances are, you’ll get five different answers.
On one hand, some say that the metaverse has already been around for a long time since the days of multiplayer online games and social virtual worlds such as VRChat existed. It’s important to note that millions of people worldwide already live, play, socialize, and shop in these virtual environments, so to them, the metaverse is 100% already here. However, others argue that only when seamless travel between different virtual worlds and experiences is enabled, will we truly live in the era of the metaverse.
If the metaverse has been here all along, then how did we get to this metaverse oasis?
For argument’s sake, let’s say that an early beta version of the metaverse is here. The metaverse of the future is still being defined and refined over time by different companies and opinion leaders, and most importantly by users, which makes future-gazing an ever-changing ideology.
While Facebook’s 2021 Meta rebrand sparked a domino effect of companies worldwide investing in or developing their own metaverse concepts, overall, the technology is still in its infancy. Mark Zuckerburg, CEO of Meta, estimates that it could take five to 10 years before the key features of the metaverse become mainstream. In a nutshell, this will be the moment when most people, even your grandparents, will be aware of and actively using metaverse technologies like they use Facebook today.
A Slowly Maturing Technology
The metaverse is still evolving. As with any new innovative technology, it’s going through cycles and iterations but is increasing in maturity every day.
Perhaps more importantly, how we use the metaverse today will significantly define how it will eventually look in the future. While we see that more and more metaverse companies and platforms are emerging, we still don’t have enough data to predict what they will look like and what experiences they will deliver to their users.
One thing is for sure, we can compare this initial state of the metaverse with the early days of Web 2.0. For example, we didn’t know what it would look like until the technologies and common protocols were established that connect all the applications and web pages on the internet. The same can certainly be said for the metaverse and Web 3.0. The world is simply exploring this wonderland and shaping the future of what the metaverse will become.
What makes us especially excited about the metaverse is the opportunity to create a user-owned and fair virtual society via Web 3.0. The verification of digital asset ownership, like NFTs for example, is a game-changer — it’s one of the essential building blocks associated with creating a decentralized economy and commerce in the metaverse.
If you’re excited to be an early contributor to the evolving technology and create the future together, then join our movement!
At SPACE Metaverse, we are on the way to becoming one of the top social commerce metaverse platforms. Our core philosophy is that the metaverse should be built and owned by its users, or as we like to call them, SPACE citizens. This allows SPACE citizens to experience a truly immersive 3D world, interact and collaborate with others, build businesses, find work, and earn through contributions to the ecosystem. Every citizen can create content and experiences, such as shops, events, practices, or galleries with our intuitive Web3-commerce and no-code 3D builder tools.
If you ask the average person what they think the metaverse is, they’ll likely refer to it as a product of Facebook. While Meta (formerly known as Facebook) certainly gave metaverse technology a boost and helped instill greater trust in it, it’s by no means the only metaverse available.
Meta knew this from the start, and while Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs, has stated the many benefits of the metaverse, he also notes that Meta will not be the sole provider of the digital environment. Meta’s goal isn’t to have a monopoly on the metaverse, but instead to make the digital space a more open, inclusive, and interoperable environment, which isn’t developed by just one or two tech giants but by a mix of public and private initiatives, where everyone has a say.
Think of the metaverse a bit like the internet — it’s not owned by a single entity; it’s a place where everybody contributes, gets involved, and has the ability to create their own worlds.
While this is true, there will undoubtedly be key players in the game. This is a good thing as it drives traffic, but there will also inevitably be niche metaverses for specific use cases — think marketplace players like Amazon and Etsy — and individual luxury clothing brands. They’ll all have their own individual metaverse environments where people can browse, socialize and shop virtually.
Because of the open nature of most metaverses — the majority of platforms and systems are based on open-sourced code, meaning anybody and everybody can take part in the development of it — there will always be alternatives to the biggest metaverse groups. Think of it like the early days of the industrial revolution where people set up extremely niche shops that specialized in one thing, such as shoes. This particular use case only works for certain niches, though.
Some metaverses will need to become a one-stop-shop for everything to gain a hold on the ever-expanding market share and ensure success. Think about Amazon (first-selling books) and how they sell most everything you could possibly need, from both their own brand and others.
The metaverse itself is a concept that can be implemented by centralized or decentralized agents. Ideally, the metaverse will be decentralized and, as a result, allow people to carry their possessions from one platform to another seamlessly.
In turn, this can prevent a single power from becoming a monopoly in this space and actually encourages cooperation. The way the monopoly might happen is not from a lack of diversified projects but more through the use of only one service in most cases. While Meta will undoubtedly be a leading player in years to come, it is in the users’ hands to choose which platform serves them best. This is the case with each metaverse company that addresses the needs of its users.
It’s exciting to think that nobody has any idea how many pieces of the virtual puzzle there will be up for grabs, and who will have the most pieces — it’s currently a huge guessing game. However, the most important question that we must ask is how those pieces will fit together and how we’ll align our efforts to ensure a united vision of the metaverse.
To accelerate the evolution of a decentralized metaverse, SPACE Metaverse recently initiated the Open Metaverse Alliance (OMA3). The OMA3 alliance brings together metaverse companies around the globe to create interoperability standards and other initiatives that will assure continued diversity across the space and prevent monopolies from taking hold.
The possibilities that the metaverse offers and plans to offer in the not-so-distant future are astounding. It can be a virtual retail shop, advertising channel, digital classroom, and employee training tool — and ultimately, a gateway to a whole new online environment full of virtual experiences. And these are just some examples of the potential that we can forecast today. So what about in five or 10 years?
While many of us are already on the edge of our seats waiting to see the next big use case for the metaverse, not everybody holds the same opinion. Creating value in a virtual world continues to be a significant challenge for organizations looking to develop or invest in the metaverse, and many people are skeptical. Why? The metaverse is continuously being defined and redefined. This makes it increasingly hard to fully comprehend it and often leaves the lasting impression that what the metaverse is and can do now is and will continue to be in the future. This simply isn’t true.
Most initiatives are not fully realized or are being widely adopted. This is not a new phenomenon; every piece of world-changing technology goes through these cycles. American Entrepreneur Marc Andreessen recently made a great comparison on the Bankless podcast. He likened the heavy critique of the metaverse today to the first laptop that hit the market, which weighed 43 pounds. Everybody thought that the technology would flop because who wants to have that weight sitting on their lap? Andreessen said,
“There are all the critics arguing against the reality of what you have today, and in a lot of cases, they’re actually right. But the fact that they’re right is totally beside the point. What they’re not understanding is the potential.”
If initiatives were fully solved and widely adopted on a global scale — you wouldn’t need to be convinced about their utility and real-world value; you would be using them. Let’s focus on understanding the potential and how to make the digital ecosystem a reality.
Making Way for a Truly Digital World
The world is increasingly becoming more and more digitalized, and that direction is firmly set. The metaverse will only enhance the experiences within it. It will be a new social medium populated with real human beings (and AIs that will mingle among us in these virtual environments). These will interact as avatars, playing, working, and learning together, buying and selling digital and physical items, and much more. While these interactions take place in a virtual or augmented reality, the experiences are still real, and any human experience ultimately has real-life implications.
The metaverse will also be a significant driver for people to earn online. Entirely new professions, job opportunities, and ways of working will be created that we can’t even imagine yet, offering people all around the world the possibility to generate income, create new businesses, and offer new services online. Furthermore, the metaverse will not only connect online players digitally but also reward them physically through payment via play to earn initiatives. There will be communities of users and new opportunities emerging that generate real-world value and utility to digital assets sold as NFTs within the metaverse itself.
Shopping is another great example. In the real world, many choose to shop together with family and friends, whereas in the 2D world of online shopping, the experience is a solitary one. The metaverse promises to make the online shopping experience as social as the real thing. It’s already a fast-growing marketplace of the future, and companies are leveraging their brands by establishing their presence within the metaverse.
Much like in the real world, brands can create their own virtual shops or open stores in virtual malls to sell digital assets (as NFTs), physical products, and phygitals (physical plus digital) in the metaverse. Those that provide their customers with new brand experiences in the metaverse are perceived as innovative and are gaining competitive advantage. In a recent TechRepublic interview, CEO of Showpad, Hendrik Isebaert, said:
“The future of customer experience will be all about improvements to extended reality tools that will further enhance the human aspect of the buying journey and streamline the overall buying process.”
As more users join the metaverse, and more companies build their own platforms, it stands to reason that it will become a massive commerce platform. For a preview of what the future of shopping in the metaverse may look like, visit some of the virtual shops in SPACE: Soho Ski Club, Metakicks, LOAK, and many more.
Still not convinced about the real-world value and potential that the metaverse holds for the future? Watch this clip from 1995 of Bill Gates convincing David Letterman that the internet will be useful. The question about whether the metaverse has any real-world value will become as obsolete as the doubts about the usefulness of the internet and the laptop. In the end, it is a tool, and how we use this tool will define its true value.