The ultimate metaverse is the digital version of our real world. Everyone has a 3D avatar, a digital plot of land with a house, and the highest bidder gets to put up the most annoying banner ad.
Depending on how you feel about it, the metaverse can be a utopia, but also a dystopia. That conclusion can most likely only be drawn in a few years, because by now most of the metaverses look like a video game on the Nintendo Wii, and everyone is after your money.
Still, you shouldn’t judge the beast by what it can do now, but by its potential. This is why many investors are pumping money into the metaverse.
What is a metaverse?
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, defines the metaverse as the convergence of the digital and physical worlds, where an entirely new platform layer is created. By bringing together hardware, digital information, content, payments, extended reality (an umbrella term for virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality), and other technologies, the metaverse creates an entirely new virtual environment.
After Microsoft shared its acquisition of gaming company Activision with the world, Nadella tweeted:
Different companies work on their own metaverse, but in an ideal world, there is one dominant metaverse, or the different metaverses may be interconnected.
A metaverse has a digital economy, where users can create, buy, and sell goods. And, in the most idealistic visions of the metaverse, it’s interoperable, allowing you to move virtual items like clothes or cars from one metaverse to another.
In the real world, you can buy pants in a mall in Germany and then wear them to the market in the Netherlands.
Infinite computing power required
If a world-dominant platform layer were drawn, and we all decided that’s the metaverse, it would take a lot of computing power to keep it running.
A well-functioning metaverse will constantly require the most computing power that has ever existed (thereby silencing the debate around bitcoin’s power consumption). Entire economies, game engines, simulated environments, spatial computing, holographic displays, and extended reality experiences will have to be displayed simultaneously for millions or billions of users.
Just rendering the graphics takes forever or a huge amount of computing power. By comparison, Axel makes a YouTube video every day about the latest crypto news, these videos are a little over 15 minutes long and contain hardly any special effects or edits (kudos to Axel), but they take hours to play.
With some Pixar movies, rendering 1 pixel takes tens of hours. And to think that in an ultimate metaverse, an entire digital world must be constantly rendered, so that billions of people can participate live.
Sandbox takes the lead
Perhaps that’s also why the current iterations of a metaverse still look so primitive in terms of graphic splendor. A good example of this is The Sandbox. The gaming world isn’t very pretty (yet), but investors are lining up to pour money into it.
This week, 25 islands were sold in The Sandbox metaverse on the Exclusible NFT market. These raised around 2.5 million euros. Buyers include eToro, Paris Saint-Germain footballer Marco Verratti and Bayern Munich footballer Kingsley Coman.
Promote businesses in The Sandbox
In the virtual world of The Sandbox, players can own and trade LAND. These are parts of the map that are divided into smaller NFTs. Once you own LAND, you can do whatever you want with it. Think about creating and sharing content, creating experiences, building houses for parties, and in the case of businesses: promoting a brand.
There are currently more than 200 companies and celebrities who have purchased LAND. Think of the zombie series The Walking Dead, the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, sports brand Adidas, and rapper Snoop Dogg.
Sebastien Borget, the CEO of The Sandbox, hopes that everything will revolve around NFTs in The Sandbox.
“We have… literally a hundred NFT-based communities, including Bored Ape, World of Women, Guild of Guardians, Rumble Kongs. So we feel that the Sandbox is really a space for creativity, a space where NFTs can come to life, because as an open metaverse we allow any NFT to be displayed, played, and even converted from a 2D image to a 3D avatar that you can play with. .”
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More moderation is needed
However, there is also a downside to the metaverse, and they discovered it in South Korea. Back in the 90’s when the internet was unregulated there were a lot of chat boxes and forums without any moderation. This made it possible for children and teenagers to be bullied by perverts.
That seems to be happening in the metaverse now. “Sexually harassing comments or conversations are common. You can easily spot them in the metaverse,” said Jung Hee-jin of Tacten Naeil, a youth sexual violence counseling center in South Korea.
She continues: “Until now, the industry has been ineffective at policing itself. The penalties imposed on users for violations of the metaverse are limited to blocking or removing their accounts from a platform.
Jung believes that there is a need for the various metaverse platforms to more closely monitor and develop technologies to prevent such violations. She says that the police often don’t know what to do with reports, also because users come from all over the world in the metaverse.