A year later, what about the metaverse?

The future of the metaverse seems uncertain. According to Google Trends, interest in the virtual world reached an all-time high in January. However, interest in the term fell in the second quarter of this year and has since declined.

With billions of dollars invested in this industry, BeInCrypto wondered where it was going now and where we stand after a year of market scandals and hype surrounding the metaverse.

The term “metaverse” first appeared in 1992 in the novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. Originally, it was a science fiction term to describe a virtual reality in which users could escape the dystopian real world. Since then, the term has gone from fiction to reality.

However, early reports of Metaverse adoption have been mixed. Indeed, an article from CoinDesk (based on data from DappRadar) had reported that only 38 “active users” were present on Decentraland in 24 hours. The sandbox it would have counted 522 users at the same time.

Then the metaverse platforms fought back. In particular, they noted that DappRadar’s figures only include the interaction between the unique wallet address and each platform’s smart contract. Thus, this data will not include users who do not use their game token. Indeed, many only use the metaverse as a social platform.

So what is the real situation?

The concept of a metaverse built on blockchain is far from representing the settled future of interactive media. Indeed, according to experts, it is not guaranteed to become the dominant medium, with AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) competing for the attention of technologists, futurists and academics.

Would blockchain then be a necessity for the future of the metaverse?

Nils Pihl, co-founder and CEO of Auki Labs, a company specializing in virtual reality and augmented reality, believes that the question of whether cryptocurrencies are central to the metaverse rests largely on its definition. “If you’ve defined the metaverse as a spatial version of the internet where identity and ownership are managed by the blockchain, then clearly this is essential. However, it seems like a cheap trick.”

“If blockchain had never been invented, metaverses could (and would) be envisioned and built the same way. Neal Stephenson coined the term long before blockchain was even a concept, and he was far from the only visionary to describe this kind of cyber future.

As for the lull in interest in the sector, he said: “The hype was about people hoping to make a profit, not populating these virtual worlds. Everyone had bet that someone else would be interested. You have to create something that people want to use, not something that people hope to sell.”

A mixed view for the metaverse

Last week, the layoffs of more than 11,000 Meta employees set off alarm bells in the tech industry. With the pre-existing and widespread skepticism of the metaverse, people are once again questioning the viability of an economic model based on a still ill-defined concept.

For others, the concept of “true ownership” remains a key reason for a blockchain-based virtual world.

“Knowing that our digital lives are increasingly part of who we are as individuals, true ownership of digital assets will be critical to the long-term success of any metaverse,” said John Burris, director of strategy for VCOIN at IMVU. “Blockchain technology creates real ownership”.

On a collective level, we’re only in the early days of the metaverse, and over time, I think we’ll see the industry gain traction… When the shift happens, we can all relate. Meanwhile, we and other innovators in Web3 We will continue to build the infrastructure necessary to provide users with a robust and dynamic experience.”

“Most of the entrepreneurs and innovators we regularly interact with do not rely on Meta to move this space forward. While Meta’s struggles are unfortunate, they’re unlikely to stop Web3 builders from moving forward.

And what do the polls say?

While competing designs remain, an October 2022 Sitecore survey of metaverse “enthusiasts” revealed strong interest in many aspects of these new digital worlds. These include new experiences, as well as the ability to escape from reality, online festivals and concerts, meeting new people and virtual testing of new products and services.

That said, this is a survey of enthusiasts. And many of these user experiences are intrinsically tied to the definition of a metaverse. However, there are still hurdles to overcome.

A previous study of the general public by Wunderman Thompson Intelligence also displayed similar enthusiasm; That said, it also showed that only 15% of respondents “knew what the metaverse was and could explain it to someone else.” This is a very worrying percentage for the sector.

A survey conducted in November by TELUS International for its part found that 65% of respondents thought the metaverse would be “mainstream“within five years. Most importantly for businesses, respondents said they would pay 5% more for a product or service supported by a quality metaverse experience. Similarly, nearly a quarter of respondents said they would spend up to 10% more.

It is not certain that the results of this survey truly reflect reality. However, by many indications, enthusiasm for the metaverse remains when the question is asked. Whether this will translate into actual use is another question.

Future trends

However, there are positives for the future. The Gartner firm identified six trends that will drive the use of metaverses over the next three to five years. These include metaverse games, for which Gartner predicts 25% growth.

These trends also include “spatial computing,” which digitally enhances real objects and landscapes by adding invisible information.

In turn, to preserve its natural heritage, The state of Tuvalu plans to charge his entire place in the metaverse. Its foreign minister, Simon Kofe, said: “As our lands disappear, we have no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation.”

One thing is clear: we still need to clarify what the metaverse is and how exactly it will work. For Web3 natives and proponents of decentralization, blockchain will often play a vital role. Whether this dream comes true or not remains to be seen.

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