A Brave New World
Think big here for a second. Surely Facebook, the social media platform that took the internet by storm, is big enough? The short answer is, no, it’s not. In fact, in 2021, Facebook changed its household name after years of branding and positioning to ‘Meta’ to lead its next new leap.
Metaverse is a portmanteau for ‘Meta’ and ‘Verse'. ‘Meta’ is of Greek origin, meaning ‘what is beyond’, whilst the latter refers to the Universe. It was first introduced in the dystopian novel Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson in 1992 (a good read too).
Did I bore you with that? Bear with me here because the plot thickens.
When the movie ‘Avatar’ was released in 2009, the idea was that a foot soldier’s consciousness was transferred to another creature. I say that because when preparing for this piece I came across the word ‘Avatar’ more times than I’d like. You probably won’t be travelling to alien worlds and flying on dinosaurs (yet), but it gets pretty close.
But what is it?
Metaverse is, simply put, the existence of oneself in digital space. If we think of the Internet as something that we look at, Metaverse is something that we live in. This comes with an impressive batch of tools like 3D glasses and gloves that give an all too real sensation of what it is to exist virtually.
Just for a moment imagine yourself in the not-too-distant future, being struck with the desire to play a few hands of poker with some old college buddies. You log into Metaverse through a phone or computer and exist as a 3-eyed cookie monster’s avatar in a virtual space of your design.
Poker, of course, is nice and everything but an evolution to the internet carries unlimited possibilities with it that transcend more than just social interactions. It is so big that Facebook and Microsoft were amongst the first to jump on the revolution.
Yes, But Will it Blend?
In an immersive virtual experience, you will be able to drive around in cars, create virtual meetings, exchange goods, and buy digital space. Of course, an avatar needs a stylist and virtual space needs development.
Nike has already begun to sign trademarks for virtual gear, and luxury brand Louis Vuitton started issuing e-shoes and e-bags. As of now, you can cruise in virtual malls and buy an impressive batch of goods.
Is it Bankable?
The possibilities of Metaverse are so immense that in 2021, tokens.com, a Canadian company, bought a virtual property for an unprecedented $2.5M. So why are major players trying to jump on the bandwagon to buy property? Quite simply: supply and demand, in a limited virtual space as demand rises as users join the wave, prices also shoot up.
Now is the time to talk about Non-Fungible Tokens. Every community needs an economy and NFTs are records of digital ownership of that economy. In Metaverse, a user would be able to own their avatar, personal space, and even property; NFTs are proof of that ownership.
For skeptics, Metaverse is moving too fast and for the believers it is not moving fast enough. One thing is for sure: with advancements in 5G and humongous investments from many big players, Metaverse marches on. Although critics of Metaverse are concerned about mental and physical health, security, and social repercussions, it is expected to reach $800BN in 2024 and a staggering 1 billion users by 2030.