We could call 2021 the year of the metaverse. In the last months of this year, the media was full of the metaverse. This was mainly due to the announcement of Facebook, which would change its name to Meta in order to be able to fully bet on the metaverse.
The metaverse is very interesting. It offers many possibilities and opportunities. The list of benefits seems to be almost endless. At the same time, it also brings various dangers and drawbacks. It is important to be aware of these dangers so that you can paint a realistic picture of the metaverse.
We’ll tell you more about what the metaverse is before we dive deeper into its benefits. Then we’ll tell you what we and other people think are the biggest dangers. We close the article by telling you what the three most important metaverse cryptocurrencies of the moment are.
- 1 What is the metaverse?
- 2 Where is the metaverse used?
- 3 How and when was the metaverse conceived?
- 4 What are the benefits of the metaverse?
- 5 What are the dangers of the metaverse?
- 6 What can be done about these dangers?
- 7 What are the major blockchain metaverse projects?
- 8 Conclusion
What is the metaverse?
Technically, the metaverse is a shared virtual collective space created by the mix of a virtual augmented physical reality and a physical virtual space. The metaverse is thus the amalgamation of the physical world with virtual worlds, augmented reality and the internet.
The metaverse is a concept where digital worlds are created that can be inhabited by several people at the same time. The metaversion, of course, refers to a variety of virtual experiences, environments and goods that have gained momentum during the shift from the pandemic to everything online.
Where is the metaverse used?
As for the metaverse, many companies are already working to bring this technology to fruition. Companies like Apple, Google, Samsung, The Walt Disney Corporation, Nintendo, Atari, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Epic Games all use metaverse technology.
It is striking that video games such as Roblox, Fortnite and Animal Crossing, in which players can build their own worlds, show metaverse tendencies, as do most social media. If you own a non-fungible token (NFT) or even just a crypto, you are also part of the metaverse.
Virtual reality and augmented reality are important parts of the metaverse. If you’ve ever attended a business meeting or a party with a digital avatar, you’ve also come close to the metaverse. Many founders, investors, futurists and executives have all tried to find their way around it.
How and when was the metaverse conceived?
Like many technological innovations, the idea of a metaverse has come a long way before we even heard of Silicon Valley. The term first appeared in a science fiction novel, The Virtual Samurai, published by American author Neal Stephenson in 1992, in which each individual can connect through special glasses to this three-dimensional universe where virtual actions affect the real world.
Other productions, such as the films Tron (1982), Matrix (1999) or Ready Player One (2018) also explore digital universes in which fiction is worth as much, if not more, than reality.
At the end of July 2021, the realization of this old dream was given a boost: Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, told The Verge that the company was embarking on a multi-billion dollar plan to build a universe that will enable people to communicate with their loved ones, access have to office life and entertainment.
The contours of the metaverse thus become clearer. It is the fusion of a virtual universe with functionalities that are firmly anchored in reality.
In an essay published in January 2020, investor Matthew Ball outlines the framework for the metaverse as it could come in the coming years: a persistent universe that would not pause or restart, that would provide a sense of active presence and filled would be with content and sensory experiences, all based on an economy of its own.
What are the benefits of the metaverse?
The metaverse will merge the physical and virtual worlds in a new space. This can fundamentally change almost every aspect of our lives. For example, we will be able to travel, learn, work, consume entertainment, shop, and connect with others in the metaverse.
Friends and families, designers and businesses will be able to do more in this new space and experience experiences we never thought possible. Developers will also be at the heart of the metaverse. Individuals and businesses will be able to create many new types of content – virtual experiences, virtual spaces, virtual objects and virtual games – to explore for themselves and others.
The metaverse will open up new opportunities to earn a living and be rewarded for a wide and diverse range of creative output that has not existed until now. Not only will it change the way people buy, sell and do business online, but it will also open up a future where one’s imagination is the only limit.
Gaining new and impossible experiences
The metaverse will allow us to do and experience things that would otherwise not be possible. In other words, you can see the world and travel to Paris or Mars. Or even exploring other people’s perspectives and experiences, by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes or seeing the world through a child’s eyes.
You can get a backstage pass to a concert or a behind-the-scenes tour of your favorite museum. The metaverse makes experiences a lot richer and more immersive.
Connecting with others more easily
It will also change the way we interact with others by removing barriers. Instead of watching a nephew take his first steps on video, we can now walk with him, even if it’s on the other side of the country or the world.
Instead of catching up with a friend via video chat, we will be able to attend a virtual concert together. The metaverse will help you feel together even when you can’t be together.
Of course it is also possible to make new friends in the metaverse, which you would normally never have met because they live on the other side of the world. Or maybe you’ll find the love of your life in the metaverse, who you’ll often see in real life.
What are the dangers of the metaverse?
As you have read, the metaverse offers a lot of possibilities and opportunities, but there are also people who are afraid of the metaverse. Rightly so, because there are a number of dangers lurking out there. It is important to also be aware of the dangers, so that you know the story from both sides.
The metaverse keeps people away from the real world
Social isolation is a major danger of the metaverse. After all, the goal of the metaverse is to appear as real as possible. You also spend money to see concerts, for example, or to buy clothes for an avatar. So you do that with real money, which you spend on something that is not real.
Especially people who are socially less skilled or depressed would be at risk of living only for the metaverse. This is where they can be the person they’ve always wanted to be.
Not only such people are vulnerable. In a context of confinement, caused by a pandemic or the climate crisis, a digital offering can lead to a replacement of the real with the virtual. For example, it’s quite possible that some people get caught between a reality that doesn’t suit them and a virtual world they prefer over the real world.
In 2017, 13- to 19-year-olds already spent an average of more than 15 hours per week on the internet, with screen time constantly increasing, according to several studies.
Some digital behaviors have already been identified as risky, such as video game addiction, which has been recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization (WHO) since June 2018. However, this disorder affects only a small minority of gamers, according to the WHO. The metaverse could cause this number to increase.
Protection of personal data
When you use the metaverse, your data is stored. However, this is completely different data than, for example, just a name or address. Everything you say or do can be saved.
We already have privacy issues. People are not in control of their own data. That a company like Facebook is involved in the development is extremely dangerous. In the past, this company has shown several times that it cannot deal with the protection of personal data and privacy.
So think carefully before using a metaverse developed by Mark Zuckerburg, because you can never really count on the promises this man makes. Instead, you could opt for a metaverse that runs on a blockchain, because in that case you are in control of your own data. Later in this article, we will tell you which well-known metaverse projects are running on the blockchain.
Let’s not forget that, as with many organizations today (such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, etc.), it’s also likely that one company could dominate the metaverse space. Again, the amount of advertising and the quality of the user experience is a concern.
A few years ago, Facebook went to the dust for allegedly supporting Donald Trump’s campaign. Users were often shown an advertisement by the Republicans, which would have influenced voting behaviour.
Of course, this is also a real danger in the metaverse, because people are in a completely different environment that companies can set up. This makes it much easier for people to be influenced. Especially when someone is more active in the metaverse than in the real world, the user could apply experiences gained in the metaverse in the real world.
Governments could set rules to close dangerous metaverses, although this will probably be easy to avoid. Think, for example, of the dark web, where government agencies cannot access and users can work anonymously.
What can be done about these dangers?
Of course, it’s not too late, and there’s plenty of room to tackle these kinds of issues. One way to let companies gain less power is to split large companies into smaller ones. Because of this, a large company like Facebook shouldn’t be the only company behind the major metaverses.
This means that strict global regulation is required. When all countries work together to check these rules, it can be ensured that a company does not gain too much power.
We can also come up with a solution to the social problem. For example, schools and governments can ensure that people learn how to use technology at an early age. This makes the difference between reality and metaverse a lot clearer.
Metaverses can also develop algorithms that recognize when someone uses the metaverse to escape reality, after which such persons can get help. By means of machine learning, such an algorithm could become increasingly aware when necessary.
The algorithm could be based on how often someone is in the metaverse, and what kind of statements the user makes. For example, there are already several algorithms that can determine from a chat whether someone is depressed, because these people use certain words and phrases more often and in a different way than people who are not depressed.
What are the major blockchain metaverse projects?
As you have read, it can be dangerous when a large company has an entire metaverse in its hands. There are people who would rather not. Within a Facebook metaverse, for example, you are always subject to Facebook’s rules and algorithms. Many would rather have their own rules and their own freedom of speech.
With decentralized metaverses on the blockchain, users can have just that. Users can self-govern, and they can even use a decentralized digital currency to power their digital economy. Often they can also convert this into real earnings.
We believe there are those projects in the blockchain world that are at the forefront of metaverse. We are happy to tell you more about these projects. It is of course up to you whether you decide to keep an eye on these projects.
Decentralized Country (MANA)
In Decentraland, users create an avatar and have full access to almost anything they want. One can play games, go to a virtual casino or just hang out and chat. More recently, the network has started hosting major virtual music festivals, starting with the Metaverse Festival. During the multi-day music event, a number of musicians, including headliner Deadmau5, gave real performances all over the metaverse.
Decentraland is one of the forerunners of crypto projects in the metaverse. The network offers one of the most popular virtual plots of land available. The MANA token then powers a fully community-based virtual economy, which can then lead to passive income.
There are many opportunities for users to earn and spend with Decentraland. The network treats lots like real estate; users can buy specific plots mapped in the metaverse and develop them according to their own wishes.
They can also sell these lots if they wish. Apart from ground arbitrage, developers have many opportunities to make money through the Decentraland market; there, non-fungible tokens can be offered in exchange for MANA.
Decentraland has an advantage over Facebook and other tech giants looking to make an impact in the metaverse as it is already an established virtual community. It was originally launched in 2015, only to go 3D in 2017 and slowly expand outwards.
The steady growth of structure and capital through early investors makes for some notable co-signers. Recently, the Sotheby’s auction house bought a plot of land and recreated its New York headquarters.
We previously wrote an extensive article about Decentraland. Do you want to read that? Click here to find out more about Decentraland and the MANA token.
The Sandbox (SAND)
If Decentraland is the Bitcoin of the blockchain metavers, The Sandbox is the Ethereum of this virtual space. The two networks are neck and neck in the race to conquer dominance in the metaverse industry. Like Decentraland, The Sandbox is its own virtual world where developers can create games, sell items, and use the platform to build relationships and have fun.
Like Decentraland, The Sandbox users get the best experience of buying and developing land. Anything can be made from this land, and lots are owned by both individual users and companies. As with Decentraland, the existence of a marketplace makes it possible to generate real income with SAND.
The Sandbox’s map is a kind of graph of territories and their owners, showing who the largest landowners are. It also showcases some of the network’s largest partners, many of which are landowners themselves, such as video game developer Atari.
The Sandbox has a large number of sponsors in various areas of pop culture that help attract fans to the platform. In addition to Atari, The Sandbox has also lured well-known television programs, series and movies to their world. Think of The Walking Dead and the Smurfs, but also Snoop Dogg and Deadmau5. By leveraging these sponsors, The Sandbox could surpass Decentraland’s popularity.
What’s most appealing to SAND fans isn’t just the sponsorship deals it’s made; a huge recent investment in the network is encouraging. The Japanese holding company SoftBank invested only $93 million in the network. With this capital, development could certainly accelerate enough to surpass Decentraland as the largest metaverse network.
We previously wrote an extensive article about The Sandbox. Do you want to read that? Click here to learn more about The Sandbox and the SAND token.
Enjin Coin could be the most versatile of the three crypto metaverses here. It is not a metaverse in the traditional sense of the word; instead, it mixes the blockchain game and the metaverse into a unique hybrid product.
The Enjin network is the same as Decentraland or Sandbox. There are no plots, and there is no way to walk around as a virtual avatar. Instead, Enjin is a gaming platform where users enter different gaming spaces and interact with each other through play.
The network offers a variety of different games, all of which focus on building collections of NFTs and using them to beat other players. This could be reminiscent of Axie Infinity, the turn-based duel game in which users raise NFT creatures for training and exploration. But with a multitude of different offers, rather than just one kind of game, there are more options for users.
Enjin has been gaining momentum in metaverse space lately. Much of that has to do with his Efinity metaverse fund. Efinity is an NFT creation platform at the Enjin network. With its new $100 million investment in the Efinity chain, it hopes to push its technology further into space. Enjin follows the same ideology as blockchain fans and believes the future of the metaverse is decentralized, a stark contrast to what Facebook is proposing.
Investors are interested in Enjin because it connects blockchain gaming, better known as GameFi, to the metaverse. It’s worth investigating, especially since its future could go either way. As a gaming platform and NFT, the content of the network is what its users make of it.
With its strong offering, large amount of capital, and an avid community that offers many suggestions and input for further development, Enjin has the potential to deliver an amazing metaverse product.
We previously wrote an extensive article about Enjin. Do you want to read that? Click here to learn more about Enjin and the AXS token.
The metaverse is a successor to the modern internet. It ensures that almost all boundaries that we know today are broken. By putting on glasses, you step into a life in another universe. This creates many possibilities. You can gain experiences that you would never have had, or make things you couldn’t make otherwise. It’s even possible to find a job in the metaverse, or go to a party in another universe.
Yet there are also many dangers. The greatest danger is that people no longer see the difference between reality and metaverse, and are completely sucked into the virtual world. There is also a good chance that there are a number of large companies that will dominate this industry. They have a lot of power, because they are also in possession of all personal data.
Fortunately, there are various solutions that can be devised. One of these solutions is to use a metaverse that runs on the blockchain. You are then in control of your own data, and there is no central company that can abuse your data. As you have read, Decentraland, The Sandbox and Enjin are the main players within the blockchain metaverse, and we definitely recommend that you keep an eye on these projects.
Thanh Lanh Tran(1989) is Chief Editor from BitcoinUSD.com