5 Common Metaverse Misconceptions | VentureBeat

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“Meta… verse…” you think, as if splitting the contraction will reveal a hidden meaning. This is the twentieth time you’ve heard the term this week. Your mind conjures up images of virtual reality, gaming and missing out on life-changing investment returns.

And while virtual reality or gaming are often the first things that come to mind when you think of the metaverse, they are also two of the most common misconceptions.

As with any emerging technology, there are plenty of different interpretations of what it is and what it means to the world.

1. The metaverse is gaming. No, the metaverse is not gaming. Gaming is an activity you can do within the metaverse – along with many others.

2. The metaverse is virtual reality. Saying the metaverse is virtual reality (VR) is like saying the internet is your phone. Your phone isn’t the internet: it’s a way to communicate with the internet. Similarly, you can imagine experiencing the metaverse through VR, but you can also imagine experiencing the metaverse through your laptop.

3. The metaverse will replace the real world. The dystopian movie trope is that we will all live in a barren wasteland, “connected” to a virtual world (ie the metaverse). In a less bleak reality, however, the metaverse will not replace the real world. It will be an addition to the real world, a vast virtual environment where you can do a number of different things: work, socialize, play, create, explore and more.

4. The metaverse is all the rage. The metaverse is all the rage, just like cars were all the rage and the internet was all the rage. Yes, we are still 5+ years away from a fully realized metaverse and the technology we need is far from complete. But even today we already live in a very primitive version: we work remotely, we socialize and learn virtually and we find entertainment without leaving our homes. Our human needs will not change: we will not stop socializing, learning, working or seeking entertainment. But as always, the way we meet those needs will continue to evolve as our technology advances.

5. The metaverse will be a monopoly. Companies like Meta and Microsoft are two of the world’s most valuable companies because they are farsighted. They have a knack for skating where the puck will be and they can scale quickly. But jumping on the bandwagon early doesn’t mean they’ll master the metaverse.

One of the core tenets of “Web3” – where Web3 is an iteration of the Internet powered by blockchain technology – is decentralization. Decentralization means that Web3 strives to be owned and controlled by the community and the individuals who build it, rather than by large and centralized organizations like Meta and Microsoft.

The development of the metaverse will see waves of both centralization and decentralization. Building new technology is incredibly difficult and despite what idealistic Web3 people (myself included) tell you, it often requires a high degree of centralization for a long period of time. However, due to the unique openness of blockchain technology, decentralization is always around the corner – blockchain’s architecture backs up that promise. Like today’s internet, the metaverse will not be controlled by a single entity, it will be a tapestry of centralization, decentralization, big and small.

The metaverse is the future of the internet: a massively scalable, interactive and interoperable real-time platform that encompasses interconnected virtual worlds where people can socialize, collaborate, transact, play and create.

We reach an inflection point. The success of Web2, remote working and widespread adoption of hardware and technology are all at the highest level. There are 5 billion internet users and 3 billion gamers in the world (more on this later) and crypto has emerged as both the infrastructure layer and the zeitgeist that will fill the blanks: digital currencies, fully functioning digital economies, ownership of digital goods and true interoperability between numerous interconnected systems.

As with any misconception, there is often a grain of truth in it. One of the main misconceptions we need to understand is the connection between gaming and the metaverse. As we said before, the metaverse is not gaming, but gaming is how we reach the metaverse at scale. Why?

Gaming is an upsurge that drives the mass adoption of new technology. We saw that with Atari in the 80s, early iOS (Angry Birds) and Facebook (FarmVille) in the 00s. Gaming will succeed in bringing billions of people to Web3 and eventually the metaverse. People will be drawn to new and enticing games and before they know it, they will be immersed in the ecosystem. Gaming will be the biggest ramp for crypto and eventually the metaverse.

Plus, gaming is a testnet for the metaverse. “Testnet” is a common term in crypto. As you might have guessed, it’s a place where you can test and iterate before scaling a new product to millions of people. In fact, millions of people are already experiencing the metaverse on a much smaller scale. Let’s take the online gaming company Roblox as an example. People can create an account and profile and use their identity to access countless games and virtual worlds. With Roblox you can play, socialize, create and even monetize virtual goods.

Yes, Roblox looks like a kids game. But games like Roblox show people what’s possible. They hide the technology and focus on value and fun. As Web3 investor Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz said, “The next big thing is going to look like a toy.”

The connection with crypto

Crypto is a technology layer. It enables digital goods (eg NFTs), digital ownership, true digital economies and more. All of these apply to both the metaverse and gaming. This is easier to conceptualize in the latter: I can have an NFT that represents an in-game item, a marketplace where I can buy and sell digital goods, and I can earn in-game currency, which I can probably withdraw into my “real world” bank account.

Gaming will be the biggest stepping stone to bringing billions of people to crypto, Web3 and eventually the metaverse. The search for novelties will drive people to try this new and unknown technology and crypto-enabled games will be a natural testnet for what an eventual metaverse could look like.

State of the Union

We have seen many exciting advances in gaming, especially the development of the first wave of crypto-enabled games and virtual worlds. But perhaps a better way to think about it is a demo of technology and financial infrastructure. They focus on the economy and the technology over the experience, pleasure and mass adoption.

Let’s take two of the most prominent virtual worlds: Decentraland and Sandbox. Decentraland has 20,000 daily users. Sandbox has 30,000 monthly users. At its peak, Minecraft had 141 million. The digital currencies that power these virtual worlds both have market caps in the billions of dollars, despite their usage effectively rounded to zero. Their value is determined by the prospect of future growth: people who accumulate in-game assets and currency with the assumption that they will make money.

At the same time, we should be thankful for the work these companies and teams are doing. They are pioneers and what we learn from their efforts will pave the way for the metaverse. Most people don’t realize how hard it is to develop a game or virtual world, with many of our favorite games taking over 10 years to create.

But ultimately it is not the intention to show technology. The goal is to build great experiences powered by great technology, with the technology being the invisible part. People won’t think of ‘crypto’, ‘NFTs’ or their previous misconceptions, they will think of the experiences they have in games or the metaverse, made possible by technology.

Alex Reeve is Group Product Manager at Coinbase

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was original published at “https://venturebeat.com/2022/03/24/5-common-metaverse-misconceptions/”