It has been a hot topic of discussion recently, with both Facebook and Microsoft claiming to have a metaverse. The Metaverse is a fascinating concept, but what exactly is it? When will Metaverse arrive?
Although Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote at Connect may have given the impression that the Metaverse is almost here, the reality is a bit more complicated. There is still time for the Metaverse to arrive, and it is already here for you to use.
It depends on how you define the Metaverse, whether it is futuristic or requires massive technological advancements. Alternatively, it could be a theoretical concept manifested differently by different online services.
First, let’s understand the concept of “the launch of the metaverse.”
Metaverses are unified virtual spaces where users interact with virtual objects and each other using autonomous elements of the surrounding environment. It is impossible for there to be more than one Metaverse, which unites all the different virtual worlds developed by developers, VR companies, and social media giants like Meta.
There will also be a digital economy in the Metaverse, and its life will be almost as rich as ours in the real world. The Metaverse shares several characteristics with social media. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it has numerous aspects in common with it.
There is a high level of immersion offered by both websites. Buying, meeting people, learning new things, working, and earning money can all be done online without ever leaving your home.
That is why commentators have pointed out that we already live in Facebook’s Metaverse – the company’s collection of social apps. According to this definition, the Metaverse is already existing and only needs an AR/VR overlay.
It is also a social vision that Mark Zuckerberg has for his facebook’s Metaverse. Founder’s Letter explains it as follows:
Facebook was mostly a text-based website when I started it. With the advent of smartphones with cameras, the Internet became visually rich and mobile. The ability to share experiences through video became richer as connections became faster. The desktop is gone, the web is here, the mobile is here, the text is gone, and photos and videos are there. However, this is not the end of the story. We will have an embodied internet where you are part of the experience, not just watching it. That is known as the Metaverse.
We ask, then, if the Metaverse is an embodied internet, is the Internet we have today the Metaverse 1.0?
Is the Internet a metaverse?
There is a logic to this argument. According to Mark Zuckerberg, metaverses are interconnected digital spaces where avatars provide new experiences independent of real-world surroundings.
Forging meaningful connections is what the Metaverse does best; AR/VR’s immersive nature is just a bonus.
Given this core value proposition, Web 2.0 can be considered an early version of the Metaverse, as it lacks the three-dimensional qualities of the Metaverse but is similar to it in terms of interoperability, access, and transactions, as well as privacy and regulatory requirements.
Hence, if that were true, your question, “When will metaverse arrive?” could be answered very simply: is it already exists?
The 4 Existing Metaverses
The next step is to consider the Metaverse enabled by AR/VR, first envisioned by Neal Stephenson in Snow Crash. At Connect, Zuckerberg described a blockchain-based 3D VR world that is all-encompassing.
Interestingly enough, even this isn’t a very futuristic idea. Currently, four companies are working on creating a workable metaverse. Let’s take a look!
MANA is a cryptocurrency developed by Decentraland, a 2017 startup with its fully functional Metaverse and cryptocurrency. Over the past couple of years, Decentraland has gained rapid traction.
The space now hosts notable events like a recent Banksy auction in the style of Sotheby’s. Even the Government of Barbados is represented in the world’s first metaverse embassy.
We have come the closest to Mark Zuckerberg’s description of the Metaverse with Decentraland.
2. Microsoft Mesh for Teams
The Microsoft Mesh is a virtual world where virtual avatars, mixed reality, and 3D augmented reality can collaborate at work.
The Mesh app is available on desktops, mobiles, and tablets, as well as through VR headsets. Currently, Mesh is only available for Teams, HoloLens, and AltspaceVR- with more apps and VR spaces on the way. It is also now possible for users to access the Metaverse.
Decentraland and Sandbox provide a complete metaverse experience, but Sandbox focuses exclusively on gaming.
Besides building and owning assets, players can also monetize the virtual experiences they create. A game-maker, an art editor, and a marketplace for selling and investing assets are all part of Sandbox.
You can access Sandbox as a metaverse today by registering for an account and exchanging NFTs.
4. Second Life and Minecraft
Last but not least, Second Life was probably the first application to anticipate the Metaverse on the market.
This app has no metaverse, but it behaves exactly like one, except it lacks the AR/VR overlay. A virtual avatar can be created, social experiences can be had, virtual locations can be visited, events can be attended, and much more can be done.
Since the very beginning, Second Life has been a 3D online alternative to the real world – not a game. Similarly, Minecraft works on both desktop and mobile devices and in virtual reality.
Is Facebook going to launch its Metaverse soon?
Compared to science fiction, Facebook’s Metaverse is likely to be much more seamless and intuitive. Zuckerberg admits that it could take several years to build the Metaverse.
By 2031, Zuckerberg hopes to sign on a billion users to facebook’s Metaverse so you can expect a soft launch of sorts within the next few years.
Metaverse access is available through a variety of platforms. You can use the Metaverse now, and there’s still time in the launch of metaverse. You will need a Windows PC and a crypto wallet to participate in gaming metaverse truly. Other platforms require glasses or a headset to view augmented reality.