It’s hard to resist the vision of Meta (formerly Facebook) and other platforms in the virtual world. A digital utopia that can change lives in myriad ways — whether it’s how we socialize, work, or even stay healthy — is hard to refuse.
This is especially true when you consider that these platforms are described as the greatest technological disruption of human life and a multi-trillion dollar opportunity for businesses. However, some are skeptical that this is all too good to be true, at least for now.
The technological architecture that would bring this promised immersive experience to life is missing. Take the example of the live performances featured in Facebook’s Metaverse video in October. The idea of experiencing these authentic real-world sensations through a headset seems far-fetched. What seems even more unlikely is that a virtual reality headset will become a household staple.
It will most likely require advanced VR equipment to immerse us in these virtual worlds. Still, customers have already shown resistance to buying VR headsets and other often expensive and bulky hardware. The first Oculus headset launched over five years ago. It doesn’t come close to the same mainstream adoption as more compact and convenient hardware, such as the cell phone or laptop.
Expensive equipment is not a necessity for the fundamentals of the metaverse. It is accessibility that is essential to integrate users into any technological innovation.
Pokémon GO is the perfect case study. The augmented reality game brought users into the real world to collect the titular fictional creatures. It was successful not only because of the engaging gameplay, but also because of its accessibility: anyone with a mobile phone could participate.
Related: More play and less payouts make for better Metaverse games
Use cases and metaverse
We’ve been seeing accessible metaverse platforms for quite some time now. Second Life was one of the first, launched in 2003. But in its 19-year history, it hasn’t come close to integrating the number of users that Meta envisioned.
Decentraland is a newer platform and has taken off since Meta was announced. It captures the imagination of businesses through the integration of economic and blockchain elements such as NFTs and the MANA token.
With customers confined to their homes by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the decline of brick-and-mortar stores, Decentraland is giving brands a chance to rekindle public engagement.
Rather than just filling a virtual shopping cart, companies have turned to these existing metaverse platforms with creativity in mind. JPMorgan bought virtual real estate and opened its own metaverse lounge. Suddenly it doesn’t seem excessive to be able to create a real bank account in a virtual world.
Related: The Metaverse is booming, a real estate revolution
There are more subtle tactics for getting users to talk about a brand. Take pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, who gave vaccinated players a blue badge for their avatar.
It’s not just the marketing team that gets their hands dirty in these virtual worlds. There are many opportunities for sellers to monetize content and take advantage of the metaverse.
Behind the scenes, Blockchain technology was waiting for this. NFTs give real value to digital assets and lend themselves perfectly to the metaverse. Artists can trade virtual paintings, architects can sell digital real estate, engineers can auction Metaverse-based vehicles.
Related: Blockchain-based digital fashion creates new business models for brands
Currently, fashion is the industry that generates the most interest. As the Metaverse becomes a staple of modern life, users will want to look good. High fashion brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Louis Vuitton sold NFTs and fetched the most high prices.
Ecommerce giants are also capitalizing on this trend, generating a healthy and competitive space. Nike bought virtual shoe company RTFKT because it was trying to create a metaverse-focused brand.
Acquisitions can be crucial to the survival of large companies in this rapidly changing virtual environment. Having a young, capable and progressive squad can mean the difference between sinking or swimming.
Not without problems
While the rules for the metaverse have yet to be offered, let alone an agreement, some of the problems that have plagued the internet are already beginning to plague our shiny new reality. The all-new Horizon Worlds is Meta’s first metaverse project for Oculus VR headsets. Currency.com has already reported on the sexual harassment taking place in this metaverse, as well as the dangers lurking in the corners of other platforms.
Toxicity on social platforms is nothing new, but solving it in the Metaverse will be crucial if it is to become a digital utopia. Businesses and, more importantly, users will find it difficult to commit to a future ruled by hostile virtual realities.
Related: If the glass slipper doesn’t suit you, break it: unraveling the myth of gender equality in crypto
Meta has already implemented a solution in the form of a “secure zone” that can act as a protection bubble where no one can touch or talk to a user. This also makes it as easy as possible to block others.
While Meta has laid out these general community moderation plans, it hasn’t given any details on how to monitor a large-scale metaverse. Regulating hate, harassment and freedom of expression is perhaps the biggest stumbling block.
Horizon Worlds feels like an experiment, testing the current capabilities of the Metaverse. There is no public timeline for the release of the full Metaverse or Meta or any other similar platform. So theoretically, it could take years or even decades for the metaverse to become a part of everyday life.
That doesn’t stop companies from announcing metaverse projects or expanding into existing platforms, be it JPMorgan, Disney, Adidas, Coca-Cola or Gucci. But the vague delivery times evoke comparisons to the dotcom bubble and its equally lengthy sales pitch. Without the delivery, there is a good chance that it too will become a bubble with the risk of it eventually bursting.
Related: Why are major international brands experimenting with NFTs in the Metaverse?
With the dust from Facebook’s rebranding still unsolved, it’s too early to mention it. It is certainly plausible that there is a place for the Metavers in the world, but it remains far from the compelling and idyllic vision sold to us by those hoping to take advantage of it.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move carries risks, and readers should do their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Stephane Gregoire is the US CEO of Currency.com, where he is responsible for developing and managing the platform’s growth strategy in the US and Canada. Currency.com is a fast-growing cryptocurrency exchange that saw a 343% growth in its customer base in 2021, making it one of the fastest-growing cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the world. ‘Europe.