The term “metaverse” has been somewhat of a buzzword lately, especially since Facebook was rebranded as Meta Platforms. Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement about the company’s commitment to creating a metaverse kicked off a slew of similar statements from various company heads.
While the term “metaverse” was not invented by Zuckerberg and has in fact been around for a couple of decades, it came back into the spotlight during the last year or so. So what does metaverse actually mean and how will it change the gaming experience for players across the world?
What Is The Metaverse?
For starters, let’s try to better understand what the metaverse actually is. First of all, there is no single definition of the metaverse. It refers to the next version of the Internet containing a network of virtual worlds that users can seamlessly flit in and out as unique 3D avatars. It is also often imagined as a single virtual world supported by AR and VR technology. These are the simplest ways to think of the metaverse, but they don’t cover the whole scope of the new world wide web.
“Metaverse” is actually a portmanteau of the words “meta” and “universe” that first appeared in Snow Crash, a sci-fi novel from 1992. When it comes to video games, Second Life is considered the first to have used a metaverse. Released in 2003, this online multimedia platform allows players to create an avatar that they can use to socialize with other users in a virtual world. Roblox – a multiplayer game creation platform released in 2006 – is also described as a metaverse. More and more components of metaverse tech are expected to roll out over the next few years, seeing as how the use of AR and VR is also on the rise.
It should be said that various companies are doing their part in creating the metaverse by building elements for it. For instance, in addition to regular gameplay, Fortnite also offers various opportunities to socialize, attend concerts and exhibits, and buy things in its virtual world. Microsoft and Meta are also doing some of the work. Zuckerberg had said that the company rebranded in order to reflect this new direction they’re taking. Others like Nvidia, Snap, and Unity are also contributing to the infrastructure that might play a role in the metaverse.
Another part of building the metaverse that should not be overlooked is that big companies are purchasing smaller developers in order to consolidate the market. By acquiring Activision, Microsoft has a better chance to implement a metaverse into its releases. Sony is doing the same as they’re working on acquiring Bungie.
How Has The Metaverse Affected The Online Gaming Industry?
Although we might not have a proper version of the metaverse yet, some elements of it are found every day in video games. For example, game developers are doing their best by working on implementing augmented and virtual reality into their releases. All over the world, cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and various other collectibles are being integrated into games.
Seeing as an increasing number of people are spending more time playing games, popular titles are also being turned into sales channels. It’s no longer a surprise to see big names like Minecraft, Fortnite, and Animal Crossing collaborating with other brands. Labels such as Nike, Valentino, and Marc Jacobs have all realized the potential that games come with and are using them to tap into the user base.
What Games Can You Play In The Metaverse?
For one, there is Decentraland. This virtual world is owned by its users who can build real estate, sell and buy it, rent it, use it for ads, and so on. There is also an events page that lists all the upcoming and ongoing events like DJ parties and art exhibits. Among other properties, you can also find a digital version of the Sotheby London gallery here.
If you’d like to indulge in casino games, you’ll be glad to hear there is also a casino quarter in Decentraland. Actually, there are quite a few metaverse casinos that you can find and place a few wagers at. Do note that most of them ask you to use cryptocurrencies if you want to play.
The Sandbox is yet another metaverse game where players can purchase land. Some game providers are using this opportunity to build casinos in the game. First launched in 2012, the game allows users to become owners via smart contracts and blockchain technology.
Other similarly interesting games that you can consider digging include Illuvium, Axie Infinity, Chain of Alliance, Alien Worlds, and My Neighbor Alice. Most of these allow players to trade in various products which are all NFTs.
While the metaverse is years away from being complete, some game developers have already started preparing for the new reality that will soon be upon us. It will be interesting to see how the new Internet shapes up in the next few years.