Recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the social giant will rebrand as Meta Platforms Inc., underscoring the growing popularity of a promising phenomenon: the metaverse.
Currently, the metaverse doesn’t exist. Yet, gamers might already be living in it and the art world is cashing in on it.
But what is it exactly? And what is its connection with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the very token we can use to represent ownership of unique items?
Let’s dive right in.
What is the Metaverse?
Neal Stephenson coined the term “Metaverse” in his 1992 dystopic novel Snow Crash. In the book, Stephenson describes the Metaverse as an “imaginary place” that avatars used by real people using virtual reality (VR) goggles.
In it, developers can build things such as buildings, parks, and signs. But beyond that, they can also build things that don’t exist in reality such as free combat zones where people can hunt and kill each other.
But that’s Neal Stephenson’s definition of the Metaverse. So what’s the real Metaverse?
Right now, there’s really no universal interpretation of the Metaverse. That’s because no one has built it yet, which means there’s no clear idea on how it will work.
But if we want to speculate, the Metaverse will offer a variety of virtual experiences and environments where people can meet, work, play games, attend school, go shopping, and experience live concerts using VR headsets, augmented reality (AR) glasses, smartphone apps, or other devices.
Or, we can consider what Facebook–perhaps the tech company with the largest stake in the Metaverse–has to say about what the Metaverse is.
According to Facebook, the Metaverse is a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.
To truly understand the Metaverse, it’s important to understand what it isn’t. It’s not a game, a piece of hardware, or online experience.
It’s a virtual universe where everyone and anyone can exist as a digital being (avatar) and collect, own, exchange, and buy digital items. When the Metaverse is complete, the goal is to combine our physical reality with the digital world.
How are NFTs Supported on the Metaverse?
In order for the metaverse to function like the real world, the inventory to sell, objects people use online, and even online real estate all need to be ownable, sellable, and transferable within the metaverse. That is where NFTs come in. Why? Because NFTs grant holders true ownership of digital items.
The closest real-life example of the metaverse was when attendees at the 2019 inaugural NFT.NYC conference experienced one of the first instances of NFT-controlled access. They were able to enter the event with an NFT-based ticket.
Now, various companies are looking to combine the Metaverse and NFTs, aiming to transform the way we interact online. For example, Decentraland has a limited number of LAND tokens that prove ownership of Metaverse real estate.
As Facebook continues to develop the Metaverse, NFTs will give users and items an “identity” within a virtual space that’s completely different from a developer’s control of code.
Examples of NFTs That Are Currently on Metaverse (Or Will Be)
Decentraland is an impressive NFT project where players can own and take care of a piece of land.
Decentraland allows users to sell and buy digital real estate using its native token, LAND. They can also interact with each other and play games in the digital world.
Axie Infinity is arguably the biggest gaming project in the NFT space and one of the largest NFT projects overall.
In the game, players can adopt, grow, and train digital pets, known as Axies, which are very similar to Pokemon. Each Axie is an NFT, which users can combine into more powerful and rare ones through the platform’s token, Smooth Love Potion (SLP).
The SandBox is a blockchain-based virtual world that allows users to play, build, own, and monetize their experiences on a virtual land they own using NFTs and SAND, their utility token.
In addition to gaming experiences and commerce capabilities, SandBox also is also partnering with celebrities like rapper Snoop Dogg. For example, in the future, the Sandbox metaverse will be home to a digital replica of Snoop Dogg’s mansion.
In addition to the current NFTs in the blockchain, there are upcoming NFT projects that will take part in the metaverse evolution. They include:
- CryptoDragons: With CryptoDragons users will be able to collect dragons, engage in various battle modes, and earn NFTs.
- FLUF World: In FLUF World , users will be able to play as 3D animated rabbits, which will also be NFTs on the blockchain.
- MIXMOB: MIXMOB will be a play-to-earn game using the Solana blockchain platform. Users will be able to create their own avatars and gain access to official MIXMOB resistance masks, which will give users a unique but anonymous identity.
- Angel Baby Hit Squad: Angel Baby Hit Squad is a cross-chain project that aims to connect well-known blockchains, Ethereum and Cardano.
- CuriousAddys: The creators of Curious Addys describe the upcoming virtual trading platforms as the Duolingo for crypto. They’re the first educational NFT project, aiming to make learning how to successfully invest in crypto as risk-free as possible.
Why the Metaverse and NFTs Matter for the Future
The metaverse and NFTs are more than just trends. They’re the future of the internet. The metaverse will offer public spaces for avatars to interact and the ability to create, own, and exchange virtual property.
The metaverse will not only provide a platform for artists to sell their work, but it also has the potential to make NFTs universal. Brands like Burberry are already creating NFT fashion lines, artists like Ariana Grande and Travis Scott are performing virtual concerts and immersive games Roblox and Fortnite have in-game NFTs, which only indicate further proof that the metaverse is in our future.
It’s only a matter of time before the metaverse intersects our real lives. Or maybe it has already, and we just don’t realize it?