What is the metaverse?

Facebook’s recent rebranding to Meta has caught the attention of billions of users. The question on everyone’s mind is what exactly is the meta universe? Will it resemble augmented reality technology, like in the game Pokemon GO? Back then, users from all over the world would walk the streets of cities — looking for virtual creatures through the cameras of their smartphones. Or it would be specially equipped spaces where a person would come in, put on glasses or a virtual reality helmet, and then start playing or doing some kind of action. It’s not clear how the meta-universe would connect with the real world.

In this article we will look at what a meta-universe is, what the popularity of this technology is, and what projects already exist.

Since this phenomenon is fairly new, there is speculation on the internet about what a meta-universe is. Some see it as a new level of virtual reality. That’s not entirely true, because VR is just one of the technologies being used. Mark Zuckerberg claims that the meta-universe will not be limited to virtual space. Others compare the meta universe to an online game like «Fortnite» or «Minecraft». For reference, «Fortnite» is a battle royale game where about a hundred players land on one map and fight each other until the last survivor is left. «Minecraft» is a sandbox game in which you can create houses, objects and more from blocks of a certain type. While the two games themselves are not meta-universe, they use similar principles, namely multiplatforming and user-generated content. To put it even more simplistically, a meta-universe is a hybrid of a social network with a communication app and a game. In the same presentation by Zuckerberg, the metaworld is shown as a borderless space at the intersection of the real world and the virtual world. According to the creators’ idea, users will be able to hold meetings, develop business and much more. However, the current level of technological progress does not allow the idea to be fully realized. First, the VR equipment has not yet reached the mass consumer. Glasses are bulky, and controllers are not always convenient to use. Secondly, supporting such a large-scale project is a technically difficult task; servers may not be able to handle the load of a large number of users.
Now let’s look at what meta-universes already exist. One of the most hyped examples is DecentraLand. Since its launch in 2016, it has developed a large community and has even been used by several major brands to advertise their products. The system is based on two internal tokens: LAND and MANA. MANA coins are used to buy or rent out virtual pieces of land, which can then be used to build things. A built-in editor and library of graphical models are available for this purpose. You can run DecentraLand in your browser or by downloading the client from the website.
Bloktopia is another interesting representative of metavillages. First of all, the concept of the project stands out. It is a virtual reality «skyscraper» consisting of 21 floors. The goal of users is to get as high as possible. New floors and rooms are accessed for BLOCK tokens, which run on the Polygon blockchain. Coins can be earned by participating in various events and games. Registration takes place in the main room on the ground floor of the «skyscraper». If you want to try it out, you’ll need VR glasses.

Blockchain technology would in theory make it possible to merge several metavalleys into one, but so far it’s hard to imagine.