A year later, what about the metaverse?

The future of the metaverse seems uncertain. According to Google Trends, interest in the virtual world reached a record high in January. However, interest in the term collapsed in the second quarter of this year and has since plateaued.

With billions of dollars invested in this industry, BeInCrypto wondered where it was going now and where we stand after a year of market scandals and hype surrounding the metaverse.

The term “metaverse” first appeared in 1992 in the novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. Originally, it was a science fiction term to describe a virtual reality where users could escape the dystopian real world. Since then, the concept has moved from fiction to reality.

However, early reports of Metaverse adoption have been mixed. In fact, a CoinDesk article (based on data from DappRadar) reported that only 38 “active users” were on Decentraland in 24 hours. The sandbox would have counted 522 users at the same time.

The metaverse platforms then fought back. In particular, they pointed out that DappRadar’s numbers only include the interaction between the unique address on the wallet and the smart contract on each platform. This data will thus not include users who do not use their game token. Many actually use the metaverse solely as a social platform.

So what is the real situation?

The concept of a metaverse built on blockchain is far from representing the resolved future of interactive media. Indeed, according to experts, it is not guaranteed to become the dominant medium, with AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) competing better for the attention of technologists, futurists and academics.

So would blockchain be a necessity for the future of the metaverse?

Nils Pihl, co-founder and CEO of Auki Labs, a company specializing in virtual reality and augmented reality, believes that the question of whether cryptocurrencies are essential to the metaverse rests largely on its definition. “If you’ve defined the metaverse as a spatial version of the Internet, where identity and ownership are governed by the blockchain, then it’s clearly crucial. Still, it looks like a cheap handout.”

“If blockchain had never been invented, the metaverse could (and would) still be imagined and built the same way. Neal Stephenson coined the term long before blockchain was even a term, and he was far from the only visionary to describe this kind of cyber future .”

Regarding the lull in interest in this sector, he said: “The hype was all about people hoping to make money, not populate these virtual worlds. Everyone was betting that someone else would be interested. You have to create something, people want to use, not something people hope to sell.”

A mixed picture for the metaverse

Last week, the layoff of more than 11,000 Meta employees sounded alarm bells in the tech industry. With the pre-existing and widespread skepticism towards the metaverse, people are once again questioning the viability of an economic model based on a still ill-defined concept.

For others, the concept of “true ownership” remains a key reason for a blockchain-based virtual world.

“Knowing that our digital lives are increasingly part of who we are as individuals, true ownership of digital assets will prove critical to the long-term success of any metaverse,” said John Burris, Director of Strategy for VCOIN at IMVU. “Blockchain technology gives rise to real ownership”.

On a collective level, we’re only in the very early days of metaverse evolution, and over time I think we’ll see the industry gain traction… When the shift happens, we can all relate. In the meantime, we and other Web3 innovators will continue to build the necessary infrastructure to provide users with a robust and dynamic experience.”

“Most of the entrepreneurs and innovators we regularly interact with do not trust Meta to drive this space forward. While Meta’s difficulties are unfortunate, they are unlikely to stop the builders of Web3 from continuing to move forward.”

And what do the polls say?

While there are still competing designs, an October 2022 Sitecore survey of metaverse “enthusiasts” revealed strong interest in many aspects of these new digital worlds. These include new experiences, as well as being able to escape from reality, online festivals and concerts, meeting new people and virtually testing new products and services.

That said, this is a survey of enthusiasts. And many of these user experiences are inextricably linked to the definition of a metaverse. However, there are still hurdles to overcome.

An earlier survey of the general public by Wunderman Thompson Intelligence also revealed similar enthusiasm; that said, it also found that only 15% of respondents “knew what the metaverse was and could explain it to someone else.” This is a very worrying percentage for the sector.

A survey by TELUS International in November found that 65% of respondents believed the metaverse would be “mainstream” within five years. More importantly for businesses, respondents said they would pay 5% more for a product or service backed by a high-quality metaverse experience. Similarly, nearly a quarter of respondents said they would spend up to 10% more.

It is not certain that the results of this study really reflect reality. But by many indicators, excitement about the metaverse remains when the question is asked. Whether that will translate into actual use is another question.

The next trends

However, there are positive points for the future. Gartner has identified six trends that will drive metaverse usage over the next three to five years. These include metaverse games, which Gartner predicts will grow by 25%.

These trends also include “spatial computing,” which digitally enhances real-world objects and landscapes by adding invisible information.

To preserve its natural heritage, the state of Tuvalu plans to upload its entire country to the metaverse. Its foreign minister, Simon Kofe, said: “As our countries disappear, we have no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation.”

One thing is clear: we still need to clarify what the metaverse is and how exactly it will work. For Web3 natives and supporters of decentralization, blockchain will often play a decisive role. Whether that dream comes true remains to be seen.


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