Although transactions with non-fungible tokens (NFT, for its acronym in English) have taken off and made headlines, for most people outside the world of cryptocurrencies they are nothing more than a gimmick. The metaverse will change that.
There is always a turning point in which new technologies go from being something secondary and incomprehensible to, suddenly, being part of life. That point usually comes from the confluence of a series of drivers, and right now, we’re experiencing what happens when two of those trends hit the tipping point together.
Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to change Facebook’s name to Meta was enough to propel the metaverse to top headlines around the world, although the concept has been around for at least three decades. It is this apparent sudden appearance of the metaverse that provides the necessary impetus for the rehabilitation of the image of NFTs, considered as a speculative trick with crypto..
Big brands like Morgan Stanley are now predicting the future of NFTs, and the “digital luxury” industry has predicted a $ 50 billion metaverse by 2030. The next phase of the NFT cycle has begun.
Beyond the virtual
The metaverse is often thought of in terms of virtual and augmented reality, but it’s not that straightforward, although VR / AR adds to the promised immersive experience. It is also thought in terms of games, as in Ready Player One, but it is not limited to that either. But nevertheless, both options give clues about what will be.
Work on the metaverse has already leaned toward a “full-bodied Internet”, to quote Zuckerberg’s insight: A network of interconnected virtual experiences that mix the digital with the physical, offering new ways of working, playing, socializing and creating. Think of it as an extension of the experience of working from home precipitated by COVID-19, but now in a virtual space in 3DWhether you access it through headphones or a normal 2D screen. Remote meetings would not have to mean a wall of talking heads, but you could share a virtual space with a group of avatars. This is important because having a real sense of presence allows for more nuanced and natural interactions.
Facebook, of course, saw this opportunity right away and has every reason to keep promoting it. Its Oculus Quest headsets – sold out through much of 2020 – have given the VR market a big boost, in large part thanks to their ease of use. The speed with which this device has gained a following highlights the new Consumers’ appetite for 3D experiences: Over the past 18 months, people seeking to escape the isolation caused by confinement from the pandemic have creatively repurposed games as places for social interaction, whether it’s Animal Crossing weddings or reunions. working in Red Dead Redemption.
There is no clearer indication of how games lay the foundation for what will soon be a much broader set of experiences. Another actor who has had his eyes on the metaverse for a long time is Epic Games., the studio behind the Fortnite monster, which hosted a virtual concert by electronic artist Marshmello a year before lockdown. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has gone for the metaverse, offering services – including his Unreal Engine design tools – for free.. The objective? Drive development in the direction he wants: one with fewer barriers, more interoperability, more data sharing. Less centralized; less harmful.
Metaphysics … with a dose of blockchain
Certainly there is no underlying need for a decentralized structure, but it aligns with what many advocates of the metaverse see as the most desirable goal.: what Sweeney describes as an “open framework in which everyone is in control of their own presence, free from control.”
To create a metaverse worthy of the name, rather than a collection of separate 3D spaces, platforms must be interoperable and seamless.. Payments must be secure, frictionless, and instantaneous, and created assets (such as custom avatar) can be kept and used no matter where you are in the metaverse. Until recently, to participate in the digital world, you had to leave clues that allowed guardians (game creators, etc.) to recognize you. The blockchain, when used by individuals to keep track of their accounts, assets, and transactions, adds great potential for users to choose how they behave, what they own, and what they decide to trade.
The blockchain is one of the “central enablers” of the metaverseaccording to Matthew Ball, the influential metaverse commentator and venture capitalist. Another crucial element in your definition of the metaverse is the “sense of individual presence and … continuity of data”. The more you “live” on the web, the more important your individual “skin” will be. Even the most basic pixel art can become strongly associated with individual identity, as demonstrated by the passion for CryptoPunks; its owners often say that they feel closely linked to their punk.
In fact, NFTs are making the expression of individuality more and more possible online, either through randomly generated traits or carefully designed. The virtual clothing and accessories that users choose in the metaverse will contribute to a faithful online identity for each person and to deepen their commitment. Fashion and art are a vital part of self-expression in the physical world; Why should the online world be any different?
As already mentioned, digital fashion is booming and has a new growth opportunity in NFTs. Design houses and celebrities are selling furs, costumes, hairstyles and mascots as NFT; “Releasing NFT” is as fashionable as releasing an unexpected album. In fact, tMusicians and athletes alike are embracing the possibilities of obtaining copyright when selling NFT assets, in the hope that they can create a new system of property rights, unburdened by the practices of traditional intermediaries..
As digital property rights are legitimized and blockchains become more secure, NFTs may become more serious bargaining chips. Imagine a group negotiating with Disney the rights to use their characters, for example. Does it seem crazy? Sotheby’s recently saw a DAO (made up of 17,000 donors) raise the bid for a rare copy of the United States Constitution to more than $ 43 million. Although they did not win, it is clear that the shared ownership facilitated by the NFT will become a real economic force.
Financing the future
What does all this mean for capitalism, innovation and creativity? And for business models and our life experience?
The variety of sources of income available in the metaverseFrom gaming to ticket sales to software subscriptions to healthcare, has the potential to shift the technology paradigm away from advertising and big data, with all the privacy and security nightmares that have brought with it. While this is not a fact, it is at least a possibility.
The more open and accessible the platforms are, the stronger this narrative will be. Interconnected platforms attract more users; then seamless and interoperable asset and payment mechanisms increase your incentive to design and trade, circulating revenue throughout the system and increasing the potential for a parallel economic order.
Leading gaming companies are already making their metaverses development tools available to the public with the explicit goal of fostering interoperability and thus wider adoption.. These companies are convinced that an open metaverse is best for the business. It will undoubtedly be the best way to create a thriving online economy, in which users are motivated to participate and create value, which will redound to both platform developers and user-creators.
It is possible that, for once, the technological, philosophical and economic arguments all point in the same direction: towards a distributed metaverse, using the capabilities of blockchain technology., in which online citizens can finally escape the walled gardens of Web 2.0 and reap the benefits of their contributions. In this exciting new world, NFTs will bridge the gap between the real and the virtual. From identity to business, tangible property will make a difference. It is a whole new level of reality.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. All investing and trading involves risk, and readers should do their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Stephanie so is an economist, policy analyst, and co-founder of Geeq, a blockchain security company. Throughout his career, he has applied technology in his specialized disciplines. In 2001, she was the first to use machine learning in social science data at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Most recently, she investigated the use of distributed network processes in healthcare and patient safety in her role as Senior Lecturer at Vanderbilt University. Stephanie has a BA from Princeton University and the University of Rochester.