By Nav Gupta, Founder 7 CEO, Chaarmi Worlds, Inc.
The metaverse is generating a lot of buzz, but for all the hype, some seem confused as to what it really means.
Many are seeing 3D graphics and pretty pitch decks all trying to explain the metaverse. From VR experiences to games that are claiming to be a metaverse, the confusion is everywhere and no clear definition exists. This is, in part, because the definition of the metaverse is also being created and written by those who are building it out and the future users of the metaverse itself!
I’ll give you seven key features to determine what is a metaverse and what is just an imitation. You can use these as a test to see if a project is simply just another experience using the term metaverse to push some fancy marketing or if it really could be a metaverse.
Seven key features of the metaverse
- Is a 24/7 always-on experience that is available for users to enter from anywhere in the world
- It can be in any medium (2D/3D/VR/AR, etc.)
- It has land or property that can be built upon or owned by a person or person(s) or a company
- It has social interactions that are equivalent to real-world social interactions
- It has some form of an economy
- It has a system of governance (Centralized, Semi-Centralized, Land Decentralized, Fully Decentralized, etc.)
- It has a common area that connects private lands or properties
Using the list above we can determine if some common games and apps could be considered a metaverse (based on Chaarmi Worlds Inc.’s definition.)
- NO. Not 24/7 — each game played happens within a period of time and then the entire session is done and a new session begins
- YES. It is in 3D.
- YES + NO. There is no land or property that a user can own, however, they can build upon the land (usually used to protect oneself from other players trying to kill them). They can build on shared lands but then the entire experience gets destroyed.
- YES + NO. Emotes or dancing items allow for some social interaction. Text and Voice chat exists but is quite hostile in nature as players are out to attack each other. Most of the time the social interaction is NOT what you would find in a real-world setting.
- NO. Fortnite has something called VBucks (if you have kids you’ve probably purchased VBucks for them). This virtual currency is used to obtain various packs and emotes etc., however, it generally goes to the company and is not spread around the world like an economy. In general, you wouldn’t have someone becoming a wedding planner in there or getting some type of job in there or generating income from VBucks and earning VBucks to trade for real USD.
- YES+NO. Centralized (Epic Games). There is no form of any other type of governance other than a Centralized one where a company makes all the decisons.
- NO. There is no common area that connects lands or properties.
VERDICT: Though often considered a metaverse, based on the above, Fortnite is not a metaverse.
- YES. It is on 24/7 even when people sleep the world in second life still exists and runs.
- YES. It is in 3D.
- YES. There is LAND that can be purchased and owned and built upon
- YES. There are various social interactions and many times the social interactions are what you would find in real-world settings where people fall in love, make friends and even get married.
- YES. A full economy exists along with a Linden Dollar that can be traded directly for USD and is quite often spread around. Users can build up businesses and even earn money from it (One of our co-founders at Chaarmi was in Second Life for 12 years as a wedding planner and made over $40,000 USD over the years from it).
- YES. Centralized governance is controlled by the company, however, they do take feedback from their users.
- YES. There is a walking area outdoors that connects lands to each other
VERDICT: Yes, Second Life is a metaverse based on the above.
A Walled Garden Experience (four walls with a beautiful 3D environment inside):
- NO. Not 24/7, many times these experiences happen at a certain time and are then shut off completely by their creators.
- YES. In 3D or VR.
- NO. There is generally no land that users can purchase or own in these experiences.
- YES + NO. Depending on the experiences there may or may not be any interactions.
- YES + NO. Once again, for the most part, there is generally no economy that could be within these experiences.
- YES + NO. There is generally no real governance, however, occasionally a company that creates the experience or the client that requested it would be the one deciding what happens in that walled garden.
- NO. This is the most distinct feature that completely makes sure that this is not a metaverse but a 3D or VR experience, there is generally no way to exit a walled garden into a virtual common area land.
VERDICT: Not a metaverse. Often being called a metaverse by many, walled gardens generally are not a true metaverse though many of them are claiming to be.
The future of the metaverse
As blockchain and the metaverse become fully integrated, and fully decentralized governance is realized, people will be able to vote and make decisions inside of metaverses, as well as build full economies and ecosystems. We could very well see a day when people in the real world become citizens of virtual worlds and decide to live nomadic lifestyles while earning crypto and traveling the planet. If they decide they do not like a certain virtual government or “metaverse” they can leave and find another one. They can earn money, make friends, and generally live within these metaverses. For many, this could become the very future of the internet as augmented and virtual reality devices become smaller and more powerful.
As it keeps expanding and growing, the definition of what the metaverse is and how it works is also being defined by early creators and users of these various metaverses. Hopefully the above gives an idea of how to spot a metaverse and can help you understand the industry better.