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2021 is the year the concept of metaverse (virtual world) emerged thanks to big technology firms. While Facebook changed its name to Meta to reflect the new direction, Microsoft and many other companies also expressed interest in the metaverse, arguing that this is the future of the Internet.
Despite being talked about a lot in 2021, the metaverse doesn’t exist yet and won’t appear in the near future. What is available are ideas, ambitions and competition.
Follow Washington Post, 2021 is not the year of the metaverse. Companies just rebrand, based on existing technology to create the image of the metaverse. Obstacles existing across platforms make the metaverse impossible.
DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS OF METAVERSE
On October 28, 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced that he was changing the name of his company Facebook to Meta, reflecting a focus on the metaverse, a virtual space that allows people to interact with each other. The Oculus virtual reality glasses are the “gateway” to Facebook’s metaverse, similar to how smartphones help us access the Internet today.
In the 2 months since Facebook changed the company name, the term metaverse has received more attention. Statistics from Factiva showed that 12,000 English-language articles published in the last 2 months contained the word “metaverse”. The number of articles mentioning the “metaverse” in the first 9 months of 2021 is less than 4,000, the whole year 2020 is less than 400 articles.
Metaverse was mentioned more after Mark Zuckerberg changed the company name Facebook to Meta. Photo: Meta.
In articles about the metaverse, Facebook is the company with the most appearances, 10 times more than Microsoft. Data from Google Trends shows a 20-fold increase in metaverse-related searches since mid-October 2021.
Many articles confirm that the metaverse is already present before our eyes, similar to the World Wide Web or social networks. However, that is not the case.
While the metaverse has many different definitions, the majority of opinions say that this is not just an environment in virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) glasses, users interact in the form of avatars. The generally accepted definition of a metaverse is a bridge between different virtual worlds, each with avatars, relationships, and virtual assets across the worlds.
Mark Zuckerberg, Meta CEO said: Metaverse was not created by just one company.
In the novel about science fiction Snow Crash In 1992, author Neal Stephenson described the metaverse as not just an app, device, or experience, but a system of multiple apps, devices, and experiences. In Greek, “meta” means “beyond” or “after” (“beyond” or “after”).
Meanwhile, venture capitalist Matthew Ball writes that the metaverse is the “legacy of the mobile Internet,” a “real-time, large-scale, and scalable network of 3D virtual worlds” that exist. over time across all platforms and devices.
Mark Zuckerberg describes the metaverse as “the embodiment of the Internet, where you experience, not just look at”. The Facebook founder said the metaverse was not created by just one company.
FACEBOOK’S VIRTUAL WORLD IS NOT METAVERSE
Based on the above definitions, interoperability is an important element of the metaverse. However, that is also what is missing in most of the virtual world suddenly called the metaverse.
December 2021, New York Times reported a couple getting married in the metaverse, through a platform called Virbela. Attendees need to download the company’s proprietary software and create their own avatars. Virbela’s problem is incompatibility with other platforms. In addition, the marriage procedures of both still have to be done in real life to be recognized by law.
Horizon Worlds is just the first step in Facebook’s plan to make the metaverse a reality. Photo: Meta.
Meta executives held an interview in Horizon Worlds, the company’s self-developed virtual platform. With a variety of 3D spaces, support for gaming and work applications, Horizon Worlds embodies Meta’s vision for the future of the metaverse. However, users can only experience this space with the Oculus VR headset for $ 300, the platform login information is linked to the Facebook account.
Based on existing factors, Horizon Worlds is not a metaverse yet. It’s just the virtual space of the wider Internet world. Meta rep also told Washington Post that Horizon Worlds is just the beginning.
“We see Horizon Worlds as one of the first steps towards making the metaverse a reality in the next 5-10 years. Just like the Internet, the metaverse was not created by one company, Horizon Worlds is an example of how everyone will build the next generation social space,” said Eliza Kern, Meta spokeswoman.
WHAT IS METAVERSE REALLY?
Currently, the best example of elements that can appear in the metaverse is Roblox, an online platform that allows for the experience and programming of games. Users can join other people’s games, or invite friends to join games of their own design, each represented by a virtual doll. Environments in Roblox use virtual currency called Robux, each transaction is deducted in part for the development company. While Roblox supports VR glasses, the platform is most popular on smartphones and computers.
A true metaverse would link Roblox, Horizon Worlds, Virbela and every other virtual world, with an information and currency conversion protocol. For example, an exchange is needed to transfer Robux to V-Bucks, the virtual currency in Fortnite, the game has elements similar to the metaverse developed by Epic Games.
Roblox is the best example of the elements of the metaverse. Photo: Roblox.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, actively supports the metaverse when sharing his vision of the term in the legal battle between Epic and Apple, arguing that this is a technological future beyond Apple’s control. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft also believes in the “enterprise metaverse”, a virtual world system for work.
However, for rival companies to combine their worlds into a metaverse requires a certain openness and cooperation. In the past, the development of interactive technologies like the Web or email was promoted by governments, academia, and nonprofit organizations, not tech companies like Meta or Microsoft.
The virtual world has spawned many blockchain-based virtual real estate speculations, called Decentraland. For blockchain advocates, they will want the metaverse to exist independently of the big tech firms, using blockchain to break the monopoly of Meta or Google.
However, the obstacles of current blockchain transactions are slow speed, not safe and affect the environment depending on the platform. As a result, blockchain in the metaverse can struggle when it comes to fast, intensive processing at a very large scale.
With plans for the metaverse, it’s clear that Meta, Microsoft, Roblox, Epic Games and many other companies are promoting their products as part of the metaverse. The definition of the metaverse may depend on the largest holding company.
In his definition of the metaverse, Ball emphasizes that things can change in the future. “We should not wait for a single, comprehensive definition of the metaverse, especially since the metaverse is just emerging,” he said. However, we should not apply the term indiscriminately.
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