The metaverse will allow us to do things we cannot do in reality, much as video games do. We can destroy things and kill people without fear of punishment or retribution.
We can be risqué and push cultural and societal norms beyond traditional boundaries, cloaked by anonymity and invincibility in the metaverse. We can fly, experiment with drugs and cheat on our partners.
The metaverse will, at times, be trippy and hallucinogenic. We can live our best, most ideal lives in a body-like avatar and quickly revert back to our real lives without changing physical locations.
We can parachute in and out of this world in seconds, seamlessly interweaving multiple different realities into the natural rhythms of our lives. Janine Yorio is CEO of Everyrealm, a metaverse-focused innovation firm and investment fund.
Janine Yorio is CEO of Everyrealm, a metaverse-focused innovation firm and investment fund. Zach Hungate is director of gaming at Everyrealm, a metaverse innovation and investment company. This article was originally published in CoinDesk.
Crypto will become an invisible, infrastructure layer that facilitates micropayments and secondary sales, making it easier to move money from inside and outside metaverses and games. There will be many metaverse tokens, but there is likely to be one super currency that can be used in nearly all of them – likely a USD-pegged stablecoin.
Tokens are fundamental to a decentralized metaverse because they solve problems like fluctuating exchange rates between local currencies, political issues like sanctions and because they allow the exchange of goods to stay within the metaverse. Having to go transact outside of the metaverse or verify or regulate transactions through middlemen will reduce this world's economic capabilities.
Crypto-based economies will therefore create real jobs that pay well enough to supplement or even replace traditional sources of employment.
The Real Metaverse
Just like there is no one internet, there is no single metaverse. Current platforms, such as Decentraland, have benefited from the recent wave of interest in metaverse technology, but Decentraland is more of a proof-of-concept of the addictive and superior experiences the metaverse has on offer. Shopping in Decentraland today is arguably worse than shopping on Amazon. Music concerts in Decentraland are arguably worse than they are on Zoom.
That is because Decentraland is mostly an attempt to create a digital twin of the real world, building spaces that simulate experiences we already have offline but in novel ways.
Decentraland’s vision for the metaverse is missing a few key elements: high quality, addictive video games and content; high quality visuals; strong communities; and activities that we cannot easily replicate in real life.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, will be important to the metaverse but not as important as they currently seem. In fact, the metaverse will give NFTs utility, not the other way around. Once mainstream, the metaverse’s economies will dwarf the size of the current $35 billion NFT market.
About 30 million people hold NFTs in their wallets today. However, more than 250 million people play video games and 4 billion people use social media – two experiences at the center of the metaverse. In terms of valuing the metaverse using NFTs, these tokens are to the metaverse as the tail is to the dog.
There are many innovations that must occur between now and when this seamless, mainstream version of the metaverse takes hold, and these are the areas we are focused on at Everyrealm.
Improved audio quality. As we learned from two years of video conference calls, audio quality is a critical component to online socialization. You may have noticed that your brain feels more fatigued after a day of Zoom than it does after a day of conversations in real life. That is because audio on Zoom experiences what is called “packet loss” which is what happens when packets of data fail to reach their destination across the network. This occurs for a number of reasons, mainly network congestion. Crosstalk and spatial audio, the audio styles utilized in Gather.town, make for a more natural, intuitive and engaging audio experience for players. We are excited to see how audio experiences can improve, potentially to the point where music concerts are truly engaging. This is both a hardware and a software issue, and solutions will need to take both into account.
Better UX. The metaverse must have a pleasant user interface, one that allows players to join from mobile and seamlessly, without a hitch, transfer to a PC without hindering gameplay experience and user features.
Higher numbers of concurrent players. Most multiplayer games that exist today are limited by the number of users who can participate at the same time. For example, the seminal Ariana Grande concert in Fortnite that was seen by nearly 80 million people, actually happened on the private Rift server. That is because current game engine solutions such as Unity and Unreal Engine don't allow for massive player instances that future metaverse projects will solve. The metaverse will have one instance in which up to 5,000 people (and potentially more) can huddle in the same area of a game without network or latency issues, creating a more immersive and engaging experience for everyone involved.
NPCs, or nonplaying characters in the metaverse will act with emotion that seems more real and lifelike. This will occur through more advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology, designed to recognize traces of emotion in text, voice and emoji chats.
Photo-real graphics. The metaverse will most likely be built in Unity or on the Unreal Engine, with high fidelity graphics, but this will need to be balanced alongside hardware requirements and Wi-Fi and internet quality limitations.
Wallets. To drive further Web 3 and metaverse adoption, users require frictionless onboarding that starts with a friendly user interface that is also intuitive and gamified. Wallet onboarding should feel as frictionless as Web 2 logins in order to allow people to participate as quickly as possible without delay.
Financial microtransactions on the blockchain and reduced transaction (gas) fees will enable high rates of transactions and are a prerequisite for a seamless metaverse experience. We are seeing an increasing number of games building on alternate blockchains from Ethereum such as Avalanche, Polygon and Solana because these alternate blockchains offer higher transaction speed and lower transaction costs. We expect even more refinement in this area, and change appears to be happening quickly.
Security. Security and decentralization are of the utmost importance in blockchain-based metaverse and gaming products. Developers are actively reducing the risk of breaches and hacks by building and integrating with reliable, high-validator blockchains that are truly decentralized and distributed.
Metaverse and blockchain interoperability. The future is multichain! A multichain future is the goal within the blockchain community, but we aren't there yet. Today, blockchains are not directly integrated and require bridges to transfer assets from one another. Bridges have been the primary cause of several hacks as there has been over $1 billion in bridge-related hacks in just over a year.
DAOs. Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) will govern the metaverse, and DAO tooling will simplify governance and formation of these systems. Users will control metaverse protocols through active governance within DAOs. While the DAO model is often thought as the future of corporations, there is an inherent lack of tooling to make this thesis a reality today.
Hardware improvements. In order to experience a truly immersive metaverse product with photorealistic graphics, developers must use a platform such as Unreal Engine 5 and hardware improvements are a must. Metaverse products and games today are low fidelity and only run on web browsers. This is a current limitation, and the future metaverse product offerings that users will come to love will likely require hardware improvements, such as medium-tier graphics processing units/central processing units (GPUs/CPUs).