The battle for the metaverse is on, and all kinds of brands are throwing their hat into the virtual ring. Recently, Walmart became the latest firm to hit the headlines after news broke that it’s planning to launch its own cryptocurrency and range of virtual goods based on NFTs. It joins tech giants including Facebook and Microsoft, which have already come out with their own ambitions to conquer the metaverse.
However, as a few industry experts have pointed out, the gaming industry is already the most advanced when it comes to metaverse adoption. Xbox exec Phil Spencer recently joined the NYT Sway podcast, where he pointed out that Microsoft’s Minecraft and competitors like Roblox and Fortnite are already operating virtual metaverses. A few days earlier, Wired ran a similar piece, highlighting the fact that Second Life had generated similar hype over a decade ago.
Of course, many brands making their foray into the metaverse have latched onto this. Last year, Balenciaga teamed up with Fortnite to drop a range of virtual attire, while rival Gucci opened the doors on its virtual “Gucci Garden” to players in the Roblox universe.
Decentralization is Where is it At
All well and good, but for many people, centralization in the metaverse holds limited appeal. In the decentralized gaming space, metaverses offer far more potential. Consider the runaway success of games like Axie Infinity, which users are playing to generate real income during times of pandemic-induced hardship. There’s also the added bonus of legitimate asset ownership – not possible on centralized platforms.
Having already established the head start, the gaming industry isn’t about to lose the advantage either. There’s also a ton of innovation happening in the decentralized metaverse space aimed at diversifying the type of content available and the range of audiences to which it appeals.
Netvrk is one example, a decentralized VR content creation platform. Recognizing that VR adoption is key to the success of the metaverse, Netvrk aims to solve the circular riddle that requires a critical mass of content to compel people to go out and buy a headset. It offers a set of tools that allow anyone to create and monetize VR content in a matter of minutes at a very low cost. The idea is that by democratizing access to VR content creation, Netvrk can attract a share of the vast global long tail of creators. For smaller game developers that would previously have been priced out of the VR market, it’s likely to be a game-changer.
Kawaii is another project aiming to appeal to the next generation of gamers and crypto enthusiasts with its ambitious plans to become the first anime metaverse in 2022. Kawaii Islands underwent an initial launch in September 2021;
However, the team has recently unveiled a brand-new roadmap laying out plans for new types of gameplay, infrastructure for creators, and community features promoting interaction and connections between players.
Creating a Safer Internet
All this growth is great news for the industry and for users, who are set to be inundated with choices for how and where they spend their time. But particularly as the appeal of the decentralized space grows among bigger and more diverse audiences, it raises questions about how we can avoid the pitfalls of Web 2.0.
For example, keeping kids safe online can be a massive challenge for parents, as criminals can prey on popular apps and games. Similarly, parents also want reassurance that their kids aren’t consuming inappropriate content.
There are also other legitimate reasons to put checks in place around who is consuming which type of content in the decentralized metaverse. For instance, there may be geo-restrictions in place around gambling games. Content creators may also simply want to tailor specific content for different audience segments.
Identity is Key
As Web3 evolves, infrastructural projects like Selfkey will invariably grow in prominence as the Web3 space develops. Selfkey offers a trustless and private identity solution based on a reputation staking model, so the more that’s staked against any particular individual credential, the more it can be trusted.
Selfkey recently also unveiled its newest identity solution for the metaverse, called Living Avatar NFTs. This NFT allows an individual to layer on credentials that could include something as concrete as age or something as nebulous as their winning stats if they’re a gamer.
Identity solutions introduce a critical element of security in the metaverse. They allow individuals to interact with one another with a degree of confidence that someone isn’t a threat but without necessarily having to reveal their full real-world identity.
Similarly, operators and content creators have a way of ensuring that they’re serving appropriate content to the right audience. Moreover, there’s a powerful marketing tool that allows creators to segment their audiences based on the preferences they share in their blockchain-based identities and living avatars.
The metaverse and Web3 are set to bring about seismic changes in the way we interact online, and there will be enormous economic and social opportunities in these developments. In a post-pandemic world where online communication is more dominant, these are too big to miss. Nevertheless, we need to ensure that Web3 seizes the chance to solve some of the most fundamental issues spawned from Web2.
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