Why the Metaverse should be taken seriously
Roasting Meta feels very meta
When Facebook’s rebranding as Meta made public the social media giant’s foray into a dedicated development and focus on the metaverse, the overall reaction online was understandably critical.
Zuckerberg and his company Meta were roundly roasted on the Internet. Enter the meta jokes (“never meta worse idea”) and memes that poked fun at its founder’s 90-minute snoozefest presentation about how the firm behind WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook were merely “buzzword vaporware”.
The critics weren’t entirely wrong in throwing ridicule at the event. Facebook (the platform, which retains its name) has never really recovered from its data privacy scandal and, like other giant brands before them, has taken to a major rebranding in an attempt to restore its reputation. And to roll out an announcement with such fanfare while not actually presenting a new product or so much as a preview? Anyone in marketing will tell you that’s not usually a good idea.
But at least for many others, like us, who have dedicated their business and life goals toward realizing such a complex and evolving future concept of the metaverse, there is one important thing to take away from this. And that’s even the planet’s biggest corporations and thought leaders are taking notice of our world’s expansion into virtual spaces.
Yearning for something more real
Many technology visionaries are hard at work today, finding practical and realistic ways to use a mix of emergent technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and, like us at Cradles, blockchain, to shape this future idea of fully virtual 3D environments that people and other physical entities can access and interact with in real time.
In practice, it is the gaming industry that has and continues to come closest to proving a real-life implementation of the metaverse, with tens of thousands of people all over the world plugging into some version of a game universe that lives and breathes as millions of characters in their own digital world.
Just a decade ago, most gamers would merely be looking at a screen and playing a game, freezing their character in the game environment at a save point, reanimating them only when they next power up the game.
Today, many games already allow you to enter a virtual environment with a headset and/or glasses, playing in an endless world of interconnected virtual communities where gamers battle each other or cooperate.
However, the implications of a living world that progresses and develops in real time — parallel to the physical world — reach beyond gaming concepts and offers early promise as a transformative medium for social engagement and even commerce.
Metaverse: beyond buzzword vaporware
As countries all over the world entered into a pandemic-induced lockdown, many businesspeople, students and workers, were forced to come into grips with a new way of life that needed you to shop, meet, study, interact online. Even today, with forecasts of Covid waves lasting well into 2025, governments and businesses are realising that the old physical-centric way of going to work, school and socialising will never truly return.
The metaverse and its concepts of seamless duality thus appeal to many who may be faced with little choice but to adapt to a new way of life. And for those, like gamers, who are actually eager for new experiences, the metaverse simply seems like the next evolutionary step in the age of connectivity.
While meeting apps like Zoom would replace physical interactions, other virtual events began offering glimpses into what the metaverse concept could do to enhance the otherwise “lifeless” aspects of online life such as social media and shopping.
Soon, people began experiencing what it would be like to live in a seamless virtual universe akin to their own, living and interacting in the metaverse as they would their regular physical lives.
We’ve been shown how it could happen for music and entertainment with the Travis Scott virtual-only concert held on Fortnite attracting tens of thousands of his fans to come online into a game to enjoy and dance to his music. We’ve seen the craze for virtual real estate take place on Decentraland, allowing people to buy and sell plots of land and property to each other. We’ve even witnessed Microsoft Meetings now using photo-realistic 3D avatars and digital props to try and implement metaverse concepts into their plain old meeting app.
These examples are, of course, with their own limitations. You couldn’t really experience the music individually on Fortnite, for instance, as it was a single play track you couldn’t change. You couldn’t destroy real estate on Decentraland either, and if you left it as is, it would always remain the same. The open worlds in there are not quite endless, the clothes, the gear, the things you own in them are still pretty much static, with customizations only as expansive as the ideas of their developers and designers.
We want to change this and to that end, we’re working on some exciting technologies that will render these limitations moot! Very soon, you’ll be able to try them for yourself in Cradles: Origin of Species, an exciting blockchain-based game that allows real-world time and space rules to mesh in a game for the first time.
Zuckerberg wrote last month in his 2021 Founder’s Letter to his company that: “Right now our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything we’re doing today, let alone the future.”
For us at Cradles, we also know the metaverse can’t possibly represent virtually every single facet of our lives today, but we are confident that what we are building is a window to what the future looks like.
Where our universes live, breathe, evolve, and change, as we do.
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