The metaverse has become a hot topic in recent years. Though its origin is rooted in a 90s science fiction novel, the metaverse gained popularity once it was brought to the forefront of the lexicon in Ready Player One.
It is described in the oxford dictionary as a “virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.” But, in reality, it is much more than that. Trendmicro describes the metaverse as “an immersive and interactive operating environment that users can access through various connected means.” In essence, it uses an amalgamation of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 technologies to provide an interactive element to the existing internet experience.
What it is maybe far less important than what it is meant to be or even what it signifies. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the metaverse began to grow out of the massively multiplayer online games of the era. You had titles such as EverQuest, Asheron's Call, Star Wars Galaxies, City of Heroes, and peeking with World of Warcraft. Each is viewed as simply a video game by the outside world. Yet, to the players, they were worlds people lived in. Many of those people found themselves identifying with the characters that they customize and dedicating days, months, or even years of their life to. More often than not, cultivating friendships and relationships and developing skills such as leadership and communication.
That was the beginning of what we see today as the metaverse. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for some of those MMOs to have evolved into more metaversal enterprises. World of Warcraft stands out the most as it allows people to buy trading cards in real life and receive virtual items in-game. It has also allowed them to use real-world money to purchase items such as horses to expand their in-game universe. However, while each MMORPG represents a proprietary single virtual world, the true metaverse will allow users to seamlessly move between virtual spaces with their virtual assets.
What will become the metaverse is a virtual world that can be a proxy for the real world. Not necessarily visually, as some of the metaverses appearing on the list below do not replicate reality, nor do they try. Instead, they present an escape or a place where you can have an experience you cannot have in the real world. The advent of web3 brings the possibility of currencies that transcend individual games and allow you to earn an income that can be used to satiate your real-world desires. Web3 also permits decentralization of the metaverse enabling the users to have a say in what happens on the platform. Whereas in the web2 world, many MMOs were taken offline because they were no longer profitable. Web3 also allows the metaverse to be more than just a game of questing and crafting. Instead, entitling you to create items and sell them on a marketplace while also allowing you to meet others in a space; where you can do things ranging from watching movies to dance parties.
One of the offers of the metaverse is that you can buy a car in the real world and get the vehicle in metaverse A. Then also, be able to drive the vehicle in metaverses B, C, and D. Then potentially sell it in metaverse E, so you can go back to real life and do it again. The number of users will currently vary from metaverse to metaverse.
According to DCL Metrics, for example, there are around 3000 DAU or Daily active users in Decenterland. To put that in context, an MMO from the 90s like Asheron's call featured 2000 people per server or 12000 DAU, whereas a behemoth like the world of warcraft hosted 12k users per server or 120 million DAU.
It is possible today to live almost exclusively in the metaverse, pay your bills and interact with people avoiding many of the world's issues. Recent technology has pushed people towards a world where they choose not to go outside and not to interact with others on a person-to-person basis. Instead, they spend their days at home watching Netflix, meetings on zoom, or standing in a virtual world. The following list features some of the top metaverses and metaversal technologies. We won’t touch much on the play2earn or speculative aspects. However, it is recommended to do your own research into those.