How Metaverse is changing workplace tools, gaming ecosystems

Highlights

  • Metaverse refers to the theoretical 3D “shared virtual world” of the future where buildings, lands, avatars and even names can be purchased and sold by using cryptocurrency.
  • Many new platforms for virtual asset and are powered by blockchain technology and uses use cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The Metaverse is a trending term due to the pandemic as lockdown restrictions and work from home policies forced people online for both business and leisure. It refers to the theoretical 3D “shared virtual world” of the future, where buildings, lands, avatars and even names can be purchased and sold by using cryptocurrency.  In these settings, users can interact with one another, travel around with friends, attend events, buy goods and services and visit places.

The word is deduced from “meta”, which means beyond and “verse”, which refers to universe. The term was first coined in science fiction that many people believed as the successor to today’s internet.

However, it’s only a vision till now but major technology companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Epic Games are working on it to make it the setting for various online activities, including studying, work, shopping and play. 

Metaverse covers an extensive range of virtual realities, from workplace tools to games and community platform. According to accounting and advisory giant PwC, virtual reality and augmented reality technologies might see a US $ 1.5 trillion boost by 2030 as compared to US $46.5 billion in 2019.  Most of the new platform will use cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are a new type of virtual asset and are powered by blockchain technology. It will enable a new type of decentralized digital asset to be built, owned and monetised.

The NFT market rushed during the pandemic with US $2.5 billion sales for the first six months in 2021 as compared to US $13.7 million in 2020.

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Gen MZ leads rush

A lesser-known South Korean engineer, Shaun is planning to develop the parcels of land he snapped up for thousands of dollars in recent years into long-term moneyspinners. Its major project is all in the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland. The construction will not be affected by any pandemic, increased costs or labour shortage which may lead to a profitable business model in coming years.

For the world, Metaverse may be a future vision but in South Korea it’s a growing reality as the house prices are soaring and income inequality have enticed Generation MZ, into alternative online worlds. Users can purchase land in the virtual world and may host a real business there just as in the real world. However, the success of the communities and businesses around them can enhance the value of their virtual land. 

Samsung Asset Management predicts that its Samsung Global Metaverse Fund to draw US $86.49 million by the end of this year.  It was launched in late June just two weeks after KB Asset Management’s KB Global Metaverse Economy Fund.

South Korea’s largest mobile carrier SK Telecom, which is the part of a Metaverse Alliance’ launched by government in mid-May that has over 200 companies and institutes, launched a metaverse ‘ifland’ in July, where denizens can host and attend meetings with their animated avatar.

The government aims to play a lead role in the metaverse sector and last week unveiled a 604.4 trillion won budget for 2022. To accelerate a digital transformation and foster new industries such as Metaverse in the country the government earmarked 9.3 trillion won, said by Ministry of Science and ICT official. 

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Who are the Big Players?

The Metaverse can broadly be divided into two distinct types of platforms.

The first centres across building a blockchain-based metaverse by using cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Platforms such as the Sandbox and Decentraland enables users to buy virtual parcels of land and build their own environments.

The second group uses the metaverse as virtual world where they can interact and meet for meetings and recreation.

Gaming platforms such as Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft are used to complete and collaborate in games and to create their own, fall into this category.

The Future

It is still unclear that to what extent Metaverse will mimic real life and how long it would take to develop. To make it easy for users to fully interact in the space, many platforms in the blockchain-based metaverse are still developing Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology. Big tech Giants such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft are investing in Virtual reality and Cloud computing businesses with the expectation of growth.

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