It has develop into practically unimaginable to go surfing with out coming throughout the time period “metaverse”. Ever since Fb introduced its choice to rebrand itself as Meta and construct a metaverse, the Web’s been abuzz with chatter round metaverse. However, what’s the which means of metaverse? The place did the time period come from?

The Collins English dictionary defines metaverse as “a proposed model of the web that includes three-dimensional digital environments.” Though metaverse garnered mainstream consideration in current weeks, the idea has existed for some time. Then, who got here up with the definition of a metaverse?

Writer Neal Stephenson is the primary to coin the time period “metaverse” in his science fiction novel “Snow Crash” launched in 1992. He imagined metaverse as a world the place digital avatars of individuals might work together and join with one another in 3D environments. 

Metaverse definition. Credit: The Collins English dictionary

About 30 years later, the universe Stephenson envisioned is changing into a actuality, sans its dystopian connotations. Basically, the metaverse is a digital world that implements a variety of tech, together with digital actuality (VR), video, augmented actuality (AR), and blended actuality (MR) into our each day lives, finally merging the bodily and digital worlds. 

Put merely, metaverse opens up another 3D world the place individuals can roam round as avatars, attend concert events, store, play video games, attend conferences—just about every thing you’d do in the true world. Thus, it comes as no shock that many are defining the metaverse as the way forward for the Web. 

A man using VR glasses
With Fb’s metaverse transfer, everybody’s desirous to know the which means of a metaverse. Credit: Freepik

Metaverse examples: Which metaverses exist already at the moment?

Whereas Meta (previously Fb) CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicts it can take round 5 to 10 years for its metaverse to fruition, a number of metaverses exist already. In reality, some have even existed for years. Whereas the earliest model of metaverse was not backed by blockchain expertise, many current ones are constructed on numerous blockchains. Equally, whereas the which means of metaverse has remained roughly the identical, over time, these digital worlds have come a protracted method to combine NFTs and extra into the ecosystem. 

Let’s check out those which are already well-liked:

Non-blockchain metaverses

IMVU and Second Life

IMVU and Second Life are the 2 prime digital worlds in historical past. The previous is a metaverse and 3D avatar-based social networking platform launched in 2004 (yup, you learn that proper; metaverses have been round for round 20 years). The platform permits customers to create their avatars and affords digital chat rooms to talk and play with buddies from throughout the globe. Minimize to 2021, it claims to have over 6 million month-to-month guests. Early this yr, the platform launched its personal ERC20 token, known as VCOIN. A profitable assortment of NFTs adopted swimsuit. 

Virtual avatars interacting in IMVU metaverse
IMVU is an OG metaverse that focuses on social networking. Credit: IMVU

Second Life, launched by Linden Labs in 2003, is one other well-liked OG metaverse. It affords customers a 3D digital world the place they’ll, effectively, lead a “second life” just about. Folks can create avatars, attend concert events, purchase land, residence decor, in-game wearables, and extra. Many of the transactions in-game are carried out utilizing its personal foreign money known as the Linden greenback. In line with one report, in 2020, the gamers amassed $73 million!

Video video games: Fortnite and Roblox

The gaming firm, Epic Video games has already established a digital world in its massively multiplayer on-line role-playing sport (MMORPG), Fortnite. Epic Video games CEO, Tim Sweeney, has lengthy been vocal about his plans for constructing a metaverse. His imaginative and prescient, in line with The Washington Put up, is to create a “digitized communal area the place customers can mingle freely with manufacturers and each other in ways in which allow self-expression and spark pleasure.”

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In recent times, Fortnite has hosted a number of digital music concert events, film trailers, model occasions, and extra. In reality, final yr, over 12 million individuals attended the premiere of rapper Travis Scott’s historic digital live performance throughout the sport. After 5 reveals that took individuals to digital underwater, area, and a floating amusement park, amongst others, that determine soared to round 28 million!

Travis Scott performing in Fortnite metaverse
A glimpse of Travis Scott’s music live performance in Fortnite. Credit: Fortnite

In the meantime, based in 2004, Roblox affords a platform the place customers can play a variety of user-generated video games. It permits gamers to construct properties, create actions, design merchandise and promote them on marketplaces. It has even partnered with skateboarding shoe firm, Vans to develop a “Vans World” throughout the sport. Equally, in collaboration with Gucci, it launched a restricted version “Gucci Assortment” consisting of clothes and niknaks.


Even earlier than asserting its plans for the metaverse, Meta (previously Fb) had invested closely in digital actuality. Final month, whereas asserting its metaverse transfer, Zuckerberg acknowledged that he plans on constructing a digital area the place avatars can join for work, leisure, journey, purchasing, and extra by way of VR headsets. 

“We’ve gone from desktop to internet to telephones, from textual content to images to video, however this isn’t the top of the road,” Zuckerberg had stated. “The following platform and medium shall be much more immersive and embodied web the place you’re within the expertise, not simply taking a look at it, and we name this the metaverse.”

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke concerning the which means of the metaverse and Fb’s metaverse plans final month. Credit: Meta

Whereas the corporate has not revealed how a lot or if in any respect its metaverse will depend on blockchain expertise, speculations are rife that it’s going to contain blockchain. It might both go the entire decentralized means of blockchain-based platforms like Decentraland or use numerous components of blockchain as Fortnite has performed with cryptocurrencies. Properly, solely time will inform how the corporate builds, or reasonably, re-defines, the metaverse. 

Blockchain metaverses

The metaverses we mentioned earlier, are owned by a centralized entity—say a company behemoth. Not like them, many absolutely blockchain-based metaverses are “open metaverses”, which means, a group owns it. Right here, all the information and digital belongings are saved by way of a decentralized, public ledger (or database). This concurs with the metaverse imaginative and prescient of many, who consider that metaverses, just like the Web and Web3, ought to be open, interconnected, and interoperable. 

Let’s check out among the hottest metaverses on this class:


Primarily based on the Ethereum blockchain, Decentraland is a very decentralized, community-owned, digital world. It opened to the general public early final yr and has shortly develop into some of the well-liked metaverses. Right here, you should purchase, promote, and accumulate NFTs, construct 3D environments, create avatars, play video games, and attend occasions—the listing is infinite! To do all these and extra, you merely must open the Decentraland web site on a browser, create an avatar, after which discover the metaverse as you please!

Moreover, the Decentraland metaverse affords two native tokens: MANA and LAND. The previous is an ERC-20 token utilizing which you should purchase numerous belongings, together with equipment and collectibles, on the metaverse. MANA holders additionally get the facility to vote on vital governance choices. 

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Decentraland metaverse
Decentraland is a well-liked Ethereum-based metaverse. Credit: Decentraland

LAND, alternatively, is a non-fungible, restricted digital asset recognized by its location on Decentraland. The Decentraland metaverse is made up of 90,601 parcels of LAND and every parcel is an NFT. You should buy LAND to host a variety of functions together with video games, galleries, and promoting, amongst others. Should you don’t wish to construct your personal functions, you’ll be able to even promote or hire your parcels to builders for a hefty sum!

Somnium Area

Based in 2017, Ethereum-based Somnium Area is an open, digital actuality world the place you should buy land, buildings, and different belongings. Whereas it began as a totally centralized platform, it started tokenizing its land parcels in 2019 to make the possession decentralized. At the moment, the builders are actively constructing partnerships to create a absolutely decentralized metaverse.

As with Decentraland, you’ll be able to construct numerous belongings and experiences and monetize them on this metaverse. Whereas it’s obtainable in each 2D and VR, it facilitates the most effective VR metaverse experiences. Moreover, it affords 4 major merchandise. Whereas UnitySDK is used to create and customise avatars and properties, a builder module means that you can construct environments. Subsequent on the listing is an NFT market the place you should buy and promote all in-game belongings. Lastly, the metaverse affords a number of digital actuality experiences.

In the case of tokenomics, Somnium Area affords three tokens: CUBE, PARCEL, and AVATAR. Whereas Somnium Dice (CUBE) is an ERC-20 token that serves because the metaverse’s utility token, land PARCELs are digital estates to construct numerous experiences. AVATARs, alternatively, are full-body VR avatars which you can mint and promote to different gamers.

Somnium Space metaverse avatars
Digital avatars in Somnium Area metaverse. Credit: Somnium Area

The Sandbox

The Sandbox is one other well-liked open metaverse that means that you can create, purchase, and promote numerous digital belongings and gaming experiences on the blockchain. It primarily affords three built-in merchandise: 

  • VoxEdit: It’s a software program that means that you can create and animate voxel NFTs, similar to avatars. You may as well export these 3D ASSETS and promote them on The Sandbox market.
  • Sandbox Market: That is the place you purchase and promote ASSETS.
  • Sandbox Recreation Maker: It’s a toolbox utilizing which you’ll create and play 3D video games totally free.

Moreover, The Sandbox’s economic system entails three totally different tokens. The primary, SAND, is an ERC-20 token like MANA and is used for all of the transactions throughout the digital world. Subsequent on the listing is LAND, which is digital actual property which you can purchase to create numerous digital experiences. Lastly, ASSETS are tokens created by the gamers that may be traded on {the marketplace}.

Wiv Technology virtual vineyard in Sandbox
Wiv Expertise’s digital winery on The Sandbox metaverse. Credit: Twitter (@wivteam)

What does the metaverse and blockchain tech must do with one another?

As we’ve seen with Fortnite and Second Life, metaverses don’t want a blockchain to exist. Nonetheless, blockchain-linked metaverses can provide customers a slew of advantages, particularly within the type of digital belongings.

NFTs: Avatars, wearables, tickets, and extra!

With the arrival of NFTs, particularly in gaming, it has develop into nearly unimaginable to think about a metaverse with out NFTs. As NFTs are primarily digital certificates of possession, these will be extensively used within the metaverse as an possession certificates for a variety of products and providers.

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Avatars and digital land

The commonest use-case of NFTs is the metaverse entry itself. As an example, NFTs from numerous PFP initiatives can be utilized as characters/avatars within the metaverse. That is already taking place in P2E PvP video games like Galaxy Battle Membership, the place holders of Cyberkongz, Iluvium, Animetas, and extra can use the characters to struggle within the sport.

In addition to, one other essential use of NFTs is as digital actual property within the metaverse. Similar to in the true world, NFTs enable individuals to personal, promote, and hire actual property just about. They’ll additionally construct numerous environments and experiences, as we’ve seen in Decentraland and The Sandbox. NFTs additionally operate as a “key” that not solely permits the proprietor entry right into a location but additionally grants the power to concede entry to others. 

Building structures on The Sandbox
You’ll be able to construct numerous constructions on The Sandbox’s LAND. Credit: The Sandbox

Different in-game gadgets

Remarkably, NFTs usually are not restricted to metaverse avatars or digital land. They’ll signify a variety of things together with automobiles in racing video games like REVV Racing or weapons in video games like Age of Rust and ​​The Six Dragons. NFTs may also be wearables for characters within the metaverse.

Digital sneaker powerhouse RTFKT affords digital sneakers for metaverse avatars and even partnered with online game legend, Atari to launch unique NFT sneakers. What’s extra, even Italian luxurious style label Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) launched custom-designed metaverse wearables with its first NFT assortment!

REVV racing car
‘Dash King’ NFT racing automobile in REVV racing. Credit: REVV

Tickets and POAPs

Alternatively, NFTs may also be used as tickets for numerous on-line and offline occasions, together with music concert events and model occasions. The holders of BAYC NFTs, for instance, had unique entry to the gathering’s lately held Ape Fest. Talking of occasions, festivals, conferences, and summits, amongst others, also can situation NFT attendance badges, known as POAPs. These are NFTs occasion holders freely give to attendees to show that they attended a selected occasion.

Different Tokens

Utility tokens, that operate as digital or in-game foreign money is one other essential benefit that blockchains deliver to the metaverse. From Decentraland (MANA) to The Sandbox (SAND) and Somnium Area (CUBE), the most well-liked metaverses have their very own digital currencies. These currencies are what gamers use to purchase NFTs and different belongings throughout the metaverse. In reality, submit Fb’s metaverse transfer, the worth of many metaverse tokens skyrocketed

In addition to, a few of these tokens operate as governance tokens. This implies holders of tokens like MANA get to vote on essential metaverse adjustments. Governance tokens are particularly crucial for a decentralized metaverse as they offer energy to the group. 

On the finish of the day, metaverses have limitless prospects. Even the which means of a metaverse might change because it develops and turns into extra mainstream. Nonetheless, we’re taking a look at an thrilling future the place metaverses, pushed by blockchain and NFTs, will rework the best way we stay, work, and socialize. It’s already taking place and it’s only a matter of time earlier than metaverses make their means into the lives of individuals from all walks of life!

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