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This Is How The Metaverse Is Built. Welcome To The New Internet

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Yesi is one of those who heard of the metaverse For the first time last year when Mark Zuckerberg renamed Facebook and introduced Meta, you will have been left with the idea that it is “an extension of the real world” in which you interact with a “virtual representation of yourself.” And he will have imagined, according to his ‘faith’ in technology, becoming a character in a video game like Fortnitein a hologram like the ones on the last tour of ABBA or directly in the protagonist the film Avatar. But that’s not the metaverse. That, at most, will be a world within the metaverse.

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If you are more techie, the expression you use to define it is probably “3D rendering of immersive worlds in real time”. But that is not the metaverse either: that is one of the technological processes necessary for its implementation, such as the existence of 5G or Web3; that is, a network with enough power to connect millions of people in real time in three dimensions. Because, if today you are already having difficulty connecting on Zoom, imagine yourself waiting for the avatar…

First clarification: Web3 is a recent term to define the successor to Web 2.0, which aspires to the decentralization of the Internet based on technology blockchain (a database in theory unbreakable because it is hosted on many individual computers) and again software. All of them, requirements of the metaverse. And yes, there are many new concepts, but the key word in all this is ‘convergence’. The metaverse is a shared and collective virtual space, created by the convergence of the Internet and virtual reality technologies in three dimensions. That is, a new Internet.

Many technologies still under construction need to come together for the metaverse to exist; therefore, experts insist on not confusing each of them with the metaverse. Confusing Web3 with the metaverse, explains Matthew Ball – author of the reference book on the subject, the metaverse, which will be published in October in Spain–, «is like confusing industrialization with capitalism. One is technological progress, the other is the social relations derived from it. They coincide in time, but they are not the same.

“The metaverse is a moment in time: a generational change,” says Ball. It requires users who have grown up interacting and buying ‘on-line’ since they access the first iPad. And they are here…

Ball, a technology investor and former director of Amazon, is very cautious when specifying what the metaverse will materialize in, but he is convinced that it will change our lives and gives an ‘ethereal’ definition of the term, which, however, is the most illuminating : «The metaverse is a moment in time; a generational change. For it to exist, you need a generation that has grown up playing and interacting on-line with his friends and buy and sell with real and fictitious currency since he accessed the first iPad when he was still crawling until he reached the world of warcraft on the adolescence.

But that generation is already here. They are millions. And they don’t crawl anymore… Fortniteowned by Epic Games, is the most popular video game in the world, with more than 350 million registered users. Robloxwhich follows it, is visited by 50 million young people every day; Minecraft, of Microsoft, has active 141 million players per month… And the average age is 24 years.

This is not a game

The metaverse is not a game or an alliance of games, but it starts with something… Pac-Man was also the first experience on a computer for most of them. A pioneering ‘vision’ of the metaverse, although today it is a matter of ridicule, was secondlife, but the technology did not accompany. Those who managed to prevail later were those mentioned Minecraft Roblox either Fortnite. The latter, the most successful, began as a game, but quickly became a social network. Your players do not log in to ‘play’ per se, but to be with their friends: virtual and real world. “Adolescents from the 1970s to 2010s would come home and spend three hours on the phone,” Ball explains. Now they talk to their friends on Fortnitebut not about Fortnitebut about their lives. And then they play.

Fortnite, in addition, it allows a ‘creative mode’ that makes it the most advanced protometaverse. The owner of the game, Tim Sweeney, boasts of two values ​​in his company: he does not sell user data and users can create and get paid for their creations (he does not comment so much that 40 percent of his company belongs to the Chinese company Tencent). That is, the user can propose an outfit or avatar design and, if the rest buy it, he receives a percentage for its creation, with which, in fact, he is participating in the construction of the metaverse.

Also, Fortnite is already a habitat where other brands perform, where musicians like Travis Scott or Marshmello give concerts or starwars debuts its trailer. All this with millions of connected users.

Now, since 2020, there are already spaces born specifically for the metaverse, such as Decentraland and Earth 2, which are not games; they are cities or worlds to visit, interact, buy, sell… All very ‘experiential’. What is being done there? Well, as the protagonist of ready player onethe Steven Spielberg film that best represents the metaverse: “Everything, except eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom” (yes, there is 3D sex and it aims to be a ‘three-dimensional’ business).

be understood by interest

The public of the metaverse or, more precisely, its ‘inhabitants’ already exist. But, to build it, elements as difficult to achieve as companies sharing common protocols, a much more powerful data transmission network than the current one (5G is going to fall short) and a substantial improvement in 3D virtual reality are needed. (also solve the problem of the astronomical energy consumption derived from it, hardly compatible with global warming, but that’s another story).

Of course, progress is made very quickly… because there is a lot of money involved. Bringing companies to an agreement seemed impossible when Play Station and Xbox prevented two friends from sharing a game if each had a different console. Fortnitehowever, it already works interchangeably on all major platforms.

3.5 million for a digital parcel? «It can be successful or not, like any business –Martin-Blas de-dramatizes-, but buying plots in the metaverse is like buying domains at the beginning of the Internet»

And it’s not just about entertainment. The metaverse is going to mean a radical change in work, educational and medical environments, with work meetings, classes and medical consultations in 3D. For this reason, Microsoft has invested 70,000 million in the metaverse and is already developing 3D avatars for its Teams program, which they hope will be in common use in two or three years. In many other businesses, such as tourism or real estate, ‘metaverses’ are already used: you recreate a virtual urbanization and allow the buyer to ‘live’ in it before deciding. And not everything is purely commercial: Virtual Voyagers, for example, has developed a virtual reality program to learn public speaking.

an astronomical business

But what’s generating so much excitement among investors is another concept: digital property. And it has been the landing of cryptocurrencies or, more precisely, of the technology that supports them, the blockchain, which represents a substantial change. To this day, Ball explains, “the digital world acts as if it were a shopping center in which each store uses its own currency, its own measurement for sizes and, in addition, requires a different dress to enter.” For the metaverse to materialize, it has to be a ‘real’ economy. “People and businesses will be able to create, own, invest, sell, and be rewarded for ‘work’ that produces ‘value’ recognized by others.”

The key word here is ‘possess’. Until now it is the platforms that determine if a digital object is yours or not and you cannot remove it from that specific space. But with the blockchain and the NFT your property would be guaranteed in any digital space. NFTs –active/tokens non-fungible – they are basically digital certificates of authenticity (like a notarized contract). Those tokens they can be any digital creation: an image, a video, a song or a tweet. But the recent cryptocurrency crash, outrageous scams and unexpected thefts have made it clear that secure encryption is still aspirational. And that, consequently, legal certainty is essential, yet to be defined.

Now, you may be wondering: why buy digital goods? Or maybe you’re even wondering what a digital asset is… Okay, are you a boomer, that scathing expression used to define those over 50 years of age. But you will have seen in your children or young people around you the passion with which they acquire tools and clothing for their digital games; in the same way that they used to ask for stickers of soccer players or dresses for Barbie. The ‘impulse’ is the same.

The recent cryptocurrency crash, outrageous scams and unexpected thefts have shown that secure encryption is still aspirational. And that legal certainty is essential

You will be more surprised that someone paid €3.5 million for a plot of land in Decentraland. A virtual space that only exists on the computer! But have a space cool in that digital world it is guaranteed to attract interesting people, just like it happens in a real city. For example, Rosalía will come to your space to premiere hers new single or, better yet, Rosalía will appear digitally at your home… And that is priceless.

“They may or may not succeed, like any business,” Edgar Martín-Blas, the CEO of Virtual Voyagers, plays down. “But buying plots is just like buying Internet domains at the beginning of the Internet.”

Intimacy ‘besieged’

The biggest concern, however, is the ownership and use of data in the metaverse because 3D reality requires constant scanning of the actual spaces where it occurs: your home, your office, your body… your life. And, yes, it is objectively alarming.

“All this will be regulated because it is a level of knowledge of the user that exceeds all ethics – concedes Martín-Blas-. I highly doubt that scanning your home and your movements is data that can or should be trafficked.” But he acknowledges that governments are far behind reality. “The legislators are still with the web. And the web no longer exists! For years now, more domains have been destroyed than created.”

Martín-Blas does not lose his smile: «I trust the kids a lot. They understand the algorithm, they are even able to hack personalized offers to get free hamburgers. They should not be underestimated. I think there will be things that they accept and things that they don’t. But today it is up to them.”

From them and from the ‘owners’ of the Internet… Because the metaverse will be the new Internet, but the actors will not change. The leading companies on the Internet are among the ten most valuable and powerful on the planet and want to remain so. For this reason, Tim Sweeney – the owner of Epic Games – adventures: «The next few years will be critical for companies that aspire to the metaverse. Whoever first attracts a billion users will set the standards.” There won’t be one owner of the metaverse, but “whoever leads it will lead the world,” Sweeney said. And he said it in 2016, when not even Zuckerberg peeked into the metaverse.