Metaverse technologies are inescapable in today’s markets. JP Morgan recently described the metaverse as “a seamless convergence of our physical and digital lives, creating an unified, virtual community where we can work, play, relax, transact and socialize.” Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is one very reason metaverses have been in the spotlight. Meta is just one company that has embraced virtual reality as a future technology by offering users access to the metaverse, particularly their metaverse, Horizon World. Despite the term’s growing popularity in the media, many people are unaware about what a “metaverse” actually is. According to Oxford Languages, Google’s English Dictionary, a metaverse is a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. Mark Zuckerberg described Metaverse as the next iteration of the mobile web. The metaverse and blockchain technology are the fuel behind the term Web3, which many believe to be the evolution of today’s internet.
Metaverses are not a new technology. In fact, they date back approximately 30 years. Today’s popularity is largely based upon new blockchain technology that has enabled the development of decentralized metaverses. Traditionally, metaverses were built and controlled by a single entity—examples of prominent centralized metaverses are Roblox and Meta’s Horizon World—whereas today metaverses such as Decentraland or Portals are built on blockchains such as Ethereum or Solana. Blockchains utilize a smart contract to record transactions in the metaverse, thereby recording in a concrete ledger the transactions that unfold in the metaverse on the respective blockchain. Smart contracts are computer programs (collection of codes) stored on a blockchain that run when predetermined conditions are met. They typically are used to automate the execution of an agreement so that all can be immediately certain of the outcome, without any intermediary’s involvement or time loss.) The Decentraland whitepaper describes their metaverse as a decentralized community with no single agent with the power to modify the rules of the software, contents of land, economics of the currency, or prevent others from accessing the world. Moreover, recent enhancements in virtual reality and augmented reality have brought these metaverses to life. The Oculus virtual reality headset transports users into a three-dimensional metaverse.