The five checks to create the true metaverse
Ask Aragorn Meulendijks for the definition of "the metaverse," and he'll start laughing. It is impossible to explain the concept so that you can grasp all its possibilities.
In its simplest version, the metaverse is a convergence of technologies that individually have the potential to create a disruption in how people interact with each other and the world. It doesn't necessarily have to be 3D.
The Dutchman says.
Aragorn is CMO at Your Open Metaverse, a spinoff from Beemup that will take the metaverse to the next level. 'Initiatives like Decentraland or Sandbox and companies like Meta claim to have a metaverse, but I think that's nonsense. There are five reasons why I don't think that's the case yet,' Aragorn explains.
Everything is connected
'An important aspect in the metaverse is interoperability. It sounds complex, but the metaverse is made up of different spaces like Sandbox or Horizon Worlds that we might describe as "metagalaxies." In the future, these are all interconnected so that you can frictionlessly take things from one galaxy to another. In the real world, it works the same way: I can get into my car and drive from Utrecht to Ghent without any problems. I don't have to show a passport or change my currency. We even speak the same language, even though we live in different countries. That is the essence of what the metaverse should be, but virtually. There is friction on the Internet as we know it today: you have to log in again and again, create a profile, different rules apply everywhere, and you don't pay with the same currency on every site.'
That includes the platforms that people now consider a metaverse: Roblox has Robux, for example, and in Fortnite, you pay with V-Bucks. Those who buy a virtual outfit in one space can rarely wear it in another. In the real world, of course, you can wear your coat wherever and whenever you want.
When it comes to the metaverse, there are links with Web 3.0. This decentralization was not always a core principle of the metaverse, but it has now become so. For example, to realize this interoperability, you need a wallet to take with you anywhere. Mark Zuckerberg wants to create his currency within Meta that you can use on the Meta platform, but in my opinion, that goes against what the metaverse stands for, says Aragorn.
If a tree falls in a forest, and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? It's an excellent philosophical question, and it also applies to the metaverse.
Persistency is an important factor. Just as the corner café is there when you're not, the metaverse is not a Zoom call that stops when you're away.
For brands, the metaverse is a golden opportunity. 'It's becoming a community-driven world in which we co-create. Brands will work much more directly with their community on the experiences they want to build.'
The current NFT boom is an example, although it makes Aragorn sceptical. There is now artificial scarcity, but that is essentially complete nonsense because we have no limitations in a virtual world. Elon Musk recently said in a TED talk: in the future, the only scarcity man will know is the one we create ourselves. In the metaverse, abundance reigns. Should we transport archaic concepts like real estate to the virtual world? I think very different concepts will emerge there that we can't imagine yet, just as when the mobile Internet came into being, we had no idea what was in store for us.'
Be the change
Anyone who hears Aragorn talk will quickly notice that many current metaverse projects don't pass his checks. There is still work to be done - and fortunately, he can help. Your Open Metaverse focuses on the necessary interoperability. 'Just as you have to connect to sewers and electricity when you build a house, we provide a similar grid in the metaverse. Every "metagalaxy" connected to our platform is directly connected to the others. So you have frictionless interoperability from day one. Just as you have hyperlinks on the Internet that connect everything, we ensure that virtual assets can be present in other places.'
The roadmap of Your Open Metaverse looks ambitious. Aragorn: 'We are currently working with three big brands to offer the first experiences within 12 to 24 months. For many people, this is a long way off, but at the same time, children are in a virtual world every day with a virtual avatar, paying with virtual currencies. The metaverse is a very intuitive next step in their lives. So it's coming anyway. Either we give that opportunity to the Metas of this world and sell our souls and privacy, or we all create a better alternative. We can form a counter-movement and reclaim that industry and our autonomy.'