Enter the Metaverse

What was once a sea of isolated assets, protocols, and tools, is quickly evolving into what can only be described as a “Metaverse” — that is, the entirety of digital products, services, and assets that form a sprawling interconnected digital landscape.

Much like the internet of today, the Metaverse is a shared virtual space in which individuals and businesses can interact freely. But it differs in that it’s borne from a combination of novel current-generation technologies, like virtual reality, blockchain, and open technical standards, which when combined, produce an ever-changing and open the virtual world through which many people will spend much of their daily lives.

The term was first coined in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel Snow Crash, where he describes the Metaverse as a virtual reality construct that humans navigate through their digital avatars. Since then, the term has been adopted by innovators, builders, and futurists — many of whom believe that it represents the inevitable next step of the internet.

But while the Metaverse isn’t yet in its final form, many of the technologies that will help it get there are being built today, and the earliest versions of the Metaverse arguably already exist.

The Future of Digital Interactions

While some might consider the Metaverse to be a network of independent applications, much like the internet of today, its potential stretches much farther, and we are only just beginning to scratch the surface of what the Metaverse will consist of in the near future.

Despite the inherent challenges of predicting where an exponentially expanding landscape will end up in the coming years, one thing is for certain — practically every major company and brand will have a presence within the Metaverse. Some of these will play a passive role and simply develop content and experiences that address consumer demand, while others will likely seek to push a particular narrative and stake an early claim on the spoils.

Facebook, with its massive social media platform and range of virtual reality hardware and experiences, squarely fits into the latter category.

With the Facebook Horizon video game, Facebook aims to allow users to explore, play, collaborate, and create within an expansive virtual world. The social media giant also recently unveiled Workrooms, a Horizon update that allows users to bring their physical office into the virtual world to better collaborate.

Facebook isn’t the only one looking to bring the physical world into the Metaverse. Companies like Microsoft and Magic Leap are building headsets that allow users to overlap the Metaverse in the real world through augmented reality, while Microsoft is developing a technology known as ‘holoportion’ — which uses motion capture, augmented reality, and environmental modeling to transport physical objects into the digital space of other users.

But as with many new experiences, the gaming industry is arguably pioneering the development of the Metaverse and has been leading the charge for more than a decade now. Games like Roblox and Fortnite already constitute what many might describe as the earliest stages of a Metaverse — given that they both provide a variety of experiences, many of which are generated by third parties, and allow users to navigate these with a persistent avatar.

Indeed, Roblox recently introduced its ‘Game Fund’ — a new partnership program that provides developers with the capital resources necessary to craft experiences that push the limits of the Roblox sandbox environment. Aiming to be the first to build the next version of the internet, Fortnite, parent company Epic Games recently announced its plans to accelerate the development of the social experiences that surround the game and its other titles — helping to transform its products from simple games to entire thriving ecosystems of content and experiences.

“Fortnite is a game,” tweeted Epic Games CEO and Co-Founder Tim Sweeney in 2019. Before following up with — “But please ask that question again in 12 months.”

With tech juggernauts around the world now pouring billions into the development of the Metaverse, and many of these forming alliances like the XR Association, it may not be long until the Metaverse is just as ubiquitous as the internet is today.

Blockchain and the Metaverse

In the last decade, the disruptive capabilities of blockchain have become increasingly apparent, and the technology has been applied to a multitude of use cases, many of which overlap with the development of the Metaverse.

Some examples include decentralized games, non-fungible assets, peer-to-peer marketplaces, decentralized file storage networks, and decentralized identifiers (DIDs) — each of which can contribute to a persistent digital universe that is free of any controlling powers or overarching narratives.

With blockchain, anybody will be free to contribute to and experience the Metaverse without restrictions. This was arguably first demonstrated by the blockchain-powered virtual landscape known as Decentraland — within which users are free to purchase and use virtual real estate, build custom experiences, and participate in a decentralized economy.

Now, many blockchain applications are likely to have a presence in the Metaverse — particularly those that deal with integrating digital experiences, breaking down boundaries, and empowering individuals and businesses.

As currencies built for the digital age, it makes sense that cryptocurrencies will play a major role in the Metaverse — and will likely be intimately woven into its landscape, with online stores, games, experiences, and services set to leverage their unique properties.

We are already beginning to see the first signs of this, with many pioneers in the Metaverse development space either building their own cryptocurrencies, researching existing options, or already accepting cryptocurrencies for their services. This includes Facebook and its upcoming Diem payment system, and both Twitter and Amazon — which are rumored to be on the verge of accepting cryptocurrency payments.

Thanks to their wide-ranging capabilities, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will almost certainly become one of the foundational technologies powering the Metaverse — and could be one of the ways users stake their claim over its various aspects, whether that be virtual real-estate, domains, digital rights and agreements, and the avatars they use to navigate this space.

Star Atlas is Coming

Every now and then, a company, platform, or project comes along that brings with it a paradigm shift in the way we live, play, and work. Star Atlas, an upcoming exploration and combat game built on the Solana blockchain, is one such example of this.

Star Atlas is designed to combine an expansive space exploration and combat game with a finely crafted internal economy and player-roles dynamic to create a unique experience where gaming, investing, and work are blended into one.

As a massively multiplayer game, players will be able to work together to conquer parts of Star Atlas’ open universe, mine for resources, upgrade their equipment, form alliances, and work together under decentralized autonomous corporations (known as Factions) that help govern the in-game economy. But more than this, because all in-game assets are represented as NFTs, users have complete freedom to buy, sell, trade, and use NFTs as they please — whether it's inside or outside of the Star Atlas ecosystem.

In the true vision of the Metaverse, Star Atlas aims to eventually hand over complete control of the game to the players, and produce a toolkit that allows players and external developers to create their own content and items — which will either form part of the extended Star Atlas universe or part of a new universe for players to explore.

Star Atlas launched its IDO on Paid Network’s Apollo-X platform on August 30, 2021 — during which $496,800 worth of tokens were made available to winning participants. Registration opened on August 29, 2021, and PAID staking is open now.

About Master Ventures

Master Ventures is a blockchain-focused venture studio, helping to build the next generation of blockchain-based Web 3.0 system innovations within the crypto industry. Launched in 2018 by Founder and CEO Kyle Chassé, the company’s ethos can best be summarized in the acronym #BeBOLD: Benevolent, Open, Love, Decentralized.

Master Ventures co-creates with entrepreneurs and businesses worldwide to turn the best ideas into innovative and disruptive products and solutions. They do this by investing as strategic partners through offering advisory services to the projects they believe in. To date, Master Ventures has invested in over 40 crypto projects including the likes of Kraken, Coinbase, Bitfinex, Reef, DAO Maker, Mantra DAO, Thorchain, and Elrond.

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