What Exactly Is The Metaverse & Who Is Building It?

16-09-2021
#tech
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In June, Mark Zuckerberg announced to employees what the future of Facebook would be. He outlined a vision where Facebook had transcended being a humble social media company with 2.89 billion users and is now a fully fledged “metaverse company” which is a hell of a mission, a hell of a word and a hell of lot of work for someone, presumably.

He’s not the only person interested in creating a “metaverse”. Epic Games (who made Fortnite and Gears of War apparently, who knew) CEO Tim Sweeney has been dead set on contributing to the metaverse for ages.

But what even is the metaverse and why should you care and why am I now addressing you personally?

Join me as I delve into the metaverse, get most of it wrong but give you some good snippets to tell your friends down the pub to sound like a cool tech CEO.

What is the Metaverse?

Simply put, the Metaverse is an expansive shared virtual space, utilising technology to connect thousands of people in a persistent (meaning it never pauses, refreshes or ends) environment online. Distinct from Augmented or even current iterations of Virtual Reality, it is more expansive than our current world but can/will contain copies and derivatives of the current world.

The term “metaverse” was actually first coined in my favourite genre, sci-fi. 

Neal Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crash” contained references to a “metaverse” where users could take the form of any avatar they want and experience a virtual world in first person.

How is the Metaverse being built?

One key thing to note with the creation of the metaverse is that it won’t happen overnight. You won’t wake up one morning and see Mark Zuckerberg on TV saying “Oi look at this metaverse I made”, firstly because he doesn’t speak like that and secondly because the adoption of the metaverse will be a slow and gradual progress.

Projects like Facebook Horizon and NeosVR are inching humans closer to the Metaverse, although the technology, widespread adoption and unity just isn’t there to make it a true metaverse yet.

The metaverse will most likely be accessed by virtual reality headsets (or whatever VR tech replaces that, contact lenses? Some mad decorative shawl? Don’t be stupid) and decentralised, meaning that is hosted on a community of computers and servers, rather than by one singular company (I’m going to write a blog on the coming decentralisation of the web so look out for that).

Why are people building the Metaverse?

Fuck it, why not?

When will the Metaverse be built?

Like I mentioned before, the creation of the metaverse will not be a singular event, but will be the accumulation of multiple different types of technology, combining to make a singular experience. One thing is for certain : we are on our way. Technologies to keep an eye on for which will most likely comprise key components of the metaverse are

Who is building the Metaverse?

As I said, Facebook are all in on the idea of building a metaverse, starting with their Horizon platform.

Epic Game’s Tim Sweeney is working hard to transition their flagship game, Fortnite, from a game to a platform and then to a metaverse where “all IP can live together, where all kinds of experiences can happen”. If you have a spare 30 minutes, please check out his Twitter for more info on his fight with Apple and the 30% fees they charge for every purchase on the app store.

The company where Neal Stephenson eventually ended up after his stint with Blue Origin, called Magic Leap, are also key players to look out for, although they did lay off 1,000 staff in 2020 and it’s overall value dropped by 93% in 6 months, so you know, not a great sign.

I made a bunch of dots move on my last post, so I’m a dark horse to create one as well.

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