There are several possible benefits to the advent of metaverses and cons.
What is the Metaverse?
Metaverses are massive online spaces powered by virtual reality in which people would be able to engage in a wide range of activities, such as playing games, interacting with other users with unique avatars, and possibly working. Additionally, these platforms would have their own economies and would need mediums of exchange to function, which is a need cryptocurrencies could fill.
This idea is nothing new, and readers may have already used these platforms or ones that are similar. A current example of a metaverse in action is Decentraland, where users can buy virtual land and develop it in any way they see fit.
Games like Star Trek Online operate on a similar concept, except the game is not played in a virtual environment but on a screen. However, users can interact with one another’s avatars (Human, Klingon, Romulan, Borg, etc.), and it has a virtual economy where users can trade items, buy and modify starships, and use mediums of exchange like “gold-pressed latinum.”
There are also metaverses in fiction. One of the most recent examples is the 2009 dystopian film Gamer, in which there is a game called “Society” where users control real people in a semi-virtual environment and can do with them as they please. I won’t go into more detail than that, but you’ll get the idea if you use your imagination.
The Advantages of the Metaverse
People in the real-world need mediums of exchange like dollars and cryptocurrency to buy essential and non-essential goods and services, so why would a metaverse be any different? Decentraland and Sandbox are already powered by cryptocurrencies people use to build and monetize virtual structures.
Metaverses would not necessarily be limited to casinos and gambling. Theoretically, there is no limit to what a person could create on a metaverse. A developer could create and publish fully immersive games, exhibits of virtual art, and countless other things that could be monetized. Cryptocurrencies would be needed as the medium of exchange to access these platforms, which would increase demand for them, resulting in their value increasing even further.
If people can play on the metaverse, it stands to reason they can work in it too. So why not create virtual offices? In these virtual offices, you could collaborate with people thousands of miles away on any number of projects. And, like offices in the real world, they would have to be paid for, and what else could you use but cryptocurrency as payment?
Metaverses could increase demand for non-fungible tokens (NFT), as well. For example, Mr. Eli Tan on Coinbase recently published an article in which he stated that the NFT for a $900,000 virtual estate was sold on Decentraland.
The Disadvantages of the Metaverse
For every advantage, there is a drawback. Mark Zuckerberg’s intention to create a metaverse should raise concerns among people worried about his company’s monopoly power over social media.
Considering how Zuckerberg has already engaged in anti-competitive conduct by acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp, what is to prevent him from doing the same with other metaverses until his company has a monopoly over that too?
The danger herein for cryptocurrency investors and developers is that Facebook is developing its own cryptocurrency called Diem. There is nothing to prevent Zuckerberg and company from forcing other coins and tokens off of their platform so that users have no choice but to use Diem. They may allow users to use alternative coins and tokens, but they could charge high fees to discourage their usage.
The other disadvantage of metaverses is that they could further retard the ability of people to interact with one another in meaningful ways. The internet and social media have already done a great deal of damage to society by making discourse more coarse and vulgar than it was even 20 years ago. It has also resulted in reduced attention spans, social media addiction, and other adverse consequences. Turning the internet and social media into a virtual reality playground could further exacerbate these problems.
Metaverses have the potential to create an environment in which people can recreate in an infinite amount of ways, and cryptocurrency developers and investors stand to benefit because these mediums of exchange are needed to power these virtual economies. However, the aforementioned cons should give everyone, users, investors, and developers alike, reasons to be overly cautious about participating in this new world.