The Metaverse Explained Part 1: An Inside Look
This is the first of a four-part series exploring the concept of the Metaverse. Authored by Loup Ventures analyst Pat Bocchicchio, Part 1 explains what the Metaverse is and paints a picture of what it could be like to experience for yourself.
This note may seem like Ready Player One fan-fiction, which is the reason why we think it’s important to write about the Metaverse. Over the past 100 years, every tech communication trend was met with understandable apprehension (radio, TV, Internet, social media). Our best guess is we are 10 years away from a time where a virtual world similar yet very different from our own becomes an integral part in the future of work, play, and communication.
The Metaverse Introduction
After seeing Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One last March we couldn’t help but get excited about the possibilities of what the real version of the OASIS would be like. For those who haven’t seen the movie or read the book it was based on, the OASIS is a virtual reality (VR) universe where the people of 2045 spend much of their day doing pretty much everything except eating, sleeping and using the restroom. Watch this clip from Ready Player One introducing the OASIS for context. The OASIS is what people call a Metaverse, and neither we nor Steven Spielberg think we’ll have to wait until 2045 for our own version of a Metaverse, a place where the limits of reality are your own imagination.
In our recent note titled Is VR Dead or Just Getting Started? we mentioned the Metaverse as one of our five reasons for optimism over the next five years in VR. We believe the Metaverse will be VR’s killer app, similar to Wii Sports for the Wii or VisiCalc for the Apple II. But the goal of this four-part series on the Metaverse is to show why this virtual universe will be much more than just a killer app. It has the potential to be one of the most impactful technological developments for the future of humanity. Virtual reality is a tool that allows infinite simulation, and the Metaverse will be the massive online multiplayer world where the power of VR is unleashed.
Before we outline why this is an important part of the future of work, retail, communication, play, and experience, we want to illustrate what a visit to the Metaverse might be like to help you imagine its nearly limitless possibilities.
Take a Step into the Metaverse
This is a subtle but important part. Take a moment and look closely at this artist rendition of the Metaverse from Linden Labs’ Project Sansar.
Note this is not just another city. Gravity-defying structures cross the purple-blue skyline. Now imagine if you were in the shoes of one of those well-dressed characters on the glassy stone road. Imagine this skyline from their point of view. You look down, see your hands and feet then look up at the metropolis you are about to enter. This does not feel like a video game – it feels real. With each step forward, the skyscrapers get taller, the lights get brighter, and you begin to hear the ambient sound of a city. An orchestral version of Avicii’s “The Nights” begins to play in the background, and a massive hologram appears on the horizon welcoming you in. Imagine what is going on in this city that is limited only by the imagination of its creators and inhabitants. Once you pass through the city gates, it may feel like you’ve entered a place where every street feels like Time Square unbound by the laws of physics and/or energy costs. You likely feel a need to explore.
What Can You Do in the Metaverse?
Standing just past the city gate, your best friend who lives halfway across the real world appears by your side not only looking like but having the superpowers of Iron Man. You decide what to do today. Options include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Catching an esports tournament at the NextVR arena that looks like Madison Square Garden
- Shopping for both digital and real-world clothes at the Amazon Mall
- Taking a free course about Metaverse development at the Ludis learning center
- Catching up on work from the real world at your Virtuos virtual desk that has 4 monitors
- Join a home run derby contest taking place in the old Yankee Stadium
- Skydive from the top of the world’s tallest ferris wheel
Name almost anything, and it’s possible in the Metaverse. You and your friend decide to head to the home run derby contest sponsored by Major League Baseball and place in the top 5% of 20,000 contestants earning you a decent amount of Metaverse cryptocurrency called M-Coin or just “Coin” that can also be used in the real world. Your friend likes to spend as if they were Iron Man too, so the two of you teleport to a Metaverse Amazon Mall that makes the Dubai Mall in the Burj Khalifa look small.
In the Metaverse, customizing your character’s appearance and abilities is one of the most popular activities and a significant amount of Coin is spent on it every day. Present-day games like Fortnite and VR Chat have shown just how powerful and lucrative showing off to others with new in-game attire and items can be. Even in the 2-hour Ready Player One film, Warner Brothers took the time to license 100+ different pop-culture characters for the OASIS’ depiction of the Metaverse demographics.
In addition to dressing and customizing your character, you can shop for real-world items in the Amazon Mall. Everything from furniture or new haptic gear, to a pair of shoes or a pizza can be purchased from virtual retail stores. Think of it as a more natural version of online shopping. Companies in all industries, but especially retail, will have these virtual stores in the Metaverse and will be competing for prime retail space in the premier worlds with the most traffic. In Part III of the Metaverse Explained Series, we will talk more about how the Metaverse economy could work and how it will incentivize development of the Metaverse like capitalism does in the real world.
After a day of fun, you and your friend decide to head back to your virtual home and watch Star Wars: Episode XVI on Netflix. You decorated your Metaverse apartment to look just like your real-world home, with a few tweaks like the 80 inch TV you’ve always wanted. Your friend, who bought the apartment right next to yours, is saving up Coin to buy a mansion that looks like Tony Stark’s in Iron Man 3 overlooking the Metaverse Harbor. In the not too distant future, the incentives to earn and spend in the Metaverse will matter just as much if not more than the real world as advanced neurohaptic VR creates a virtual experience indistinguishable from a “real” one, if we are, in fact, not living in a simulation already.
In Part II, we’ll discuss why the Metaverse matters and why it will be hugely important to the future of society.
Part I: Metaverse Overview & Tour
Part II: Why the Metaverse Matters
Part III: Metaverse Economics
Part IV: Metaverse Challenges
Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest or may invest: virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and robotics. From time to time, we may write about companies that are in our portfolio. As managers of the portfolio, we may earn carried interest, management fees or other compensation from such portfolio. Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making any investment decisions and provided solely for informational purposes. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections and the content on this site should not be relied upon. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.