Metaverse is a portmanteau of "meta" (meaning beyond) and "universe," typically used to describe virtual spaces within digital environments such as online games, social media, and virtual reality.
Although there is no universally accepted definition of the "metaverse," many see it as a future iteration of the internet, where users interact in persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.
The metaverse was described by venture capitalist Matthew Ball, author of the Metaverse Primer:
The Metaverse is an expansive network of persistent, real-time rendered 3D worlds and simulations that support continuity of identity, objects, history, payments, and entitlements, and can be experienced synchronously by an effectively unlimited number of users, each with an individual sense of presence
Facebook describes the metaverse as:
a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.
Although there are many examples of metaverse-like systems within science fiction media, the term was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. In Snow Crash, the metaverse referred to a virtual 3D world inhabited by avatars of real people.
The concept surged in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic as lockdown measures and social distancing policies shifted more of people's lives online, for both business and pleasure.
While the metaverse is often discussed as an aspirational term for the future digital world, common metaverse features include the following:
- Features overlapping with older web services or real-world activities
- Real-time 3D computer graphics and personalized avatars
- Person-to-person interactions that are more social and less competitive and goal-oriented typical games
- Support for users to create their own virtual items and environments
- Links to outside economic systems such that people can profit from virtual goods
- Designs that are well-suited to virtual and augmented reality headsets, even if they usually support other hardware as well
- Blockchain technology incorporation through the use of cryptocurrency and NFTs.
Games such as Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft, and Animal Crossing arguably contain metaverse properties due to their large player bases, detailed and immersive worlds, and user-generated content. Fortnite has expanded into other forms of entertainment, with 12.3 million people watching a concert by rapper Travis Scott in-game in April 2020. Fortnite's owner, Epic Games, stated in April 2021 that $1 billion of funding would be used to support its "vision for the metaverse."
Facebook is working towards the metaverse with its virtual reality social media platform, Horizon.In September 2021, Facebook announced the XR Programs and Research Fund. A two-year $50 million investment collaborating with industry partners, civil rights groups, governments, nonprofits, and academic institutions to determine how to build metaverse technologies responsibly.
In an interview in July 2021, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that over the next several years,
we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.
In October 2021 announced plans to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to develop the metaverse.
On October 28th, 2021, at the company's Connect event, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the new name of its holding company will be Meta. Zuckerberg stated
I believe the metaverse is the next chapter for the internet and it's the next chapter for our company too ... today we are seen as a social media company, but in our DNA we are a company that builds technology to connect people and the metaverse is the next frontier.
From now on, we’re going to be the metaverse first. Not Facebook first
At the same event CTO Andrew Bosworth announced the Oculus Quest product line will become the Meta Quest line, and the Oculus App will be called the Meta Quest App.
In addition to an expansion beyond the boundaries of physical reality, the metaverse could also create new opportunities in sports and entertainment thanks to the interactions that can be achieved.
In this regard, Simon Powell, an analyst at Jefferies, also expressed himself on the metaverse in The Digitization of Everything, as follows:
“A single metaverse may be more than a decade away, but as it evolves it has the potential to interrupt almost everything in human life that hasn't been interrupted yet. [..] The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of various technologies. Many people have been forced to spend even more of their lives online, from socializing to work, from education to entertainment. This shift towards an online world will continue "
'The Metaverse Primer' -- MatthewBall.vc
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Building the Metaverse Responsibly - About Facebook
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Facebook plans to change company name to focus on the metaverse
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Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to work on metaverse
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