It’s not going to be one big metaverse, so how is this going to work?

The word metaverse gets thrown around a lot lately, hasn’t it? I suspect everybody has something a little different in mind when they think about it. Since a lot of the news is around Meta/Facebook, I would guess people think “Facebook, but VR”. Meaning there is one monolithic thing, you strap that shit on your face, and you go to there. Ready Player One style.

Say VR really does become the thing with Facebook-level time-on-site. I can’t see it, but I’m old and usually wrong. But say it gets there and it’s One Big Place, and Meta has their One Big Place. Other big tech players will not share that place. They will have their own One Big Place. Google and Meta aren’t going to work together to build a shared space. I’m old and usually wrong but not about that. You’ll strap that shit on your face and you’ll go to one or the other. So now there are at least two metaverses, say.

As soon as there is more than one, it gets weird to me. As bizarre as it may seem, I actually get VR/metaverse “real estate”. That is, buying some “space” inside the world that you own/control, but it’s literally only interesting if it’s part of a metaverse that is used by everyone (or at least a significant group) and it’s around for the long haul. You need the real estate so you can do things that might turn out to matter according to the rules of this metaverse. Like having space to hang out that is protected/exclusive. Like a place to keep your stuff. Like projecting a visual status symbol. Who knows.

If you can spin up your own metaverse and that’s where you spend your time, then real estate is stupid. The whole thing is yours. Minecraft attempts to prove me wrong right out of the gate here as loads of people spin up their own servers and spend ages on virtual real estate, but I still feel like that’s niche behavior, not regular lifestyle behavior like metaverses predict.

Real estate is just one example, but it is representative of anything that requires an investment of resources. It maps to players getting in on an upcoming MMORPG. Usually, there is some alpha period. That is sort of desirable for fans that want an early look. But alpha typically designates that the servers will be wiped before beta, so everyone needs to start over. Beta might even wipe before public release. Most potential players are like meh, I’ll wait. Not because they aren’t excited or even because they are worried about bugs, but because the idea of spending a bunch of personal resources leveling up on a long-term game only to have it all wiped away feels like a waste.

More likely, there will be lots of Metaverses. Lots of companies vying to be the one that you choose to spend your time and money inside of. I think if any of them want to have any success at all, they’ll need to clearly and publicly say “This is our metaverse. It is the only one. It may grow and change, but it will be your metaverse as long as we exist.”

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