It seems that, just like in fashion, some creations are too good to be put at rest and eventually, make a comeback. This may be what we are experiencing with Metaverse, to certain extends. Although the application of Metaverse is still not that clear, the impression remains that the world has jumped onto that ride to virtual worlds.  

Let’s clear few points to begin with. No, we do not need a VR headset to enter a Metaverse experience. All you need is a laptop or a smartphone to access the virtual space and interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. Basically, you create your 3D character, get a crypto wallet, and you are all set to begin. For older readers, this may will ring a bell…

In 2003, a San-Francisco firm by the name of Linden Lab created an online multimedia platform that allows people to create an avatar for themselves and access an online virtual world named “Second Life”. The game was a place for escapism where users would visit the 3D world for no other reason than that it was somewhere else to be.  It has it’s own currency (Linden Dollars) that converts in real currency. Curiously, besides what appears to be striking similarities, Second Life never took off like the Metaverse – a market evaluated at 426 billion by 2027. Why?

Second Life rapidly became a place with ownership rights and as early as 2006, he online platform saw an influx of real-world companies pushing promotions and advertising into the virtual space. You could exchange linden for dollars, leading to fluctuations in value, as well as other virtual currencies. By the early 2010s, it was being used to exchange for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, a scheme some charged could facilitate money laundering. By this time, much of the speculator frenzy had died down, as did media attention toward the platform.

Second Life’s scope and scale has always been considerably narrower than the current hype for a metaverse. Where Second Life proposed an alternative reality for its users, the metaverse is a road map to enclose both the virtual andactual worlds.

If you have followed the evolution of AR and VR in the past 10 years, you will know that the number of companies in the field have multiplied exponentially. Meta acquired alone a number of virtual and augmented reality companies to supplement its 2014 acquisition of virtual reality headset producer Oculus, and integrate its Oculus products with Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. This allows users already familiar with or reliant on the company’s services to become associated with the metaverse before they even see the 3D version of it. The context was completely different when Second Life was launched, almost 20 years ago.

In conclusion, the metaverse seems to be a natural response to what we as consumers have been asking of the market – but it is still at the early stage of its exploration. We still need time to draw a proper portrait of the situation.