Metaverse: the 4 misconceptions about the virtual world

Are you thinking of jumping into the metaverse with your business? According to Thibault Launay, co-founder and CEO of Exclusible, we must first distinguish reality from enthusiasm.

What is the metaverse? Its definition can be radically different depending on the person. For older generations, even a Zoom call could be considered “metaverse”.

The most common answer to this question evokes a kind of wonderland in virtual reality, and that constitutes the next great revolution. This is the new dream that Meta / Facebook has spent $ 10 billion for to restore its image and conceptualize its metaverse. However, companies clearly misunderstand this nascent digital space, even in its definition.

After studying more than 100 different metaverses currently on the market, I have limited myself to four very concrete misconceptions that newcomers need to know about these virtual worlds.

Like many new frontiers, the metaverse infrastructure is still under construction. The virtual world is a work in progress. It is only accessible to first users, mainly tech professionals and gamers.

Even the hardware needed for a smooth experience is held back by accessibility barriers, including the requirement for high-end graphics cards and computer processors. All of these remain held back by a disrupted global supply chain.

The very first fashion week in the metaverse started with a bang, but not without flaws. In particular, some users have reported that the experience is “very slow, confusing or not working at all”.

The average individual doesn’t necessarily have a gaming computer or the minimum bandwidth needed to run these virtual worlds. Therefore, most people find themselves limited in their ability to actually exploit the metaverse as it currently exists.

Now let’s take a look at other monumental changes that have taken place on the internet. It was only when smartphone ownership overtook traditional cell phones that social media usage really took off. Nor would it have been possible without the integrated cameras that rival digital cameras, nor without the expansion of the mobile data network.

Of course, the metaverse is here and it gets better every day. But it just doesn’t exist in a meaningful way that already touches the mainstream.

Misconception No. 2: All companies lose if they don’t join the metaverse

As a preface, there is no doubt that companies can lose their space in the metaverse if they don’t act quickly. However, the extent to which industries should join this universe and start advertising their products on billboards in the virtual world is limited.

These sectors, at least at the moment, include technology, games, the entertainment industry, and crypto domains. Remember, this is more than the demographics that have the equipment to access most of these metaverses.

The companies that have contacted us and who want to market their products in the metaverse are very different, from fashion houses to insurance companies. We cannot guarantee that active users of virtual worlds will seek advantageous rates for their auto insurance. However, industries such as fashion find themselves particularly suited to this space, as avatars need clothing and accessories to express themselves.

As metaverses evolve, new use cases will pave the way for others. However, for now, you can safely rely on “fun” sectors such as games, art and fashion or real estate to dominate the space.

Companies reluctant to join the metaverse can be open but skeptical. There is no need to enter the virtual world until there is a clear path to follow, with tangible goals capable of achieving business goals.

Myth No. 3: the virtual world is a 4D video game

For starters, there are currently hundreds of metaverses, each of which caters to different people. Many virtual worlds today have gameplay elements, but that doesn’t mean that metaverses are developed with gamers in mind.

For example, The Sandbox features more traditional game mechanics in a pixel art style. It is clearly aimed at people who are familiar with video games. On the other hand, Spatial is graphically more advanced and aesthetically focused. It is perfect for digital art galleries and other events that require high quality graphics.

For the more game-centric metaverses, their main difference from traditional video games is ownership. In a video game with its own currency, everything you buy and own is related to the game and for online games, if the developer decides to shut down the servers, the game items you have these disappear.

This is contrary to the idea of ​​true digital ownership. Digital assets must be preserved forever, as they are registered on the blockchain, which is part of the core ethics of Web3. This is still a real problem for the metaverse and could pose problems for companies trying to sell a product.

Myth No. 4: The Metaverse aims to replace reality and will ruin our future

As with any emerging new technology in the cultural zeitgeist, there is a lot to be said about the alarmist attitude of the media about the impact of the metaverse on our children’s future. The idea received would be that they would allow themselves to be sucked into digital worlds at the expense of their real life and withdraw from the world around them.

This is not to say that excessive use of the internet is not a problem. Young people are more depressed than ever and the time spent in front of the screen only exacerbates the problem. However, the media may be on the wrong destination.

Generation Z lives its formative years against the backdrop of extreme historical events. These include weather events due to climate change, the withdrawal of human rights, international wars, rising income inequality, the housing crisis and subsequent pandemics. Is it any wonder that escaping to the internet helps them resist?

Ultimately, the metaverse does not present itself as a new iteration, but as an update of the current Internet. It is very similar to social networks and other aspects of the internet that allow everyone to express themselves. Participation in the metaverse is simply an extension of our reality.

As a recent VRchat documentary shows, there are already use cases for the metaverse to improve the lives of its users. Even in its most primitive form, the cornerstone of the virtual world is providing a new way for people to connect with each other.

For now, it might look like the Wild West. It will be up to developers and users to ensure that they shape our ideal metaverse with rules and a culture that protects and elevates its users and future generations.

Review your approach to the metaverse

Web3 startups continue to build on existing experiences in the metaverse. There is no doubt that both progressive and traditional companies want to take advantage of this new initiative and gain an advantage by entering the virtual world.

However, to fully exploit its potential, companies need to reevaluate their strategy and question the reasons for joining the metaverse. Are you looking to meet users where they are and improve their virtual experience, or are you joining this project just for the excitement it generates?

About the author

Thibault Launay is co-founder and CEO of Exclusible, the luxury industry reference platform for metaverse and NFT businesses. Serial entrepreneur and angel investor in various sectors, he is a member of the hedge fund NFT Blackpool, a consultant to OVR.ai and a well-known collector of NFTs and vintage physical watches.

Thibault is a former student of Paris Dauphine University, Harvard Business School and the Forbes 30 Under 30 association.

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