Identifying the Gap
Metaverse is no longer just science fiction, it has evolved into a disruptive technology, offering new opportunities for creators, gamers, artists and the masses.
Blockchain is crucial to the metaverse for the simple reason that in the real world, unless you are a celebrity or popular influencer, your identity is probably less likely to be copied and stolen. Even if someone steals your ID or identity card, when you stand in front of your family and friends, they will still recognize the real you. But this is not the case in the metaverse.
To put it simply, the decentralised metaverse is like logging into a large online game where your doppelganger "exists" on your behalf. If someone steals your doppelganger, your appearance, voice, and expression in the metaverse will be stolen.
Blockchain technology can ensure that every "existence" in the virtual world is private, unique and cannot be easily duplicated. Because conceptually blockchain is a decentralized way to make these data untamperable through collective authentication, it is widely favored by the financial sector and is actually used in back-end transaction clearing.
Currently, the world was introduced to Non-fungible tokens (or NFTs) as a way for creators and companies to monetise their designs in the form of GIF, JPEG, or PNG. It is proven that although images could be freely downloaded by anyone in the world wide web, the ownership of these NFT artworks are secured and legitimised by the underlying blockchain technology. However, with the transition from Web2.0 to Web3.0, NFTs could play a crucial role in the decentralised metaverse, beyond just artworks. With consistent upgrades to existing NFT standards, NFTs will be able to represent digital identities of every individual in the open metaverse, and other intricate aspects of virtual worlds.
The emphasis on decentralized blockchain technology, in the face of tech giants who want to control everything, is destined to merge with the metaverse, eventually creating an open metaverse ecosystem in which individuals could have maximal ownership over their digital assets.
We can use a question to knock on the door of this dialectic, do you think governments will allow people of all countries to use the metaverse?
Our idea was born from the emerging NFT adoption, and the market need to enable virtual assets used in the open metaverse, to be freely transferable across these virtual worlds.
On a grander scale, we do foresee virtual worlds being built on multiple blockchains and reitio will be deploying smart contracts on popular infrastructures such as Ethereum, BSC, Fantom and more as we work to expand further.
We do identify several challenges pertaining to metaverse commerce, as explained in the following section.
2.1 Lack of Interoperability Across Metaverse
Before the introduction of the metaverse, digital connectivity was perceived as a series of disparate, standalone digital experiences2. Unfortunately, that is where we are now as an interoperable digital-physical hybrid universe is yet to be realised.
Even with the growing attention of development in the virtual realm, current metaverse platforms are disjointed, comprising thousands of individual experiences requiring a separate account, avatar, hardware, or payment infrastructure as the entry price.
Because of the lack of openness, moving virtual worlds from one platform to the next is a challenge. This contrasts with the internet’s vision of allowing users to communicate seamlessly among themselves. An open metaverse is one that allows users to seamlessly transfer their virtual assets from one platform to another without challenges.
For metaverse and the entire web 3.0 to become a reality, different blockchains must interact with one another. This is not the case with current decentralised platforms because individual Blockchains cannot communicate properly with each other despite the technology being conceived with decentralisation in mind.
Therefore, the vision of interoperable metaverse assets rests on many functionalities, such as the ability to seamlessly integrate with existing networks and initiate transactions on other systems. The platform must also undertake transactions with other chains by integrating applications and simplifying the switch from one platform to another.
2 “The Metaverse Isn’t Just Gaming Worlds,” The Drum, accessed September 12, 2021, thedrum.com/profile/admix/news/the-metaverse-isnt-just-gaming-worlds.
2.2 Deployment Incompatibility of Virtual Assets across the Metaverse
An ideal metaverse is one that resembles the physical world. For example, when bodies move between locations in a physical world, their identities also travel alongside them without problems. The movement also includes assets and possessions that can seamlessly get transferred from one place to another.
This continuity in the physical world that keeps users and their assets intact during transit should be experienced in the metaverse. In this regard, a metaverse should integrate various virtual worlds to facilitate socio-cultural interaction, like the case with the real world.
While millions of virtual assets exist worldwide, there is a lack of a framework to integrate these assets, let alone millions of users who want to participate in a shared, persistent, and synchronous experience.
To achieve these experiences, the metaverse requires an environment with deployment compatibility across the ecosystem. Such an environment is necessary to create shared and persistent connections where users get updated in near real-time and with enhanced accuracies.
2.3 Absence of Virtual Asset Data Aggregation
Presently, there is an absence of data analytical support for users in NFT and decentralized virtual world marketplaces. Therefore, users are unable to gain access to critical information such as the history of global floor prices and sales numbers for various virtual items that assist them in forecasting the future direction of such items in the metaverse.
Without aggregated datasets, consumer behavioural data such as items purchasing activities, user traffic, and virtual assets preferences are not readily available for parties such as advertisers, thus impeding the optimization of marketing initiatives on the marketplace. At reitio, we believe that any users can leverage the platform’s data aggregation capability for predictive analysis in streamlining market research and make informed decisions for marketplace activities which optimizes their experience with virtual worlds across the metaverse.
2.4 Inaccessibility to Straightforward Virtual Asset Creation process
Virtual assets offer the prospect of a trustless economy where people can transfer value between accounts, and it is gaining massive attention from both retail and institutional investors alike.
In June 2021, a virtual plot of real estate on Decentraland sold for more than US$ 913,0003. This figure is the average price of a real-world house in expensive cities such as Brooklyn in New York. Earlier that year, The Sandbox recorded a virtual land sale worth nearly US$ 2 million, becoming the largest sale of virtual real estate in history.
In most of today’s decentralised metaverse, these NFTs are perceived as proprietary and exclusive. Many creators have flocked into the NFT markets with innovative and more often creative artwork series such as Bored Ape Yacht Club and Cryptopunks.
However, as the open metaverse is gaining a strong foothold in the blockchain ecosystem, there is a growing consensus of NFTs being minted to represent more complex assets in virtual worlds, beyond what the market has seen in Decentraland or The Sandbox.
Unfortunately, virtual asset creation tools are sparse and uncommon. In order to build complex virtual assets such as a custom monument on a plot of land in Decentraland, it will require a certain level of design and coding expertise. This reality has blocked out the customisation feature to the majority of users in the open metaverse.
Further, existing creation tools are not designed to facilitate the generation of complex metaverse assets that could be deployed across virtual worlds powered by different blockchain infrastructures.
3 “Digital Land in Decentraland Sells for $913K… to a Virtual Property Developer,” Cointelegraph, accessed September 12, 2021, cointelegraph.com/news/digital-land-in-decentraland-sells-for-913k-to-a- virtual-property-developer
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