The concept of Metaverse has been around since the 1980s, but it’s only in recent years that we’ve seen hundreds of projects hit the scene. What we are currently experiencing are gamified worlds with limited integration and engagement capabilities. Right now, the Metaverse is still a blank canvas for early adopters to test out and entertain the concept. However, when we envision the future of engagement in the metaverse and bridge the gaps between the physical and digital worlds, we must push the boundaries and go beyond what is currently considered a metaverse. Let’s start by looking at the leaders who have begun building the next Internet, which promises to be powerful for commerce, engagement, and entertainment.
For the metaverse to succeed and become a regular tool used in people’s daily lives, it must allow users to engage with it. As a sci-fi concept or in the gaming world, metaverses sound fantastic. But, for them to thrive as a social and business tool, we need to ensure that there is a layer of utility or incentives that keeps users engaged. Web3 powered technology has an important role to play in helping advance the concept and idea of the metaverse through blockchain technology, non-fungible tokens (NFT), extended reality (XR), artificial intelligence (AI) and much more. Metaverses that showcase bespoke functionality, cater to their customers and industry of choice, and create new avenues of virtual engagement will find the most value in a Metaverse-as-a-Service (MaaS) offering. It will allow its users to customize their own cities from A to Z and will be the basis of the next Internet.
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So what is MaaS? It’s a service model where brands can define their spaces as they want them to be. A MaaS platform allows others to create digital locations that meet the unique needs of each of its users, regardless of how they look. For the Metaverse to succeed as a practical concept, MaaS solutions will be essential. Here’s why.
Each metaverse has different requirements
Everyone has a point of view or a vision of what the metaverse could be or become, whether it’s a gamified world or an access point to Web3. Users want the ability to define space and shape it into a platform that reflects even the most vivid imaginations. A world where users can connect with their favorite musical or visual artists will be very different from a world designed to interact with sports fans. While Web3 serves as a common thread through the many metaverses, the idea is to use decentralization to ensure that each is unique and serves different purposes. One size is not what the metaverse is or should be. With MaaS, personalization will be critical and in the hands of creators. An esports metaverse dome will rely more on team branding and gamified tokenization, while an artist may want to create an event space to host virtual concerts.
Each metaverse has different requirements depending on the industry and the layer of engagement they plan to enable with the end user. A metaverse is a place where brands can expand their fan bases and build communities as an added layer of engagement. So not only will the elements be different, but the branding in the metaverse will also need to be different. As more brands choose to expand their community engagement efforts into the metaverse, the more customizable it needs to be.
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Not everyone will have the skills to set up this type of metaverse – just like not everyone could learn to code to build a website, but platforms like WordPress and Shopify have popped up. These platforms offered the opportunity for a core base built by tech and subject matter experts while allowing for end-user customization according to branding and strategy. This is the advantage of MaaS.
Build with interoperability in mind
The virtual environment is a place to socialize, build relationships, and create communities where people can have real-time interactions with other users. Going further, users should not be locked into one metaverse or community, but should be able to interact with and transport their avatar between other metaverses. Imagine if you had to switch browsers every time you needed to visit a website, depending on where it was built or hosted. Chances are you wouldn’t. Interoperability ensures that any metaverse built will not become a virtual island, and people across multiple metaverses can exchange experiences and goods. As such, every element must be designed around interoperability, as every Web3-based solution must work in every metaverse – whether it’s a token, an avatar, an NFT, or a other digital assets.
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Building with interoperability in mind will connect people, open borders, and make the metaverse more accessible to everyone. Borderless solutions have taken off in other sectors, but the same concept must also apply in digital domains. For example, avatars within an esports metaverse should also be able to go to their favorite fashion brand’s metaverse to make purchases.
Allow users to build on top of the physical world
The metaverse should not replace the physical world, but should be an additional layer of engagement that enhances real-world experiences. A MaaS will also allow users to embed layers of engagement into their own physical world. For example, if a person has an NFT displayed in their physical home, a visitor can scan a QR code and end up in that person’s metaverse, where the visitor can continue browsing the host’s NFT gallery – this function can be activated via XR. Without optional MaaS, the Metaverse will continue to be a gamified world that exists digitally only as disconnected singular spaces. MaaS will bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds with immersive experiences and an ongoing engagement layer.
As metaverses continue to launch, it’s up to more than the blockchain experts behind them to shape what they will look like. MaaS will be a catalyst for creativity, as well as the necessary next step for the creator economy to thrive.
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When the Internet was launched in the 1980s, it would never have become what it is today without those who started to develop it. Early adopters will lay the groundwork for how the metaverse will grow and what it will become. Mass adoption of the metaverse can only happen when MaaS enables non-crypto-native users to start building their own metaverses, paving the way for the next generation of the digital ecosystem.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of TSWT.
Sandra Helou is responsible for Metaverse and NFT at Zilliqa. With deep knowledge and multidisciplinary experience spanning traditional and digital industries, Sandra leads Zilliqa’s NFT and Metaverse projects in the areas of growth, partnerships, strategy, marketing and conceptualization. His global experience in Australia, Asia, Europe and the Middle East enables him to deliver at strategy and execution levels. A futurist and action leader at heart, Sandra is committed to enriching and innovating the creator economy, the Web3 and the MetaFi/NFT space.