What is the Metaverse?
The metaverse has become a hot topic in recent years. Though its origin is rooted in a 90s science fiction novel, the metaverse gained popularity once it was brought to the forefront of the lexicon in Ready Player One.
It is described in the oxford dictionary as a “virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.” But, in reality, it is much more than that. Trendmicro describes the metaverse as “an immersive and interactive operating environment that users can access through various connected means.” In essence, it uses an amalgamation of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 technologies to provide an interactive element to the existing internet experience.
What it is maybe far less important than what it is meant to be or even what it signifies. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the metaverse began to grow out of the massively multiplayer online games of the era. You had titles such as EverQuest, Asheron's Call, Star Wars Galaxies, City of Heroes, and peeking with World of Warcraft. Each is viewed as simply a video game by the outside world. Yet, to the players, they were worlds people lived in. Many of those people found themselves identifying with the characters that they customize and dedicating days, months, or even years of their life to. More often than not, cultivating friendships and relationships and developing skills such as leadership and communication.
That was the beginning of what we see today as the metaverse. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for some of those MMOs to have evolved into more metaversal enterprises. World of Warcraft stands out the most as it allows people to buy trading cards in real life and receive virtual items in-game. It has also allowed them to use real-world money to purchase items such as horses to expand their in-game universe. However, while each MMORPG represents a proprietary single virtual world, the true metaverse will allow users to seamlessly move between virtual spaces with their virtual assets.
What will become the metaverse is a virtual world that can be a proxy for the real world. Not necessarily visually, as some of the metaverses appearing on the list below do not replicate reality, nor do they try. Instead, they present an escape or a place where you can have an experience you cannot have in the real world. The advent of web3 brings the possibility of currencies that transcend individual games and allow you to earn an income that can be used to satiate your real-world desires. Web3 also permits decentralization of the metaverse enabling the users to have a say in what happens on the platform. Whereas in the web2 world, many MMOs were taken offline because they were no longer profitable. Web3 also allows the metaverse to be more than just a game of questing and crafting. Instead, entitling you to create items and sell them on a marketplace while also allowing you to meet others in a space; where you can do things ranging from watching movies to dance parties.
One of the offers of the metaverse is that you can buy a car in the real world and get the vehicle in metaverse A. Then also, be able to drive the vehicle in metaverses B, C, and D. Then potentially sell it in metaverse E, so you can go back to real life and do it again. The number of users will currently vary from metaverse to metaverse.
According to DCL Metrics, for example, there are around 3000 DAU or Daily active users in Decenterland. To put that in context, an MMO from the 90s like Asheron's call featured 2000 people per server or 12000 DAU, whereas a behemoth like the world of warcraft hosted 12k users per server or 120 million DAU.
It is possible today to live almost exclusively in the metaverse, pay your bills and interact with people avoiding many of the world's issues. Recent technology has pushed people towards a world where they choose not to go outside and not to interact with others on a person-to-person basis. Instead, they spend their days at home watching Netflix, meetings on zoom, or standing in a virtual world. The following list features some of the top metaverses and metaversal technologies. We won’t touch much on the play2earn or speculative aspects. However, it is recommended to do your own research into those.
Yuga Labs has become the poster child for NFTs with their mega-hit Bored Ape Yacht Club. Taking front and center in that world, they seem to be pursuing the metaverse many are clamoring for. What that points to is a metaverse where you will be able to connect with your wallet and utilize the collectibles you already own. According to the whitepaper,
“Otherside is a world-building platform that provides an exciting environment to play, create, compete, connect, and explore together. Initially, users will experience Otherside through a narrative gameplay experience (aka The Voyager’s Journey) co-developed by Yuga Labs and Improbable and based on the technology from M².”
Many of the BAYC owners that were lucky enough to experience Otherside's initial testing have been excited about its future. However, Yuga Labs is known for playing it close to the vest. There is very little information on what they will do with Otherside.
In a 2022 interview with TechCrunch, Yuga CEO Nicole Muniz said, “There will be lots of metaverses” and that an interesting question would be, “Do you own yourself?”. If Yuga asks questions like that, then Otherside has plenty of potential. It may end up being one of the earliest versions of Ready Player One’s Oasis.
Launch date: April 30, 2022
What Is the reason for this metaverse: Play, Create, Compete, and Explore.
Is there a game to play: Yes
What kind of Avatars are available: Various based on compatible NFTS you own.
Crypto compatibility: ETH and APE.
Popularity: 40,000 initial users
More Info: https://otherside.xyz/
The omniverse is a suite of tools developed by NVIDIA technologies to help facilitate the development of virtual worlds by developers and artists. They view the metaverse as the 3D Internet and a place where you will connect to various worlds seamlessly regardless of your access point.
The metaverse—the 3D internet—is delivering enormous opportunities for everyone. From artists building content across multiple 3D tools, developers building AIs trained in virtual worlds, or enterprises building digital twin simulations of their industrial processes, metaverse applications are here and everywhere. - Nvidia
While Omniverse may not be a centralized metaverse platform like many current models, it offers an opportunity to create an interconnected multiverse. In the metaverse of the future, buying a car in one game will let you drive it in another. In the pursuit of that functionality, we need tools like Omniverse. It then falls to the developers to recognize assets across games. That is where the lack of centralization and NFT compatibility will shine.
Distributed as a free tool, the possibilities of what we will see from Omniverse are endless. Imagine buying the latest Legend of Zelda, and the same master sword you earned there appears as a weapon to use in Destiny. However, we are, as they say, early. It may be years before the ramifications of interoperable digital assets and collectibles are realized the way many want. Yet tools like Nvidia’s Omniverse will make that world a reality.
Launch date: September 20, 2022
What Is the reason for this metaverse: It is an SDK tool to allow others to create seamless worlds that are interoperable.
Is there a game to play: None as of yet.
What kind of Avatars are available: Various
Crypto compatibility: N/A
Pros: A futurist initiative by the world's largest graphics card manufacturer
Cons: It is just the SDK and will require creative companies and individuals to develop worlds utilizing the technology to be successful
More info: https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/omniverse/
3. Second Life
Second Life is a platform that allows people to create an avatar of themselves and then interact with other users and user-created content within a multi-player online virtual world.
"There is no manufactured conflict, no set objective"- Linden Lab
Second Life users, known as 'residents,' can explore the world (known as the grid). meet other residents, socialize, and participate in individual and group activities. They can also build, create, shop, and trade virtual property and services.
Second Life has been around for a long time. It could have been the front-runner to a metaverse explosion. However, the developers are not keen to connect Second Life to the metaverse concept. Even tho people have made a real living as clothing designers, dancers, and land barons in Second Life for over a decade
Launch date: June 23, 2003
What is the reason for this metaverse: To emulate life.
Is there a game to play: Several.
What kind of Avatars are available: Fully customizable.
Crypto compatibility: No. The currency (Lindens) is a self-contained one. Altho, they do have an exchange rate with fiat currencies.
Popularity: 800,000 and 900,000 DAU
Pros: Longevity of the project along with nearly unlimited options
Con's: Memory intensive client, centralized servers, limited naming conventions
More info: https://secondlife.com/
Habbo Hotel has been around for nearly 20 years. Originally intended to be a virtual chat room for teens and young adults. One of the earliest metaverses it's purposes was to expand the chat rooms and bulletin board systems of the era into a virtual space.In more recent times, it has undergone a rebranding and is now known as Habbo. In addition to the rebranding, an NFT project was dropped late in 2021. Owners of those NFTs are able to use them as avatars in the game.
There are updates planned for Habbo, but as of now, it is almost the same as the original release. Users own a hotel room they can decorate with items they buy or earn through mini-games. They can visit restaurants and shops to interact with other players. The Habbo interface and its use of gems will remind you of popular mobile games.
The developers have done a great job of keeping an active community for over two decades. They appear to be future-oriented, even dropping a Habbo roadmap in 2022. The desire to connect with the NFT space and collab with projects like Cool Cats gives Habbo a brighter future than I thank many realize.
Launch date: Summer 2000
What is the reason for this metaverse: Chat
Is there a game to play: Yes
What kind of Avatars are available: 2d customizable
Crypto compatibility: Possibly Eth soon
Popularity: 30,000 DAU
Pro's: Popular and relevant for the NFT space
Con's: Current interface and Gem-based system
More info: https://nft.habbo.com/
An Ethereum-based virtual world Crypto Voxels is a fully functional metaverse. Well, in Crypto voxel's virtual world, there is real infrastructure, such as roads, lands, and buildings. You are even able to buy land with Ethereum and construct whatever you feel like on your plot of land. There are NFTs you can customize your avatars with. The system supports a VR or browser-based experience. There was a cryptocurrency associated with it, $Voxel. It has all the things you want from a metaverse.
One of the key uses for Voxels is as an event space and Gallery. Yet that highlights the biggest drawback to their system. The lack of information centralization. There is no way to find out what's going on where or what worlds have what events. Additionally, there are no complex games or worlds to speak of. It is a popular space that lacks some of the polish found in other metaverses. That being said, It shows the potential of a decentralized future.
Launch date: April 10, 2018
What is the reason for this metaverse: NFT Gallery and Event space.
Is there a game to play?: Not really.
What kind of Avatars are available: Customizable NFT-based.
Crypto compatibility: Ethereum.
Popularity: less than 10k registered users. No DAU number is available.
Con's: Lack of substance and users.
More info: https://www.voxels.com/
6. Worldwide Webb
The talented Alex White-Gomez described this one best in his article Welcome to World Wide Webb. Where he said, “Worldwide Webb is actually an MMORPG metaverse game that can be played using pixelated NFTs from your personal collection. As a player, you have the ability to build and create your own community within the world. This includes building your own structures.”
It would appear that Webb does something few of the metaverses do. It connects fans of pixel art and lets them utilize their 2d digital collectibles. Combine that and their willingness to collab with popular projects like the BYOpills you get a unique interconnected experience.
Launch date: December 25, 2021
What is the reason for this metaverse: Reimagine the MMORPG experience
Is there a game to play: Minigames
What kind of Avatars are available: 2d NFT enabled
Crypto compatibility: None
Pro's: Very connected to the pulse of the NFT space
Con's: Hard to be a 2d game in a 3D, VR, and AR universe
More info: https://webb.game/
7. Avakin Life
A life simulation game, Avakin is the spiritual successor to PlayStation Home. In the Avakin metaverse, there is no goal or reason beyond existence and community. In many ways, it is the metaverse people are searching for. The creators pitch it as a world “where you can be anything and anyone – no judgments, no barriers, no limits.” They set out to do that by letting you create an avatar that represents you. There is a multitude of shopping options ranging from Nike to Timbaland. Once you outfit yourself, there are a multitude of mini-games like bowling you can play with friends. All before you head back to one of your houses to hang out and talk about nothing until the sun comes up.
Not a native NFT project, the developers have shown a desire to reach into that world with recent partnerships like the one with epikprime for the Solar sounds festival. While its centralized nature may not feel like the metaverse of the future, Avakin Life’s popularity is hard to deny. Over 200 million users have downloaded the app and logged into that world. Avakin Life was never intended to be as popular as it is. In an article published to gamesindustry.biz, Avakin developer Ed Morley detailed some complications of the rapid and consistent growth.
Launch date: December 20, 2013
What is the reason for this metaverse: Socializing.
Is there a game to play: There are mini-games.
What kind of Avatars are available: Customizable with name brands.
Crypto compatibility: None.
Popularity: 1.4 million DAU
Pros: Massively popular with years of run time and access to a multitude of name brands.
Cons: Centralized, so you could lose your assets if they shut down the servers.
More info: https://avakin.com/
Dreams was developed by Media Molecule of Little Big Planet fame. It may not be what you would view as a metaverse at first. Yet it fits the definition more than many of those that generally make a list like this, such as Fortnite. The main similarity across all metaverses is that you can visit a multitude of worlds alone or with friends. In Dreams, you can go to one world and be Sonic the Hedgehog, then go to another and join a dance party with Master Chief. While the servers are centralized, the worlds and stories are all user-created.
In Dreams, you have a powerful game development tool. Its VR compatibility allows users to not only play in VR worlds but create them as well. This allows your experience to be limited only by the imagination. Dreams is a prime example of what the metaverse of the future will offer in terms of tools to allow users to be more than just consumers.
Launch date: February 14, 2020
What is the reason for this metaverse: To let people create.
Is there a game to play: There are plenty of games.
What kind of Avatars are available: It changes from world to world.
Crypto compatibility: None
Popularity: 1000 DAU
Pros: Dedicated fanbase creating worlds
Con's: Exclusive to PlayStations platform
More Info: https://indreams.me/
9. Core Games
Core Games lets you create worlds or play games with up to 32 players. It features an endless arcade of free games, experiences, and events. Most of which will be user-designed and built. You start by developing your unique digital persona with the built-in character creator. Then you can explore and socialize alongside your friends throughout the Core Metaverse. In an experience similar in design to Roblox, users can use Lua to code their assets. However, the power of the Unreal engine is Core's most significant advantage.
While you can’t import assets into Core, there is Ethereum bases NFT compatibility. One thing you can do now is to feature an NFT you own on your avatar's shirt. There are plans to expand those capabilities. The fact I can Rock a Veefriend on my shirt is pretty cool. They are looking to cement with more projects to allow for the possibility of those NFTs appearing as avatars for holders. Manticore games seems to be fully ready to embrace Web3 as they develop the Core metaverse.
Launch date: April 15, 2021
What is the reason for this metaverse: To play and socialize.
Is there a game to play: Yes.
What kind of Avatars are available: Full creation with NFT Compatability.
Crypto compatibility: Ethereum-based NFTs only.
Popularity: 30,000 DAU.
Pro's: Web3 friendly.
Con's: Still in the early phases of development.
More info: https://coregames.com/
Roblox is a free-to-play voxel-based game, with in-game purchases available through a virtual currency called Robux. That's the simplest way to explain one of the biggest games of the last decade. Roblox is a metaverse that allows users to create worlds and experiences using LAU-based coding systems. It allows dozens of players to come together in various worlds. Where they can utilize assets, they purchased from the marketplace or earned in other worlds.
Roblox is one of the most successful metaverse companies to date, going so far as to be listed on the New York stock exchange. It has even transcended the digital space with physical toys available at most major retail outlets. When you pick up one of those toys, there is usually a code that gives you an item in the virtual world. It doesn’t stop there. The Roblox space has caught the attention of the biggest Web2 companies. Walmart Opened its own space in Roblox.
It is partnerships like that which legitimize the metaverse experience found in Roblox. Other notable experiences and events included Transformers and Ready Player One. While the voxel-based avatars may give pause, the experiences available are second to none in the space. Ranging from action pack Anime centric worlds to nightmare-fueled Horror games.
Launch date: September 1, 2006
What is the reason for this metaverse: To have fun
Is there a game to play: Millions
What kind of Avatars are available: Customizable Voxel Avatars
Crypto compatibility: Self-contained unit called Robux
Popularity: 20 million DAU
Pro's: Too many to list
Con's: Voxel-based games aren't everyone's forte
More info: https://www.roblox.com/home
It is a platform that allows users to monetize digital content ranging from their own creations to virtual real estate. Decentraland, you can own everything from a Speakeasy to a mansion to an amusement park. Each one of those assets is an NFT. This allows you to buy, sell, and trade across various marketplaces. Much of Decentraland is owned and managed by the Decentraland DAO. It is a genuinely Decentralized platform. The community can propose and vote on policy, land auctions, and whitelisting of NFT collections. Everything that happens in Decentraland is first put to a vote.
Its decentralization has shown to be both its strength and weakness. People have been able to bring votes that improve the quality of life on the service. Such as the Vogu Collective enhancing the polygons allowable for headwear. The voting has failed to block things like using Hitler as a name on the service.
Decentraland is a working metaverse platform where major companies or individuals can own land and operate businesses and concert venues. There have been quite a few concerts put on in Decentraland. Deadmau5 dropped NFTs to several attendees of his concert. They have even been live shows done on view screens within Decentraland. DCL, as it is, presents a world of possibilities. The greatest is the ability to carve out your own piece of the pie and have a say in its future.
Launch date: February 20, 2020
What is the reason for this metaverse: Bring people together.
Is there a game to play: Yes.
What kind of Avatars are available: Completely customizable avatars.
Crypto compatibility: Ethereum and Mana are required for most DCL purchases. However, there are bridges, such as Opensea, that allow for credit card usage.
MANA is the in-game official cryptocurrency of the platform. The cryptocurrency purchases properties, wearables, and exclusive names within the Decentraland.
There are a total of 2.1 billion MANA tokens.
Popularity: 2,000 DAU
Pros: There have been a lot of upgrades to the system, and it is primed and ready for creative endeavors.
Con's: The cost of land has become prohibitive, and the lack of users.
More info: https://decentraland.org/
12. Horizon Worlds
Horizon Worlds is the proposed Facebook of the metaverse. This program is free to play and often paired with Meta’s headsets. Intended to be a meeting place and a play area, in its current incarnation Horizon Worlds is little more than a glorified tech demo. One where Meta tests out the things that it wants to implement the closer we get to an adoption point where more users than not are connected to the VR world. Not too different than many of the others featured on this list, Horizon Worlds allows you to communicate with individuals and explore ideas or concepts with one another.
Launch date: December 9, 2021.
What is the reason for this metaverse: To be the social platform of the future.
Is there a game to play: on some worlds.
What kind of Avatars are available: Stylized but customizable
Crypto compatibility: None
Popularity: 10,000 DAU
Pros: Backed by Meta and connected to your Facebook
Cons: Not a lot to do.
More info: https://www.oculus.com/horizon-worlds/
13. VR Chat
In VRChat, you can play and create with people worldwide. Together you get to build worlds using a Unity-based SDK. Along with that, you each appear with custom full-body avatars.
If you aren’t a creative individual, you can use a service like Ready Player Me to get the avatar you want to represent you in VRchat. While this is one of the most basic metaverses, it showcases the possibilities.
Launch date: January 16, 2014
What is the reason for this metaverse: socialization.
Is there a game to play: It Varies from world to world.
What kind of Avatars are available: Full body avatars with lip sync, eye tracking/blinking, and complete range of motion.
Crypto compatibility: none
Popularity: 20,000 DAU
Pros: The avatars are as close as you get to the Oasis.
Cons: full body avatars can have some frightening effects.
More info: https://hello.vrchat.com/
The Sandbox is a voxel-based metaverse. While the graphics are similar to Minecraft or Trove, that is where the similarities end. In the Sandbox, you have many of the metaverse features and tools at your disposal. You can buy various parcels of land. You can utilize their tool, Voxeit, to create assets to use or sell on the open market. You can use their game maker in conjunction with a plot of land to develop virtual experiences.
A subsidiary of Animoca Brands, the sandbox has a vast array of partnerships and collaborations. Major IPs and brands, including Adidas, Snoop Dogg, The Walking Dead, Deadmau5, Steve Aoki, Gucci, Care Bears, The Smurfs, Avenged Sevenfold, and many more. Several brands have been featured in significant world-spanning events.
While a few of the metaverses use crypto of some kind, The Sandbox has Its own token, $SAND. It is the utility token used throughout The ecosystem as the basis for transactions and interactions. It is a token built on the Ethereum blockchain. There is a finite supply of 3,000,000,000 SAND. Combining SAND with the marketplace, some of the different play 2 earn experiences, and you have one of the most complete metaverses.
Launch date: November 29, 2021
What is the reason for this metaverse: A place for people to enjoy crafted experiences.
Is there a game to play: Yes
What kind of Avatars are available: Custom
Crypto compatibility: Ethereum and Sand
Popularity: 200,000 DAU
Pros: NFT-centric and Decentralized.
Cons: Sand and Ethereum are a requirement in the ecosystem.
More info: www.sandbox.game
The artist, formally known as Facebook, became Meta upon revealing its machinations as a central component in the metaverse. In a gamble to be a first mover, meta has leveraged its position as a significant social network into a hardware manufacturer for the VR/ AR future. It focuses on getting as many Oculus units into homes as possible and allowing the software to do so. The talking has led to a steep decline in its stock position.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has talked many times about the future of the metaverse being more of a multiverse than a universe owned by a single company. More of a futurist than most of us understand, it appears that Zuckerberg and Meta are willing to risk it all for a digital future.
Launch date: October 28, 2021.
What is the reason for this metaverse: A bid to connect the other metaverses.
Is there a game to play: Several.
What kind of Avatars are available: depends on the game.
Crypto compatibility: no
Popularity: 2.4 million DAU
Pros: The hardware is inexpensive
Cons: The software begins to add up
More info: https://www.meta.com/
16. Rec Room
Rec Room is a fantastic place to hang out with friends from around the world. You can chat or explore millions of player-created rooms. If you are creative, you can take some time and build a world to explore with others. It is the best place to develop and play games together. A social app at its core Rec Room is free and cross-plays on everything from mobile devices to VR headsets.
The Maker Pen is the tool used by Rec Room creators to build everything. It is like a virtual palette that allows you to mold and paint shapes to fit your wildest concepts. That can be as simple as a puppy or as complex as a spaceship. The ability to shape worlds in a VR landscape is unreal and as science fiction, as it gets.
Launch date: June 2016.
What is the reason for this metaverse: Social interaction.
Is there a game to play: Yes, multiple
What kind of Avatars are available: Custom
Crypto compatibility: None
Popularity: 5,000 DAU
Pros: A true VR interface
Cons: The avatars are not as alluring as others.
More info: https://recroom.com/
So which one is THE metaverse?
The imagination is your limit when it comes to the Metaverse. Understanding that the metaverse envisioned by ready player one it's not as far into the future as it would seem yet nowhere near as close as we would want it. I did not include some games like Fortnite, Star Atlas, Illuvium, or Axie Infinity on this list as they fail to meet the requirement to be a metaverse. Each of those is centered around an experience the company controls and limits.
The real metaverse will have few, if any, quantifiable limits. The metaverse we seek will be a combination of everything you just saw. There may never be a single metaverse. Instead, they all likely give way to some form of interoperability.
In an ideal world, The Metaverse will let you battle voxel dragons with a sword you earned buying sandwiches from Subway. It will allow you to own a 2d speakeasy where you sell drinks crafted by that dragon's blood. It will let you buy real homes with cryptocurrency earned from that speakeasy. All while appearing to the world as a unique Ape, Robot, or Anime character you chose to represent yourself. The metaverse is going to be a wild place, and we look forward to meeting you there.