With all the hype around the Metaverse one question often left unanswered is how someone enters the Metaverse.
Would someone go online, wear VR glasses or simply close their eyes and imagine!
OK technology isn’t quite there yet for the last option, but with the technology that does exist today, what would someone need to use to enter and embrace the Metaverse?
Many devices can be used to connect to and enter the Metaverse. This includes a laptop, tablet, cell phone and VR glasses. Decentraland can be explored using an online browser. Meta will focus on VR accessibility. It is not essential to use VR to enter the Metaverse, but it does enhance the experience.
VR – which stands for Virtual Reality – allows someone to change their reality by becoming immersed in the experience.
To anyone else looking on at someone wearing a VR headset it almost looks comical, as legs and arms wave in all sorts of directions, but to the user their reality has changed.
In is incredible how realistic an experience can be even though we know it isn’t real.
A recent YouTube video highlights what happened when a group of soccer players put on VR headsets and had to walk off a virtual plank on the top of a virtual skyscraper.
Each player knew what they were about to do wasn’t real, they were really standing on carpet in a room, but their mind was so convinced that some of them wouldn’t even do it!
VR really is about enhancing the feeling, and emotions, of whatever it is you are doing and change your minds concept of reality, even if it is temporary.
In this article we will look at the ways of accessing the Metaverse, and whether VR is really needed and whether VR is worth it to experience the Metaverse.
Enter the Metaverse – Browser or VR
There are lots of definitions for what the Metaverse is.
Some theoretical, some philosophical, some very technical but here is an explanation in plain English.
The Metaverse is an online world of finite space used to display a digitally created world and ecosystem. Digital property and digital assets can be purchased, used, and traded within the Metaverse with authenticated and attributable ownership.
The finite supply of space is the key ingredient of the start of an ecosystem. With limited supply and increased demand comes price movements allowing trade.
Want a digital property close to areas you visit most in the Metaverse you can buy it. If someone owns it you can buy it from them, if there are many people wanting the same digital property then the value of the digital asset increases which may allow the current owner to make a profit.
This doesn’t apply to digital property, it can be business premises, land, merchandise, digital cars, accessories and maybe assets we haven’t even conceived yet.
The best chance the Metaverse has of success is to make the experience as immersive as possible. People will want to feel the Metaverse as much as they want to see what’s happening.
A browser will allow you to join in the fun and take a first journey in to the Metaverse space to see what the fun is all about but to truly experience the Metaverse as it has always been intended will be through either a VR headset or VR and AR glasses.
What VR can be used in the Metaverse
There are many VR devices on the market today.
These range from basic cardboard VR glasses costing around $20 to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vibe ranging between $600 to $800.
There are even larger more experience enhancing VR helmets which cost around $5,000!
With the large number of brands and models let’s look at options available for the major Metaverse brands.
Whilst the technology and Decentraland platform is very new they remain focused on building out the Decentraland Metaverse to be compatible for the largest population of users.
Those will laptops, tablets, and cell phones.
Decentraland has not yet released an official VR platform to experience their world – yet!
It is inevitable but restricting access to just VR headset owners would significantly increase barriers to entry to use the Metaverse, and each Metaverse knows it will need many users to survive.
That doesn’t stop those creative technical YouTubers on finding solutions to this problem. They have found ways of connecting laptop compatible VR headsets to link to the browser and allow Decentraland to become VR immersive.
As Decentraland has no official VR platform users can access the Metaverse using a laptop, tablet, or cell phone.
The Sandbox has VR capabilities as standard and can be accessed using Sandbox VR. Users are not limited to VR, they can access The Sandbox using a laptop, tablet, and cell phone too. VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and HTC Hive can connect directly to The Sandbox for an immersive experience.
This does give The Sandbox a distinct advantage.
The more immersive the experience the better the experience. The better experience the more the Metaverse will be discussed and shared and could be a determining factor in the race to become the dominant player.
We shall see.
Meta is the new company name for what was originally Facebook. The company changed its name as a very clear sign they are completely focused on being the brand that delivers on the Metaverse.
Mark Zuckerberg showed an incredible creative mindset when he launched The Facebook, later changed to just Facebook after launch, and he has a vision that the world will turn to the Metaverse just as users did to Facebook.
Meta doesn’t have a fully rolled out Metaverse to jump in to and access but when it does it is likely to be VR headset focused.
The challenge Meta has is currently cryptocurrencies, NFTs and Web3 are intentionally turning towards a decentralized format.
This simply means instead of big brands having the control and monopoly over your content and data, no one does and the companies in the Web3 space are run by all the people who have invested into the business using a voting system built in to blockchain smart contracts.
Of course, investors, NFT and token holders for example, won’t run the business. This will still be done by the founders, but founders must allow for decisions of the business to be made by the users using a blockchain vote.
This is known as a DAO or Decentralized Autonomous Organization. It means owned and controlled by the people, not corporations.
Whatever the community votes and decides on must be put in to practice.
Decentraland’s homepage states quite clearly that ‘Create, explore, and trade in the first-ever virtual world owned by its users’.
That’s the difference. Decentraland isn’t owned by an individual or corporate giant controlling how the site works, functions and what it does with mountains of user data. The users of Decentraland voice and make the decisions.
Meta has a founder, shareholders, and control, and will struggle to adopt the path Web3 is trying to take.
Decentralized formats and industries have their place and have many benefits, but as the space is expanding more and more negatives around decentralized management of huge amounts of money and large businesses.
Metaverse without VR Review
I recently logged in to Decentraland using a Chrome browser.
My avatar jumped on to the screen like the start of a PS4 game, and I started to navigate my digital self around using the keyboard and mouse.
The avatars look a little cartoonish still and it feels more of a game than a different reality, but we are very early in the Metaverse industry and an industry I am sure will be evolving over the next 20 years.
The Metaverse is real time, always on, and like the biggest and best cities of the world it never sleeps.
The movie Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis, can be people’s expectations of what the Metaverse is, when really it feels like being exported into a game of Mario!
We are problem 30-70 years away from anything like that type of deep immersion where people no longer live their own lives but live the lives of who they want to be within the Metaverse.
Perhaps by then our ideologies will change.
Experiencing the Metaverse without VR of some description is best described as visiting the cinema to watch a 3D film whilst not wearing 3D glasses.
Everyone around you will be experiencing a different range of emotions as aspects of the 3D film come to life around them, whilst the standard 2D vision will feel a little flat.
This analogy really does describe the difference of experiencing the Metaverse with and without VR.
I wandered around empty streets and boulevards. I took a tram ride, looked at lots of digital ads displaying to no one (which will really take over the Metaverse if the users are not careful!) and went to a digital art exhibition, which I found to be interactive and more enjoyable than I expected.
I found a digital cinema where I could watch a film for 15 MANA, buy 3D glasses for 2 MANA or buy a digital t-shirt to wear for 1 MANA.
MANA is the digital currency of Decentraland which can be bought using a cryptocurrency platform such as Binance or Coinbase, and by connecting your digital wallet holding MANA you can buy all sorts of things within Decentraland or using its marketplace.
To really make the most of the Metaverse, VR is almost a necessity.
Is VR for the Metaverse worth it?
To embrace the Metaverse to its full extent VR is worth it.
Investing in the latest VR technology is a little premature right now as the industry is so incredibly early.
Also, at this point nobody quite knows which of the Metaverses will take off and become the main central Metaverse that most people use.
It could be Decentraland, or The Sandbox, or Meta which was formerly known as Facebook, or it could simply be a new company who will launch a Metaverse that becomes the top Metaverse brand.
VR technology could vary depending on which Metaverse breaks through and becomes the most dominant, but whichever Metaverse does succeed there will surely be VR opportunities.