People who are unfamiliar with the metaverse concept may believe that the metaverse is just a virtual environment created and accessed through VR headsets since there are many overlapping similarities when comparing it to virtual reality. However, when taking a closer look, the metaverse has vivid key differences from virtual reality; certainly classifying them as two distinct subjects.
The metaverse is an undefined and persistent digital world that provides access to user-created 3D virtual spaces, solutions, and surroundings. The definition of the metaverse, much like the early days of the internet, is essentially amorphous, but its basic properties and features are worth touching upon. Virtual reality, on the other hand, is the technology for constructing these three-dimensional virtual environments or worlds with a specified functionality.
The Metaverse is certainly more than just virtual reality. It is possible that life in the metaverse will involve virtual reality headsets but it’s not limited to only this technology. It may also include augmented reality devices, smartphones, computers and even technology that does not yet exist.
To fully comprehend the many differences between the two, we have separated the technological comparisons between different topics below.
This is a significant distinction between the two subjects. When you access Virtual Reality, you are playing on a company’s system and enjoying their company-owned materials. You technically have zero ownership of property other than the equipment, but in the metaverse, you own everything you’ve bought or have due to the decentralized nature. This is the primary difference; everything is your digital asset in the metaverse, therefore you have full ownership.
People may argue that ownership exists when it comes to VR technologies as well, but looking at it from a different perspective, sure, you own the item once you buy it, but that is the extent of it. You have no control over what occurs next. A user will simply put on their VR gadget and will receive whatever is available through that device. There is nothing more or less.
Virtual Space Technology
The Metaverse and Virtual Reality are both incredible advancements, but Virtual Reality has its technological limitations because it is solely about experiencing a virtual space and can only go so far. You can not experience VR without wearing a headset or hardware. Whereas the Metaverse, on the other hand, has no limits because it combines various forms of technology such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and more, integrated into a full-on virtual world where your own digital avatar can roam and build upon. A VR headset could be beneficial but is not obligatory in this case.
The Virtual World Experience
Both virtual reality and the metaverse allow you to have a virtual experience with other people, although the scope of this varies greatly depending on the platform and equipment you use.
Virtual reality is normally confined to a fixed number of digital avatars, such as the number of players a gaming platform may allow, however, the metaverse is an open virtual environment where everyone may travel, enjoy, and communicate with others in a shared space throughout the entire internet; no boundaries associated.
The Metaverse is always on the go and blends real with virtual, bridging the gap between virtual-experiences and real-experiences with things like augmented reality, and other tech, giving you a true real life feel in a virtual-style that is always around and has real life outcomes in various formats. Virtual reality on the other hand is great for the experience but once you turn off the device, the experience stops.
Classic VR experiences will most likely be restricted in what they can provide in the future, but the metaverse is only getting started.
101 Blockchains laid out a great visual with key distinctions between VR and the metaverse below.
The Metaverse will not be limited to VR Technology
In the future, to utilize Metaverse's services and virtual spaces, you will not need to wear a virtual reality headset as it will be designed to be accessible from any location. However, experts believe that a significant amount of its services will be available to VR headset users. It indicates that the distinction between utilizing virtual reality and surfing the internet will grow blurred. As a result, we may anticipate that VR headsets will be beneficial for accomplishing tasks that we currently undertake on smartphones or computers/laptops but will not be the end all be all in the metaverse. If the persistent virtual world becomes as popular as Mark Zuckerberg anticipates, virtual reality may just become a niche product.
A good analogy that could be applied to this situation for a better understanding is thinking about cars. There are many different brands such as BMW, Toyota, Honda, Mustang, and others. Each brand is a type of vehicle that is included under the umbrella and broad category of “cars” but one brand does not comprise the entire category. This is in relation to Virtual reality. VR is under the umbrella of the metaverse alongside AR and others but does not consume the entirety of the industry or group.
At the end of the day, virtual reality is a part of the bigger idea but it’s not the whole.
The Metaverse will Become Bigger than VR
The scale of the metaverse in the future is essentially a new and improved version of the current internet. It is projected to transform the way people work, use social media, and even surf the web, implying that, while many people may dismiss virtual reality, the same is unlikely to happen with the metaverse.
People may eventually have a second life within it and be so infatuated with the experience that they may prefer the virtual world over the real one.
Essentially, the metaverse is superior to a standalone virtual reality experience. The VR equipment itself isn't very impressive on its own, but alongside the metaverse, they can create the ultimate user experience. The future of the metaverse is yet to be defined but it will bring a second extension to our daily lives in more ways than one.
Why Crypto/Web3 is Essential to the Metaverse
Simply put, Web 3.0 is the decentralized internet, built upon distributed technologies such as the blockchain and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) rather than being centralized on servers controlled by corporations or people. It is the evolution of how users will control, monetize and own their work, digital assets, as well as online identities/personal avatars.
With that being said, Web 3.0 and the metaverse have both been referred to as the internet’s third major iteration. Their features and elements overlap in many instances including the technology that is used to build them. Blockchain-based cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, in general, all have digital objects stored within the blockchain whether it be Bitcoin, Ethereum, NFTs or others. These unique digital components all have a large association with how the metaverse and virtual worlds will work together as a whole in the future.
How Do They Come Together?
From a technology standpoint, Web 3.0 offers the proper foundation suitable for these digital worlds to be built on in a decentralized manner. Senior Research Analyst at Messari, Mason Nystrom, stated that he believes "Web3 will be the key backend infrastructure for the Metaverse."
Physical property rights have been an authorizing component in the development of communities, while digital property rights encoded on blockchain networks are the foundational component in the development of the virtual universe.
For example, Decentraland’s entire foundation is built on the Ethereum blockchain meaning that users can use their virtual currency to purchase and own plots of land without being under a specific corporation that owns the server where it is stored. You are verified as the owner and can set rules on what you want to do and how you want to use it.
Both Web 3.0 and the metaverse have the potential to benefit each other. As we advance towards a decentralized Web 3.0, we must evaluate what type of internet we want to emphasize in the Metaverse. Since the Metaverse is all about the merging of physical and virtual worlds, it is critical to have an interoperable and open source public chain to ensure that multiple virtual worlds and blockchain networks may interlink, moving assets from one to another and overlapping in a smooth manner.
We are certain that the Web 3.0 Metaverse framework will develop into a new, open, and decentralized global reality, shaping the future for all.
By Branyce Wong